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Monday, August 25, 2014

Saving and using fat from cooking meat

Most of us, here, save at least some of our cooking fat, like bacon fat. And some of us save other meat fat. This seems to be an age-old frugal practice. I thought we could put our thoughts together and list all the ways we have used our saved fat, as well as how to store it.

  • clarified bacon fat in place of lard or Crisco in pastry  To clarify fat, add fat to a small saucepan of water. Heat to boiling and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool, chill, and pour cloudy water off of the solidified fat. Add more water to the saucepan and repeat the simmer/chilling process 2 or 3 additional times. The final clarified fat has lost its meaty flavor and can be used for baking biscuits or making pie pastry.
  • making gravy immediately after frying ground beef or sausage  This gravy isn't part of the meal for which the meat was prepared but to be frozen and used later to top biscuits or Yorkshire pudding, with or without tofu chunks added (makes a protein/carb/fat portion of supper).
  • making gravy, as above, but adding milk to use in place of cream-of-whatever soup for casseroles  Sausage gravy, made with some milk, is great in a green bean casserole instead of the usual cream of mushroom soup.
  • making a large batch of chicken, turkey or ham gravy to divide into containers for the freezer for serving over cooked meat, potatoes, noodles or rice at another meal.
  • I store some fat, as is, in containers in the freezer, labeled as to which kind of fat  When cooking, I use a blend of this meat fat and oil to sauté items which don't contain their own fat, like bean burger patties, or, for the onions at the beginning of making a pot of soup. 

Just a note, ground beef and breakfast sausage fat have little flavor of their own, so I add a substantial amount of dried herbs to either when making gravy. I like sage and thyme added to sausage gravy and thyme, oregano, black pepper and soy sauce added to ground beef gravy.

So, what do you do with leftover meat fat?



  1. I don't do much with it. Except for bacon grease, the rest goes into the freezer to be thrown away. I will fry with leftover bacon grease, but I use it within a few days. I think I am still in the mind set that saturated fat is bad for you. I know the thinking about the nutritional values of different kinds of fats are changing every day, but my mind is changing slower than the research.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I agree, it is confusing, the "what's good, what's bad" keeps changing. I remember when my parents switched to margarine, because "butter was bad". Now the thinking is trans fats in margarine are worse than saturated fat in butter. I figure that our family eats relatively little fat in general, and hubby and I have low cholesterol, that using the meat fat is fine for us. Everyone has to weigh their own situation and variables to come to a good conclusion for themselves.

  2. We save the bacon grease and I use it for fried squash or fried potatoes, generally. Also for milk gravy to serve over biscuits. I make gravy for the meal from turkey, chicken, or beef fat and juices. Sausage fat I don't do anything with unless immediately making breakfast gravy afterward. The kind of sausage we use doesn't have a whole lot, anyway.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Oh, I bet fried potatoes and squash are yummy with the bacon fat!!

  3. I don't do much at all right now, but thank you for the inspiration and great suggestions to try.
    Jo Ann

    1. Hi Jo Ann,
      Over the years, I've gone back and forth, sometimes using the meat fat, other times discarding it. Right now, it makes $$ sense to use it, so I am.

  4. I store pork sausage and bacon fat together in a jar. I use this primarily for egg frying, or when I want bacon flavor but don't have any bacon. With current prices being $7/lb, bacon is a treat here. I use chicken/turkey fat for frying off a mire poix when making soup, for gravies. I do the same with beef fat. Cooking oil is also about twice as costly as it's been just a few years ago. Using reserved fats saves $.

    1. Hi Carol,
      you point out exactly why I'm using the meat fat now -- saves money and adds flavor. I hadn't thought to simply combine the sausage and bacon fat. Good idea! Ham fat would also be good in same jar.

  5. We don't have bacon very often now, but when we do, we save the drippings in a container. My favourite way use it is for a very yummy salad dressing. The recipe calls for cooked slices of bacon, but it is just as good using a couple of spoonfuls of the bacon drippings in a frying pan, add about three tablespoons of brown sugar and three tablespoons of vinegar. When dissolved in the frying pan, pour over a mixture of leaf lettuce, red pepper strips and sliced fresh mushrooms. serve immediately.

    1. Yum! That salad dressing sounds delicious! I'll be trying that soon, with fall salad greens. Thanks!

  6. We rarely have bacon, but I do save the strained fat ( not boiled clean) for fall cooking. A teaspoon or so adds a decent amount of smoky flavor to turnip and collard greens. I am saving some to infuse bourbon with a bacon flavor. Have no idea how it will turn out but it is supposed to be a pretty spectacular fall sipping bourbon. I guess I will see.
    I also save chicken fat, but have no idea what to do with it.

    1. Hi Anne,
      I have never heard of adding bacon flavor to bourbon before. How interesting! I hope you enjoy it.
      I did cooked greens (kale) last night using ham fat. It was delicious!

      We don't have bacon all that often either (sad for me, one of my favorite foods). So when we do, I try to make the most of the fat for flavor.

  7. I save bacon and sausage fat and fry most things with it,chicken fat I put in moulds freeze them and use them in casseroles and soups


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