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Monday, January 6, 2020

Giving Those Good Intentions a Nudge: Making Leftover Meat Fat User Friendly for Cooking

You all know that I save the fat from cooking meat to use in future cooking. Scooping it all into a container for the freezer is the simple way to save the fat. However,  I find that when the fat is in a solid blob in a single container, I just don't use it as much as I would have liked. Then, after a year or so, I have a freezer full of containers of fat that are only partially-used, and I've relied on other cooking fats in daily meal prep. My plan for saving meat fat is to offset some of my use of other cooking fats, both to use what I've been provided (I hate to think an animal isn't fully used seeing as how they have paid with their life for my consumption) and using the fat from meat will save some money on groceries.

My solution is to make it more appealing to reach into the freezer for fat when I'm starting a pot of soup or sautéing veggies. How I did that is by freezing the fat in tablespoon-size dollops.

I refrigerated the fat to firm up, then scooped small portions onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. This part takes about 3 to 5 minutes of work.

I froze these spoonfuls on the sheet until solid, then transferred them to a container which is kept in the top basket of the kitchen freezer. When I start a pot of soup by sautéing some onions, I use a fat-dollop in place of oil.

I baked a ham on New Year's Day this year. Afterward, I had about  1  and 1/2 cups of leftover fat. For best flavor, frozen ham fat should be used within 3 to 4 months, or until about the time I bake my next ham, on Easter. 


  1. Way to go! I probably should do that also but I only have gotten to use bacon fat. I may have to rethink this one. I'm sure it gives a better flavor too.

    I chisel out some frozen bacon fat as I need it but that is a difficult task. I used plastic storage container but chiseling out what I need often meant puncturing a hole right through the plastic so now I use glass canning jars. Still a pain but I also found out that if it sits on the counter for just a minute I can slice out a chunk rather quickly. Roasted potatoes in bacon fat is delicious.


  2. Great idea! I haven't historically saved ham fat, but guess what's on the menu today? Yep, the last ham from a whole hog we'd bought a couple years ago now. I do save the bacon fat in jelly jars in the fridge and use that for frying potatoes or squash, to season green beans, etc... .

  3. Great tip! I keep bacon fat in a jar in the fridge,we go thru it pretty quickly so no worries there. I also save poultry and ham fat, sometimes* losing it as I haven't finished it in time,although I tend to make a plan for it. I'll steal this tip from you! Thanks

  4. That's smart to make it easy to use. A little effort upfront makes it much more likely that you will use it when you need it. That's a good rule that applies to many things.

    The only fat I save regularly is bacon fat. We don't have bacon that often, so it's a real treat. My father had three eggs and bacon for breakfast for many years and we always saved the fat in our bacon grease can. Most people kept theirs on top of their stove, but my mother kept ours in the fridge. It might have been her nurses training that made her a little more leery about it going bad.

  5. Hi Alice,
    Yum, potatoes in bacon fat is so good!
    I know what you mean about ruining plastic containers trying to cut out a chunk of frozen fat. I've done that. I'm glad that using a glass jar works so well for you. For myself, I've found that I need even more help to using up leftover meat fat, like I need to make it so easy for myself and the other cooks in the house that this is close to a no-brainer.
    Have a great day, Alice.

  6. Hi Cat,
    Enjoy that last ham!
    I'm curious, how long does bacon fat keep in the fridge before developing an off flavor? Or do you use it up quickly? I had a lot of fat leftover from this ham. So much that I don't think we could use it all in our meal prep in less than 2 or 3 weeks, and that's if everyone remembered to use it. I'm assuming that ham fat would have the same keeping ability as bacon fat, but I could be wrong on that.
    We have a backlog of meat fat right now. I cooked a whole pound of bacon on Christmas day, plus have all of the fat from the Thanksgiving turkey. I've got to motivate myself to use this up!
    Have a great day, Cat!

  7. Hi Carol,
    I think you hit upon what I need to do. I need to make a plan for using the meat fat, like incorporate it's use in my meal planning. It always seems like such a waste to save the fat, then forget to use it until it's been in the freezer for a year or more.
    Have a great day, Carol!

  8. Hi Live and Learn,
    When I met my husband, he was saving bacon fat in a container on the stove. My own mother never used bacon fat in cooking, but we threw it out instead. So, to see my husband saving the bacon fat and reusing it, on top of not keeping it in the fridge at the very least, was kind of alarming to me -- thinking of food-borne disease or health implications. Anyway, he loves it when I use meat fat in cooking, so I started saving it myself, but always in the freezer. Interesting that your mother, as a nurse, chose to store the meat fat in the fridge, in contrast to what others were doing.
    You're right about many applications of some prep work in advance will help us with doing things we have a hard time motivating ourselves to do. That's a good maxim to include on our lives.
    Have a great day, Live and Learn!


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