Bacon grease is a delicious byproduct of cooking bacon, and many people love to reuse it in their cooking. But is it safe to do so?
There are a lot of misconceptions and conflicting opinions out there, so we’ve done the research to bring you the facts.
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about reusing bacon grease, including how to store it properly, how long it lasts, and whether or not it’s safe to cook with.
So grab a slice of bacon (or two) and let’s dive in!
Is It Safe To Reuse Bacon Grease?
The short answer is yes, it is safe to reuse bacon grease. However, there are some important things to keep in mind.
First and foremost, you should never reuse bacon grease that has gone rancid or moldy. Before using any stored bacon grease, give it a sniff and a visual inspection. If it smells or looks off, it’s best to toss it out.
Additionally, it’s important to store bacon grease properly to prevent it from going bad. Bacon grease can be stored in the pantry or fridge, but it’s best to keep it in an airtight container and away from sources of heat or sunlight. If stored properly, bacon grease can last up to 6 months in the fridge and indefinitely in the freezer.
When cooking with bacon grease, it’s important to keep in mind that it has a lower smoke point than some other oils. This means that it can burn easily if heated too high, which can create harmful compounds. To avoid this, use bacon grease for lower-heat cooking methods like sautéing or frying eggs.
What Is Bacon Grease And How Is It Made?
Bacon grease, also known as bacon fat or bacon drippings, is a byproduct of cooking bacon. When bacon is cooked slowly at a low temperature, the fat from the pork belly is rendered off and becomes liquid. The resulting fat is then strained and stored for later use.
To make bacon grease, start by cooking bacon in a cast-iron pan or heavy skillet over low heat for 10-12 minutes. The slower the cooking process, the more fat will be rendered off. Once the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan and strain the liquid fat through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove any bits of bacon.
The resulting liquid fat will become semi-solid at room temperature and can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Bacon grease can also be stored in the freezer indefinitely.
Bacon grease can replace other fats in recipes and is commonly used in Southern-style cooking. It has a low smoke point, so it’s best used for moderate sautéing, roasting, and baking. Bacon grease has a smoky flavor that can enhance both sweet and savory dishes.
The Benefits Of Reusing Bacon Grease
Reusing bacon grease has numerous benefits beyond just adding flavor to your dishes. One of the biggest advantages is that it can save you money on cooking oils and butter. By reusing bacon grease, you can reduce your grocery bill and make your meals more affordable.
In addition to being cost-effective, reusing bacon grease is also an environmentally friendly practice. By reducing the amount of oil and butter you use, you’re cutting down on waste and helping to conserve resources. This makes it a great option for those who are looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Another benefit of reusing bacon grease is that it’s a healthier alternative to some other processed or hydrogenated oils. While it’s still important to enjoy bacon grease in moderation, it contains less saturated fat than butter and some other cooking oils. This can help you maintain a healthier diet without sacrificing flavor.
Finally, reusing bacon grease is a great way to add a smoky, savory flavor to your dishes. Whether you’re frying eggs or roasting vegetables, bacon grease can add a delicious depth of flavor that’s hard to replicate with other cooking oils. Plus, it’s versatile enough to use in a wide range of recipes, from cornbread to chocolate chip cookies.
How To Store Bacon Grease Properly
Storing bacon grease properly is key to ensuring its safety and longevity. While many people may have grown up with the habit of storing bacon grease in a jar on the counter, this method is not recommended by food safety experts. Instead, the best place to store bacon grease is in the refrigerator or freezer.
To store bacon grease in the refrigerator, strain out any bits of leftover bacon with a coffee filter or mesh strainer before pouring it into an airtight container. This will help prevent any bacterial growth and keep the fat soft enough to scoop. Bacon grease stored in the fridge can last for up to three months.
If you prefer to store your bacon grease in the freezer, portion small amounts by letting the grease cool slightly, then strain and pour it into freezer-safe containers. Bacon grease stored in the freezer can last indefinitely, but it’s important to defrost it in the refrigerator overnight before using.
When storing bacon grease, it’s important to never pour fresh, strained fat into an old jar that still contains old used fat. Instead, use up what’s in the old jar first before pouring fresh fat into a new container.
How Long Does Bacon Grease Last?
The shelf life of bacon grease can vary depending on how it is stored. If left at room temperature, it will eventually go bad and should not be reused. However, if stored properly, bacon grease can last for several months.
Homemade bacon grease can last for about 6 months at room temperature and up to a year in the refrigerator. Store-bought bacon grease can last for about 4 to 6 months at room temperature and up to two years in the fridge. It’s important to note that these are just estimates and the actual shelf life can vary depending on the quality of the grease and how well it is stored.
To ensure that your bacon grease lasts as long as possible, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. When freezing, make sure to use a container that is designed for freezing and leave some extra space at the top to allow for expansion.
It’s also important to strain out any leftover bits of bacon before storing the grease, as this can cause it to spoil more quickly. When using stored bacon grease, always give it a sniff and visual inspection before using it to make sure that it hasn’t gone bad.
The Risks Of Reusing Bacon Grease
While it is safe to reuse bacon grease, there are some risks associated with doing so. One of the main risks is that the grease can absorb flavors and odors from the food it was previously used to cook. This can alter the taste of your next dish and may not be desirable.
Another risk is that bacteria can grow in the grease if it is not stored properly or if it has been used multiple times. This can lead to foodborne illness if the bacteria are not killed during cooking.
Furthermore, each time you reuse bacon grease, its smoke point decreases, making it more likely to burn and create harmful compounds. This can also affect the taste and quality of your food.
To minimize these risks, it’s best to only reuse bacon grease once or twice and store it properly in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. Additionally, make sure to strain out any bits of leftover bacon before storing the grease.