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How long does bacon grease last?

How long does bacon grease last?

Bacon grease is the unsung hero when it comes to cooking fats and oils.

Despite being a common ingredient for cooks of yesteryear, today it is not used as much. This is mostly because people don’t know how best to prepare it, let alone store it!

But even if you’re in the habit of saving bacon grease, you may be wondering about its shelf life.

Many people assume that, being an unprocessed animal product, it only lasts a day or two. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

So how long can bacon grease last? At room temperature, bacon grease can last 2-4 weeks, while if kept in the fridge, it can last up to a year or even longer. Properly frozen bacon grease can last for years.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at all things bacon grease. From what it is, how it is made, how it is used, but above all, how it is stored and how much time you have to make delicious use of it.

What is bacon grease?

Bacon grease, or bacon grease as many people know it, is the fat that is released from bacon when it is cooked in a specific way.

This method is called rendering and it is the process of cooking the fat to help it release the fatty liquids and create a more useful and usable ingredient.

When bacon grease is heated, it is a semi-clear (almost cloudy or milky) fatty liquid. When its temperature drops, the liquid solidifies, producing a solid, semi-hard white mass of fat. Bacon fat acts much like coconut oil in this regard.

Due to the way bacon grease is produced and, most importantly, the source (cured or smoked pork), the flavor of bacon grease is unparalleled.

People often say that olive oil tastes better than canola oil, and that butter tastes better than margarine; Well, that’s how we feel about bacon grease!

This fat not only acts as a lubricant for your food, but adds a ton of flavor at the same time. The best way to describe it would be a combination of perfectly balanced umami notes, with an evident saltiness and smoky undertones.

It will literally make any bland dish taste new and unique, even simple fried eggs!

Bacon fat has very similar cooking characteristics to lard (another fat obtained from the processing of pork). It has a smoke point of about 374°F (190°C). It’s not very high, and we definitely don’t recommend frying food in it, but it’s not low either.

This smoke point means you can easily cook, fry and sauté virtually any dish without the risk of it starting to smoke. However, it has a better chance of burning before you start smoking.

Where do you get bacon grease?

This is a question we are asked very often. Bacon grease is mostly made at home when making bacon, but lately we have seen more and more stores stock up on this product.

As always, we highly recommend making your own, and with bacon grease you’re already doing that every time you cook bacon; it’s just a matter of pouring it into a jar and saving it for later use!

We also love the fact that bacon fat is an unprocessed fat, making it so much more natural (and healthier) compared to processed fats and oils like margarine and seed oil blends.

There are a couple of ways to cook bacon for the best results. When you cook bacon over very high heat, the fat released often burns off and eventually evaporates, leaving you with a teaspoon or two of fat.

What you want is to cook the bacon low and slow to get as much fat as possible that is clear and doesn’t burn.

“Make” your own bacon grease

Although you can technically buy bacon grease, there’s really no reason to most of the time. If you’re going to make bacon at home once in a while anyway, you can scoop up that bacon grease and save it for a rainy day.

Here’s how to get the fat out of bacon by cooking it normally in a skillet:

  1. Heat a nonstick skillet or cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. You can add a drop of olive oil or butter to help lubricate the bacon and prevent it from burning, but because of this cooking method, the bacon won’t stick so it’s not necessary.
  2. Add the bacon to the pan in a single layer. Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes or until the bacon is fully cooked. If the bacon cooks too fast at any point, lower the heat.
  3. Remove the bacon from the pan and set it aside. While the fat is still hot and in its liquid form, pour it into a glass container and allow it to cool completely, uncovered.

If you cook the bacon in the oven (hey, we get it; sometimes you’re too busy to handle breakfast in the morning), you can save the bacon fat for later!

How to get fat out of bacon when cooking in the oven

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. Place a single layer of bacon on a wire rack. Place the rack on a drip tray or cookie sheet (any type of tray that can catch all the drippings).
  3. Place the rack and tray in the oven and cook the bacon for 8-12 minutes or until fully cooked.
  4. Once cooked, remove the tray from the oven, set aside the bacon and pour the bacon fat into a glass jar. Let the fat cool completely, uncovered.

tips and tricks

If the fat has solidified (i.e., it has gotten too cold), simply reheat it before putting it in a jar. Moving it into the container when it is in its liquid form will use much less space than filling a container with solid chunks.

Glass jars or containers work best because they can be sterilized and do not retain stains or odors from previous meals.

This will help extend the life of your bacon grease, compared to storing it in plastic or metal containers. The glass will not affect the grease in any way.

How long does bacon grease last?

If bacon fat is stored with the correct methods, without impurities and without changes in light or temperature, it has the potential to last a long time; you will most likely use a batch before it expires.

storage method Useful life
Room temperature (68-72°F / 20-22°C) 2-4 weeks
Refrigerator (40°F / 4°C) 6-12 months
Freezer (0°F / -18°C) 1-2 years

The exact expiration date for bacon grease is very difficult to determine due to the wide variety of factors that affect it. These are only estimates and you should always check the grease for signs of deterioration before using it.

Store-bought bacon grease will last about the same amount of time, unless it’s been processed, in which case follow the “use by” or expiration date printed on the package.

In general, we’d say bacon grease lasts 2-4 weeks at room temperature and 6-12 months in the fridge.

Here’s how to properly preserve bacon grease by method, so read on to make sure your delicious ingredient preserves well enough to last this long.

How to Tell if Bacon Grease Is Rancid

Since bacon fat is an animal product, you should never risk consuming rancid or even suspected spoiled products.

There are a couple of very obvious signs when bacon grease has gone bad, but there are also less obvious ones:

The first and most obvious sign that your bacon grease is bad is the smell. Spoiled bacon grease has a very noticeable rancid and sour odor. This smell translates directly into the taste, so if you don’t smell it, you’ll definitely know it right away.

The second very noticeable change is the color. It will turn from its milky white color to a yellowish color, and sometimes even brown.

Other signs of spoiled bacon fat are changes in its texture. Bacon grease sometimes becomes crumbly, moldy, or watery. Which one is exactly depends on the bacteria present in the fat.

That’s why it’s important to strain the fat and remove any solid particles if you plan to store it for a long time. These bits can introduce bacteria, causing rapid spoilage.

If the fat in your bacon has reached its estimated expiration date, don’t risk consuming it. Expired animal products can cause serious food poisoning, even death in extreme cases.

If you suspect that the bacon grease is spoiled, throw it away instead. It doesn’t cost much to make, as it’s a by-product, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

How to Save Bacon Grease

Once you’ve melted the bacon and placed the liquid shortening into mason jars, you need to allow the shortening to cool completely, uncovered (i.e. no jar lids and no plastic lids) before you even consider storing it. .

When you store hot food that is sealed, you create an optimal environment for harmful bacteria to thrive and cause the food to spoil, which can lead to severe food poisoning.

As with all foods, the biggest enemies are light, air, and moisture.

Whichever storage method you choose, make sure the container is kept away from bright direct light, air (so it should always be sealed), and moisture (which can form from condensation when stored). store in warm areas).

Storing Bacon Grease in the Fridge

You can store bacon grease quickly and easily by sticking it in the fridge. You just have to follow a few steps to make sure it is stored safely:

  1. Pour the hot, liquid bacon grease into a glass jar or container. Allow to cool completely at room temperature, uncovered.
  2. Once completely cooled, seal the jar or container with its lid (or wrap it tightly in plastic or saran paper if you don’t have a lid). As the liquid cools, it will turn into a solid and turn a milky white color.
  3. Place the jar of bacon grease in the fridge, away from light and fluctuating temperatures.

Storing Bacon Grease in the Freezer

You can also freeze the bacon grease if you don’t expect to cook with it any time soon.

This is how you should do it:

  1. Pour the liquid fat into a freezer-safe glass container.
  2. Once completely cooled, uncovered, seal with a lid or plastic wrap.
  3. Place the container or jar in the freezer, in a safe area without temperature fluctuations.

Tricks and tips

  • The fat in your bacon shouldn’t constantly liquefy and solidify . This reduces the quality of the bacon fat and decreases its shelf life. This means that you need to have very stable temperatures in the fridge and freezer, and also not constantly take the container out of the fridge for long periods of time. Bacon grease liquefies at 80°F (26°C), just above room temperature.
  • Store it in smaller containers for ease of use and prolong the shelf life of the batch.
  • If you plan to store the fat for a long time, strain out any solid chunks or pieces before storing . These solids are impurities and can affect the shelf life of your bacon grease.
  • The labeling of your jars or containers is very important. The label must include the following information: what product it is (bacon fat), when it was produced, and the estimated expiration date.
  • Don’t constantly fill the same grease pot with new grease . This will cause the old grease in the bottom to go rancid because it is never used. Instead, start a new, small jar for each batch, so you can apply FIFO (first-in, first-out stock rotation).

Can bacon grease be stored at room temperature?

Bacon grease can be stored at room temperature, but keep in mind that its shelf life will be considerably shorter than if you keep it in the fridge.

Room temperature should be around 68-72 °F (20-22 °C) if you want to store the bacon grease.

The storage method is exactly the same, but instead of placing it in the fridge, you can place it in the pantry or food cabinet.

Keep the container away from heat sources (so don’t store it next to the microwave, oven, stove, or even next to the fridge). Keep it away from direct sunlight and light sources.

How to use bacon grease

Bacon grease is a very versatile ingredient, just as much as any other cooking oil or fat.

It is primarily used for frying, browning, and cooking foods such as meats, vegetables, and even herbs and spices, but it can also be used in other forms of cooking.

It’s ideal for grilling foods, quickly sautéing ingredients, or even deep frying. You can also use it to grill meats or vegetables as it adds a wonderful smoky flavor.

Here are some of the more unique ways to use bacon grease in food:

  • Make salty popcorn by adding fat to the pot instead of oil.
  • Make cookies (or scones) using shortening instead of butter.
  • Make sauces like marinades, sauces, mayonnaises, and virtually any dipping sauce.
  • Cook grains and legumes with it, for example, make fried rice with eggs, make quinoa or couscous.
  • Make a savory quiche or pie crust.
  • Make a wide variety of delicious soups.

What is the difference between lard and bacon grease?

The two are very similar, since both are obtained from the extraction of the fat of the pig. The main difference is that lard is obtained by rendering fresh meat fat, while bacon fat is obtained by rendering bacon, a piece of already processed (cured and smoked) pork.

How do you thaw frozen bacon grease?

You can let the bacon grease thaw in the fridge (never at room temperature, as the risk of bacterial growth is too high) for a few hours, or you can thaw it in cold water.

Cold water is much faster, but it does take some work. You have to change the water every 30 minutes approximately with fresh cold water. In 1-2 hours, the bacon grease will be ready to use.

Can bacon grease be frozen twice?

Contrary to what we often say about freezing things twice, bacon grease is one of the few exceptions. You can refreeze the bacon grease, as long as it hasn’t been microwaved or reheated.

However, we still recommend freezing the bacon grease in smaller containers, rather than freezing, reheating, and refreezing. Freezing bacon grease twice will greatly affect its shelf life and certainly its quality.