What’s better than salty, crispy bacon? Whether you’re eating it as part of a high-protein breakfast, as the main event in a cheeky lunchtime BLT or piled on sweet pancakes, bacon is a treat. In fact, it’s so popular it even pops up in the most unexpected places these days. Bacon jam, bacon brittle, even bacon cupcakes.
And how about bacon grease?
No, not to eat by the spoonful. Bacon fat is a fantastic ingredient that can be used to enrich savory baked goods or as a grease to cook with. It adds flavor to whatever it touches.
Honestly, there are hundreds of fantastic ways to use bacon grease. Soon, you’ll probably be working out new bacon grease recipes daily. As a newbie, though, you may be asking…
Does Bacon Grease Go Bad?
What’s the point of slowly cooking bacon to render the fat if it doesn’t last?
Not to worry, bacon grease keeps really well as long as you store it in an airtight glass jar. Remember to strain all the solids out of bacon fat to make sure it doesn’t go bad, though.
And keep in mind that bacon grease isn’t exactly pretty. It’s solid at room temperature, and often brown or grey colored inside and cloudy. That doesn’t mean it has gone bad. In fact, bacon grease lasts up to 6 months in the pantry and a full year in the fridge!
Of course, this is only true if you store it correctly.
How to Store Bacon Grease
As I already mentioned, bacon fat (like other similar fats) is best kept in an airtight glass jar. As glass is nonporous and heat resistant, there will be no leaching of smell or taste from the container to the bacon grease even over a long period of time.
Strain your bacon grease into your jar after letting it cool slightly. You might want to use a mason jar, a thoroughly cleaned recycled jar, or even a specific fat storage jar. These can be purchased on Amazon and come with a built-in strainer to keep the solids out. If you’re using another type of jar, make sure you pour the grease through a fine metal mesh sieve. If you’re being extra careful and have it to hand, you can also add some muslin. Obviously, a wide-mouthed jar works best to catch the fat!
Make sure the lid of your jar fits well and seals. You don’t want any air getting in, as that will allow your bacon grease to go bad.
Store the jar in the fridge or in a pantry or cupboard. At room temperature, you should be able to scoop the bacon fat out easily with a spoon. In the fridge it will be a little more solid, so you may need to warm the portion you are using gently before adding it to a recipe or cooking with it.
What Makes Bacon Grease go Bad?
There are three main factors in bacon grease going moldy or rancid.
These are heat, light, and air. You’re keeping the air out with your airtight lid, so well done.
Remember to keep the bacon grease somewhere dark if you want it to stay fresh longer.
Fat can be kept out on the counter in a jar, but this only makes sense if you use it very often. And by very often I mean daily or multiple times a day.
If the bacon grease is kept close to the stove or a window it may end up melting and resolidifying often. That isn’t good for the fat, as it causes it to break down. Try to keep your jar of bacon grease somewhere cool.
Finally, there’s the additional wildcard: meat solids. The pieces of meat will go bad before the more stable grease, ruining the whole thing. That’s why most people strain as much of the solid bacon out of bacon grease as possible.
Can You Freeze Bacon Grease?
Yes, you can freeze bacon grease.
Only freeze your fat if you don’t use it very often or have a lot of excess.
Bacon grease freezes quite hard and defrosting and refreezing isn’t recommended, so think about freezing small portions or else use a warmed spoon to scoop it from frozen.
Ice cube trays are great for freezing individual portions of bacon grease but be sure to label them. You don’t want to end up with bacon fat ice cubes in your drink!
Can you Reuse Bacon Grease?
While you can technically reuse bacon grease safely you won’t get the best out of second-hand fat.
Bacon grease will take on the flavor of whatever is cooked in it, so unless you only use bacon grease to make one specific meal reusing it isn’t a great idea.
Plus, debris from cooking might end up in your bacon grease and speed up the process of it going off.
Anyway, running out of bacon fat is a great excuse to make and eat a great big pile of fresh bacon!
You can reuse the same jar indefinitely for your bacon grease as long as you thoroughly clean it between batches.
How Long Does Bacon Grease Last
Depending on how you store it, bacon grease can last between one and eighteen months. It’s amazing that so many people throw such a useful, longlasting product away really.
Left out on the counter where it might get light and experience changes in temperature, you can only expect bacon grease to last about 4 weeks. Only store it in this way if you use it a lot and easy access is your number one priority.
In a dark place that is always reasonably cool, your bacon grease should be fine for longer. Potentially a few months.
Of course, the refrigerator is the ultimate cool dark place in any kitchen! Refrigerate strained bacon grease and it will last 6 to 12 months.
If you freeze bacon grease it lasts a year to 18 months.
How to tell if Bacon Grease is Bad
No matter how you store your bacon fat, it will eventually go bad. But how can you tell if it does?
Don’t worry, it’s really easy.
When bacon grease goes bad it’s usually because it’s becoming rancid. This happens when the fat oxidizes.
You can tell bacon grease is rancid by the taste and smell. It will become bitter and smell sort of acidic. The process isn’t always quick, so if your bacon grease tastes a little ‘off’ it may be on its way to rancid. As with most foods, it’s best to err on the side of caution especially if you think you have stored your bacon grease poorly.
Tasting a little rancid bacon grease won’t harm you, so a taste test is totally fine if you’re in doubt.
Bacon grease can also develop mold, though this will usually be because some outside element has gotten in or the solids have not all been drained out.
If your bacon grease is discolored at the surface or has dramatically changed texture at the surface, it may be moldy. Mold needs air to grow, so you shouldn’t find it inside the grease unless you have disturbed it already.
Some people simply keep adding fresh bacon grease to their pot of fat and mixing it in. You can do this, but don’t do it indefinitely. Label the mixed bacon grease with the date the first fat was added, and use that as a guide to tell you when to throw it out and start again. Without a label, you might not be able to clearly tell when the grease at the bottom of the jar is passed its best, but it will deplete in quality.
Discarding Bacon Grease
Often, people new to cooking with animal fat will ask if it is okay to pour bacon grease down the drain.
Most people have an inkling, maybe from watching their parents or being told in a home economics class, that you mustn’t dispose of bacon fat in the sink! And that inkling is absolutely correct.
Bacon grease can block drains, and blocked drains mean costly and time-consuming repairs. Even if the fat doesn’t block your drain it’s bad for the water and sewage system in general.
Rather than pouring it away, you should simply wait for bacon grease to solidify and scoop it into the trash. Get any leftover bacon grease out the pan by wiping with a paper towel and throwing that away. Remember, you can’t recycle the paper towel once it’s soaked in grease!
How to use up Bacon Grease
There are loads of ways to cook with bacon grease. If you have a lot stored and are looking for fresh ideas, why not try making a batch of popcorn with it, roasting potatoes in it or cooking pretty much any breakfast food in a big spoonful?
You can also use it as a fat in baking. It’s great in cornbread for example.
Bacon grease has also been used for a long time to season cast iron, and to make fat and seed balls to feed birds during the leaner months!