If you grew up with Polish grandparents, you’re probably used to seeing a large coffee tin of bacon grease in the fridge. You don’t have to be Polish to take advantage of this thrifty culinary tip, however. Saving your bacon grease is a smart way to cut back on food waste in the kitchen while keeping a tub of condensed flavor at your constant disposal. Ready to take the plunge? Here’s how:
- Cool it. Cool your bacon grease slightly before you pour it into a storage container, or else you risk cracking the container. Simply remove your cooking pan from heat, and let it cool at room temperature until the grease is no longer hot, about five minutes.
- Pour it. Once cooled, transfer your grease to a container. Don’t use plastic—it will leach chemicals directly into your warm grease. Instead, use a glass container, like a Mason jar, or a metal container (old coffee cans and tins are great here). If there’s little to no particle in your grease, simply scrape it directly into the storage container. Otherwise, you may want to strain the grease through a cheesecloth or coffee filter to get rid of excess debris, which can increase the likelihood of your grease going rancid.
- Store it. Cover your container and store your bacon grease in the fridge for up to a month or two. If you happen to have a particularly large amount of bacon grease leftover from a batch of cooking, you can store it in the freezer indefinitely.
- Use it. Bacon grease adds an incredible amount of flavor to any dish with just a tablespoon or two. Need a little inspiration for using it? Try any of these tips:
- Use in place of butter or olive oil for sautés, especially for vegetable and grain dishes and fried eggs
- Melt a tablespoon or two and add to your fave pasta sauce (especially anything with a tomato base—the smoky bacon flavor really kicks it up)
- Use as the base for braising collard greens or kale (add white beans and fresh herbs for a rustic entrée)
- Use in place of butter for making from-scratch pie doughs and pot pies
- Use in place of butter with cookie and scone batters where you want a savory, smoky flare (think dark chocolate and sea salt scones, or maple chocolate chip cookies)