Once upon a time, thrifty agrarian folks – who were hearty and healthy and rarely suffered from conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes – took great pleasure in the fruits of their labor and enjoyed it to the fullest, wasting not even a morsel or a speck. Especially bacon. They had no qualms about eating bacon every day for breakfast to their heart’s content… and they made sure to save every last drop of the rendered bacon grease to use for frying… or even drinking. (Don’t believe me? Check out this list of grandmas and grandpas who enjoyed their bacon.) For generations, they survived and thrived on bacon (and a few other things of course).
And then in the twentieth century, a new generation came along and declared that those old folks knew nothing. They were killing themselves eating all that nasty saturated fat! No, no, a healthy diet must include no fat at all. OK, maybe some fats, but only the healthy polyunsaturated kinds. Definitely no saturated fats ever. Oh, wait, no, maybe it’s the trans fats that are the problem.
And then heart disease sky-rocketed. So did diabetes. And cancer. And all sorts of other first-world diseases.
Hmmm. Maybe the old folks knew something after all.
Me? I figure they were on to something, and I aim to follow their example. If you’re not convinced, read Food Renegade’s primer on healthy fats. Or any number of well-researched and well-written books like The Good Fat Cookbook, In Defense of Food, Good Calories Bad Calories, or Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It.
Which is why I religiously save every bit of bacon grease when frying up bacon and keep a jar of it in my refrigerator at all times. It is absolutely my favorite way to save money and eat healthy.
Bacon Grease: A Free, Healthy Fat
In my book, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox (You can get the first chapter free simply by subscribing!), I talk about the importance of prioritizing healthy food so that you know where to spend your hard-earned money. I determined that for myself, healthy fats were of the utmost importance, because those unhealthy fats (that everybody says are so good for us… I’m talking about canola oil, vegetable oil, margarine and the like) can do a lot of damage and I want to avoid that if possible.
Unfortunately, healthy fats can be very expensive! To really get the good stuff (expeller-pressed, virgin, etc.), you almost need to spend an arm and a leg. Or at least your entire grocery budget. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way, and bacon grease is one of them.
How to Get Bacon Grease
I buy uncured, nitrite-free and nitrate-free bacon at Trader Joe’s for $3.99 a pound (Grass-fed would be better if you can afford it.) and fry the entire batch up at once. I make sure to fry it at low or medium heat so as not to burn the grease and get all kinds of little black specks in it, as it’s not quite so good (or good for you) then (although some people disagree with me on that). Once all the bacon is cooked, I give the pan and the grease a chance to cool off a little, then I pour the liquid grease through a mesh sieve into a jar. I let it cool completely, and then I store the jar in the fridge.
Some sources say the bacon grease will last a month; others say it will last indefinitely. Saturated fats are pretty stable (which is one reason why they are so healthy), so I personally think it lasts significantly longer than a month. At any rate, it doesn’t stick around here for too much longer than that because I use it for everything!
How I Use Bacon Grease
Although it has a very strong bacon flavor, bacon grease goes well with just about everything. (Bacon makes everything better, dontcha know?) Some of my favorite uses are:
- frying eggs (Mmmmmm!)
- sauteing vegetables
- panfrying meat
- greasing a pan
- cooking green beans (I should have bought green beans at the farmers’ market today)
- refried beans
Our blog have other great ideas for using bacon grease:
- Thirteen Uses for Bacon Grease
- Thrifty Fun: Uses for Bacon Grease
- Bacon Grease Uses (and Bonus! Photos of other people’s bacon jars!)
Or maybe you’re in the mood for Bacon Grease Chocolate Chip Cookies?
Do you save your bacon grease?
Did you know you can also save chicken fat?