Another Healthy Fat for Free! {Something from Nothing}

something from nothing graphic 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

Some other bloggers have other great ideas for using bacon grease:

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?

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Comments

  1. Vikki says:

    Only 1 month in the frig? Um, not everyone even refrigerates their bacon grease. The just leave it on the back of the stove in a jar, ready to use. It keeps in the frig for may months. I use mine for a lot of things too. How else can you make a great fried egg or fry up some ham in the morning?

    • Anne says:

      I know; I’ve kept mine for as long as two months without any problem, but I’ve never kept it longer than that because we use it up. I’m personally not at all concerned about it going bad, but I know some people are a little more leary about these things than I am, so I figured I’d share the range so they can decide what they’re comfortable with.

  2. I grew up with a bacon grease can sitting on the stove. We used it for pretty much everything and boy, did it taste good. I only use it occasionally now.

    • Anne says:

      Yes, one of those articles I posted above explains the difference between storing it on the stove and in the fridge. She says that the old-timers used it so often that storing it on the stove top was fine; they used it up before it went bad. Most people nowadays don’t use it up enough, so it needs to be kept in the fridge to extend its life. I don’t like things cluttering up my counters and stove top so I keep mine in the fridge.

  3. I LOVE bacon grease! I almost always pull out it out when sauteing veggies, especially cabbage and green beans. We keep ours refrigerated, and keep adding to it as we make bacon on the weekends.

  4. Jami Leigh says:

    My husband will love you for this post ;) He LOVES bacon but I never cook it. I love your perspective on it though! I just hate the taste of bacon lol

  5. It’s true. Bacon makes everything better. I started saving mine recently, although we’ve decided we prefer the taste or turkey bacon – which means no extra fat :-(. But still, when we do get it, I save it and make the rest of our meals amazing.

    • Anne says:

      I used to buy turkey bacon a lot because it was cheaper, but I finally just made room in the budget for the real bacon because we all love it so much. And I love the bacon grease!

  6. WOW! As thrifty as I am, I can’t believe I’ve been throwing away all my good bacon grease! I’ll be keeping it from now on…thank you! As a matter of fact, I think I’ll go make some bacon (and grease) right now! :)

  7. Stephanie says:

    Another use – popping popcorn. Yum!

  8. Lisa says:

    What a great idea. It never occurred to me to save bacon grease. Linking up behind you on Teach Me Tuesdays

  9. Gin says:

    I save my bacon grease, too, and use it cornbread. Yum. I can remember going to my great-grandparents’ house (both born in the late 1890s and lived until the 1980s) and seeing the jar of bacon grease on the shelf of their old-fashioned stove. Ditto my grandmothers and mom.

  10. Heidi says:

    Everything is better with pork fat! We currently have 4 jars of bacon fat on the go. I keep them in the fridge and they keep indefinitely. I use them for sauteeing and greasing pans. It adds lots of flavour and keeps my cast iron in great condition.

  11. Patricia says:

    I cook an entire package of bacon in a few hours on my George Foreman grill. Don’t have to worry about grease spattering, grease fires or bacon curling up. The temperature of the grill is low enough that I can put bacon on the grill and do things like watch TV, read or do some laundry and just check on it every 5-10 mintues or so. When the little grease tray starts to get full I pour it into a glass jar.

  12. Bonnie says:

    Duh! The fridge! I keep bacon grease, but it goes bad. Especially in the summer. Usually I use it to make bird suet and, if it is fresh, for cornbread. I can’t believe I didn’t think to keep it in the fridge. Breakfast eggs here I come. Thank you for the dumb blonde moment. I am now enlightened and I’m not joking.

  13. Rachel says:

    You are speaking my language! I love bacon grease and use it for seasoning veggies, cooking eggs, you name it! YUM!

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