Save Your Bacon

Anyone who has cooked bacon has seen the incredible amount of fat that accumulates in the pan. Municipalities have become aware that this type of grease is wreaking havoc in their septic pipes and they will often encourage citizens to refrain from dumping grease down the drain. Perhaps you are keeping it in an old soup can to throw out in the trash. However there are a few ways of reusing the fats and rich flavours left over from bacon cooking to your advantage.

Let the pan cool to the point where you can touch it without being burned. Place a thick metal spoon or knife in a jar and pour the grease into a jar. The spoon will act as a heat sink and disperse the heat, preventing the cold jar from breaking if the fat is too hot. Remove the knife, cool, seal and store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

If you have dogs, try this trick for cleaning the pan. Place a cup or two of the dry food in the pan, add some hot water from the kettle and leave it soaking until the food absorbs all the liquid with the flavour attached. Store in a container in the fridge and add to your dog’s dish at mealtime in whatever amount you feel comfortable with. You’ll find this greatly helps with cleaning the grease and anything that was stuck on the pan.

For those with no dogs in the family, adding a couple tablespoons of hot water from the kettle to the pan and leaving for a few minutes loosens any matter left from cooking. Scrape the bottom with a spatula and then swab out the pan using a paper towel. You can either compost or place the scrapings and towels in the garbage bin.

So, just how can the reserved bacon fat be used? Simply replace half of the butter called for in any biscuit, cornbread or bannock recipe and relish in its richer taste. To add a little flavour and prevent sticking, melt a teaspoon or two in a pan (in place of oil) when you are cooking patties, sausage or stewing or stir-fry beef. Start off your next batch of bacon with – yes! – bacon grease… it prevents the cold slices from sticking to a dry, hot pan.