How long can you keep bacon grease in the fridge? I'd guess forever, but it sounds scary...
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I would have to guess that it would be as good as the expiration date on the bacon itself. How I understand it the fat in meat is what makes meat go rancid. Having said that, most packaged bacon is cured with modern cure and if kept refridgerated should last for some time. But, it never last long enough to go bad because I like to cut the fat into bisquit dough. I learned this while working my way through the deep south.
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Bacon grease lasts much, much longer than the bacon from which it's made. At least, that's my experience. That's why it's so wonderful to have around. I save bacon grease in a glass jar in the fridge and have been doing so for years. We usually go through it pretty consistently, but occasionally I've had jars around for over a month or two, and it is always exactly the same, whether used a day after or a month. Just make sure you keep it cold. Mrs. Rombauer concurs, by the way. My old edition of The Joy actually has an index entry called, "Bacon Drippings, How to Use," and in the related text, says, "Bacon drippings will keep indefinitely. Use them for sautéing meats, potatoes, mushrooms, eggs, etc." Of course, I don't need Mrs. R to tell me that, but it's nice to see that I'm in good company. ;o)
The only argument I have about the JOY of Cooking is that it was written over thirty years ago. A lot has change in the health code relating to food born illness that has surfaceed in the last thirty years. Are they still preserving bacon the same way they were thirty years ago? Just a few thoughts. I wonder from a professional stand point what my health department would say if I wanted to use it in a commercial kitchen.
Many people don't refrigerate it at all. I don't know what our local public health code says about it. I haven't had a chance to read the lead story in today's New York Times Dining (I still call it the "Food") section about whether home kitchens would be shut down by the health inspectors. Based on the photo in the West Coast edition, I suspect mine would. That said, I'm in great health and have never had a problem with any illness related to food, at least not food made in my house. I'm going to research this further, though, because I'm curious. ;o)
AJ-I'm with you on this being interesting. It really has had me thinking for a few hours now. I've been a professional chef all my life so it's hard to not look at this subject through those eyes. But I do love bacon fat for it's many uses and from the nothing goes to waste attitude I was brought up. Please understand my arguements mean no disrespect. Cheers!
I can testify anecdotally that I have grown up with saving bacon grease in a crock on top of the (electric) stove constantly. Periodically, the darker solids would condense at the bottom of the crock to the point that we'd scoop off the purer lard from the top, dump the remainder, wash the crock and start back; I'd expect that happened every couple of months. Never seemed to hurt anyone. I don't use as much bacon grease as my mother and grandmother did, so I periodically clean out my crock and, being congenitally unable to throw it out, I freeze it.
Try popping popcorn in it. It's wonderful.
Sugar's right. Freeze it. Even better, chill the bacon grease till scoopable, then freeze in 1 tablespoon portions and stick the frozen lard balls in a ziploc, then store in freezer indefinitely. Easy to measure this way. Let's ask thirschfeld. I bet he would know the answer to this question.
I'm in the "keep forever" camp. I will take the extra step and keep it in the fridge. Growing up, it was as Kayb, in a jar on top the stove.
I love using bacon grease as the requisite fat in bread dough.
Nitrates and nitrites tend to break down once cooked, so two of the key preservatives, which really are only use to keep bacteria away while the bacon is curing, are gone so they say.. What is still there is salt and sugar which act as a preservative. The next key is how cleanly was it rendered, meaning is it pure fat or are there water particles trapped. Kayb has it right in that the stuff at the bottom is what will go bad but usually only if it gets air. The grease lid works like a natural canning method. Never the less us common sense, it is easy to tell if it has gone bad just by using you nose, eyes and fingers. I have found that chicken fat goes bad first, then I have had duck fat go bad but someone stuck a dirty spoon in it and lard will go rotten two, goose fat has always lasted the longest. Freezers and fat don't get along and fat will go bad in the freezer.
Somehow I hit submit accidentally. I have had bacon fat go bad but it usually takes along time. If you aren't using it then I have to ask why save it? Meaning only save what you will use in a month. If you have to freeze it you are producing more than you are using so maybe you should figure out how much you need say for a month, fill a jar with that amount of grease and then start a second jar. When the second is full get rid of the first.
tom, this is the oddest thing. you have always impressed me with your knowledge and your cooking talents, but I have never had any problem with fat going bad in the freezer. Bacon, duck and goose are the only ones i use, btw., and they all come from my baking bacon, smoking duck and goose and then making stock.
I have never had a frozen fat go bad in the frzr or the frig.
Oh and Kayb I posted a popcorn in bacon fat recipe yesterday, just sort of ironic.
The nice thing about fat is that when it's rancid, you KNOW it. It smells bad and tastes worse. I keep bacon grease (and schmaltz, which is the chicken equivalent) in the fridge until I use it up, which often takes months.
Again I must weigh in. Only nitrites are used in the curing of baking. Regulation prohibits the use of nitrates in curing bacon and bacon only because it is too hard to control and can actually poison the food being cured with the slightest miscalculation. Although modern cure does have both.
How I understand bacteria, it needs three things to survive: a protien source, available moisture and nuetral or moderate PH. Bacteria can cause food spoilage with no odor. Food that contains pathogens in large numbers can cause illness and still look and smell normal. So it is not a legitimate arguement to me to go by smell and look.
DonnyG thanks for pointing our my mistake you are right about nitrates, I was thinking about all cures, and should have been focused on the bacon. But they do use them in lots of cured meats where botulism is a concern such as air dried cured sausages and sausages that may go into a cold smoker for a long period of time where oxygen may be depleted. Maybe the old kitchen rule is appropriate, when in doubt through it out.
Thanks-Thirschfeld- I just see alot of advice that's potentally dangerous. I say potentally is the key word. I know people have been doing this thier whole lives with out fail. But, from a professional sanitary standpoint I can't buy into home kitchen's being exempt from sanitary rule. Yes, when in doubt throw it out. I also like the thought of the two jars. Great idea.
Sounds like the key is to have cleanly rendered and filtered bacon grease for it to last a long time and not go rancid. So strain out all the burnt bits as well as you can and store in the fridge. What about things like duck confit - isn't that salt-cured duck meat poached in duck fat and preserved in the fat for many months? If sealed properly, that fat doesn't go bad, correct? I hear it makes great french fries.
MrsL, I think DonnyG has some important points her too. One being unseen pathogens, and that a clean kitchen is a happy kitchen. The pathogens are do not generally exist in a food product bit rather are intoduced. The two most serious being staff and listeria. This why working clean is important. Staff usually comes from a cut and it isn't the staff itself that is bad but the toxins left behind. Listeria is one found in standing water i.e. A drain pipe. My point is we are trying to keep things as long as possible and then guess if it is good or not. Cook with fresh ingredients, cook only enough for lunch leftovers and you will be much safer in the end. The awful truth is once you food gets below 140 degrees things start growing immediately. It is really about controlling the quantity of these things. My motto, fresh is best and use it or loose it.
I guess we just need to learn to keep those important safety points in mind. That's a very hard thing to do for some. It's really difficult for some people to throw any kind of food out, be it bacon grease or over-ripe fruit or last week's chicken that you forgot to finish or whatever, especially if you were raised in a "waste not, want not", frugal environment. I think another important point is everyone should label their food containers with the date it was made if you'll be storing it in the fridge or freezer. Painter's tape and sharpies are my favorite tools for this.
I love that this issue has generated so much great discussion... For the record, I do keep my bacon grease in the fridge, but I loved the idea of freezing it in ice cube trays. Thirschfeld, why is that a bad idea?
I am just of the opinion people think their freezer will preserve things for eternity which it will but I a not sure you will find the food quality appealing. Fat in the freezer for any long periods of time gets funky. Your freezer will not kill bacteria but will keep it from growing if it is set for 0 degrees or lower. When it comes to bacon fat, duck fat or chicken fat I just think it stays good for a long time in the fridge if you aren't using what you have in the fridge why freeze it? To me it says you aren't using it and you should just discard it. If you go to the USDA they will give you times that things can be held in the freezer but this is a guidline for quality not because it will go bad. Notice bacon is first on the chart and they say 1 to 2 months. This is the USDA page I went to http://www.fsis.usda.gov...
I just bought some about 3 weeks ago, and the expiration on it is: Oct. 2015. It's refrigerate after opening. It sells 3 pk (11 oz each) so I have two in the pantry, and one in the fridge.