Make Your Bacon Grease Stash Last Way Longer With One Extra Step

No matter how bacon is cooked, there's always going to be the issue of grease to clean up. Leftover bacon grease presents a kitchen conundrum: It absolutely can't be poured down the drain, but saving it for later to cook with seems like more trouble than it's worth. However, anyone that has slapped a spoonful of bacon grease into a pan in place of butter or oil knows how good it is, adding a distinct, delicious flavor to any food it's cooked with. And, it saves money on buying other often expensive cooking oils. Basically, the juice is worth the squeeze.

To make sure that your bacon grease lasts as long as possible, it's best to take one extra step and filter the contents before sealing in a jar. When bacon is cooked in a pan or skillet, it's common for little bits of meat to break off and mix with the grease. After cooling, these bits will remain and cause problems in the future. If grease with bacon pieces is used for cooking, those pieces will burn and add an unpleasant flavor to the food, which completely counteracts the point of using it in the first place. This detritus also affects its shelf life since meat will rotten before the fat and can ruin an entire jar, meaning all that hard work goes right down the drain. (Just not literally down the drain because that will create a plumbing nightmare.)

Coffee filters are the best method for preparing bacon grease

The best tool for straining bacon grease is something that can be found in most homes: coffee filters. After all, they do an excellent job of keeping coffee grounds separate from liquid and they are a nifty hack for saving uncorked wine, so they'll certainly work for bacon scraps, too. To do so, place the filter in the opening of a jar. Once the hot grease has cooled but is not solidified, carefully pour it over the filter into the jar, making sure that nothing shifts out of place. After the liquid is saved, you can disposed of everything else.

There are a few other kitchen tools that could also work. A mesh, metal sieve has a similar effect but might still allow the smallest bits of bacon to sneak through. Another option is a cheesecloth, however, they are not as common in many home kitchens. A downside for both of these methods is they require additional cleaning after the filtering is done and grease has a nasty habit of sticking around even after a vigorous scrub. 

For long-lasting bacon grease, store it in the fridge

Given the right conditions, bacon grease can last indefinitely. Bacterial growth is severely limited in environments of pure fat, but achieving that purity at home is extremely difficult. No matter how well the grease is filtered and how tight the container is vacuum sealed, it's likely the contents will be exposed to oxygen and therefore microbes that can initiate the spoiling process, especially if the container is consistently opened and closed when used regularly for cooking.

Bacon grease can be kept at room temperature (just note it starts to liquefy at 80 degrees Fahrenheit). However, its shelf life extends dramatically when it's kept in the refrigerator. Cold temperatures, while not totally destroying bacteria, do inhibit their growth. This means that bacon grease can last in the fridge anywhere from six months to a year. In the freezer, it can keep even longer; a fun hack is to pour grease into ice cube trays for easy single servings. Beyond its shelf life benefits, refrigeration or freezing also keeps grease in a stable, solid form, making it easier to scoop and measure when you want to cook with it.