Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
Do you know how little bits and pieces of solid fat can be found on cold cooked foods containing meat, no matter how carefully you’ve cut off the fat before cooking? Little bits can be found on a roast or on the top of a stew or a soup. Most people know that cooking hamburger or bacon will leave a ton of grease in the pan. Hamburger grease is usually tossed in the trash. Bacon grease is sometimes saved to use as flavoring but it too is very often tossed out.
Let me tell you what my Grandma Mama taught me to do. She saved those bits and pieces of the solid grease found on cold cooked foods. Sometimes it would be a lot, like from hamburger. Sometimes it might be only a tiny bit but she saved it all. She put every bit into a jar.
This is an example of the small bits of solid fat I’m talking about. You can find it on lots of different foods from roasts to soups. This happens to be the liquid (stock) poured off a ham and put into the refrigerator to use in cornmeal dressing the next day. There is about a teaspoon of solid fat on the top of the cold liquid.
Simply pick off these bits of solid fat with a spoon or a spatula and put it into a jar in the freezer. If you happen to get a little of the liquid or the meat along with the fat it’s ok. That will be removed later. It’s perfectly fine to mix different types of fat too. Save the fat from everything (no matter the type of meat)until you have a good size container of it. Here’s my jar of saved meat fat. I think my jar is full enough to work with. It has fat from hamburger, a beef pot roast, some homemade stew, a pork loin roast, baked chicken, and others. What it all comes down to is….. FAT. Grandma Mama called it grease and so do I.
This accumulation of fat can be used over and over again providing you wash it to get out the bits and pieces of food particles left in it. How do you wash it? Well, you put your saved fat into a pan with some water. About half grease and half water.
Now turn the heat on very low so it melts the fat. Be very careful and do not leave the stove. Fat and water don’t mix so it will start boiling and popping if the heat is too high. This can potentially cause a fire if you are not there to turn down the heat. I usually heat mine just until it starts to boil but is not popping. This is very, very low heat but it still boils. I keep it at this point for only about one minute then turn it off. We are not cooking we are simply separating.
I let this set until it cools then put the pan and all into the refrigerator to turn solid again. Oil and water don’t mix. The oil will float on top as it becomes solid again and the food particles will fall into the water below. After it’s cold again it will look like this.
Run a knife or something around the edge to loosen the solid fat and remove it from the pan. Turn it over and scrape any bits and pieces of food that might be attached to the bottom of the fat. At this point you can call it lard instead of grease.
I put it all into a clean pan with some clean water and do the boiling again. A second round of heating and cooling usually gets the last little bits of food from the lard; but if it doesn’t, then I do a third or even a fourth round. When the lard is clean and white it can be used for any type of cooking. Sometimes, when I have an abundance of lard, I put it in the freezer. It will last for many months in there. You see the little bits floating in the pot on the left? I rescue those too.
You worried about cholesterol? Yeah, me too. 😉 Truthfully, I really don’t use a lot of lard for my cooking. I don’t use any more than I would any other type of cooking oil. Most of my foods are baked or boiled so the lard is usually just for keeping the food from sticking to the pan. I prefer using my homemade lard because it cost me nothing and more importantly there are absolutely no chemicals in it. It’s completely natural. This batch will last me for many weeks while I’m saving little bits and pieces to be used for the next batch.