November 19, 2007

How to Clean 3: Cooking Grease

Apparently, lots of folk are flummoxed by the grease that's left after frying or roasting or broiling or whatever ... so much so, that here in San Antonio, the water company has posted billboards and notices asking that grease not be poured down pipes. I'm guessing lots of folks were never taught how to deal with the messy stuff.

Grease isn't that hard to deal with -- here's a couple of tips:

1. Pour the hot grease into leftover metal cans (think coffee cans or tin cans) or milk cartons. Let it cool, and toss. Used coffee cans are good, because they have plastic lids. You can fill these over time, storing the sealed can under the sink, and when the can is full, you toss it. No, there's not a bad smell. Put it in the fridge or freezer if you're really worried about a stench.

2. If the pan has sat around so the grease (e.g., fat) is not in liquid form any longer, the easiest thing to do is put the pan in the oven at 250 until it becomes liquid again, and do the pour thing.

You want to avoid getting grease into the sink, or the pipes -- and it's much easier to deal with the grease as a liquid than in its gel form.

3. Now, bacon grease is different. It's special. Keep it separate and make sure your container has a lid. When I was little, my mother would store bacon fat left over from breakfast on the stove top, because she used it as a flavoring -- she would fry onions and garlic in the bacon fat as a basis for lots of things, to fry potatoes, pinto beans, beef tips, even green beans. She'd use it to make cornbread. She'd make a roux with it for gravy, put a tad of it in mashed potatoes, well - you get the idea.

For a nice trip down Bacon Grease Lane, check out this list of comments at

FYI, did you know that in WWII, housewives were asked to save their cooking grease and turn it in to their local grocery stores, where it was collected to be used in making explosives?