ALL THE...oh nevermind. Bacon.
January 22, 2012 8:15 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to store my fats?

I live in a normal city apartment with a regular refrigerator and electric stove. However, I would like to start keeping various fats around for cooking in convenient and functional containers. Oils, bacon fat, duck fat, fats I've never heard of, liquid and solid. These things should be well washable, though I suppose it may be necessary to get some bottle brushes and such.

In the past I have used a coffee cup with saran wrap in the fridge to keep bacon fat, but it feels a bit bachelor-y and I'd like to have something a little more, I don't know, purpose-built? My oils stay in the containers they were purchased, and it would be nice to be able to buy larger quantities while still being able to keep them out on the counter, say.
posted by rhizome to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've been told that fats should not be stored in transparent containers because they will go rancid if they are.
posted by dfriedman at 8:16 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

mason jars? they come in a variety of sizes.
posted by sabh at 8:18 PM on January 22, 2012

on second thought, they're transparent... so maybe you can find a bunch of ceramic jars!
posted by sabh at 8:19 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can't you freeze fat? At pubs in England it's not unknown to get dripping on toast for breakfast, which is toast with a sliced-off bit of frozen dripping from the Sunday lunch roast or whatever. I think you can freeze the stuff in just about any container at all. Freeze it! Go go go!
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:24 PM on January 22, 2012

I keep animals fats in the freezer in whatever size plastic container makes sense. Oils I keep in random empty wine bottles with a cork stopper in the top.
posted by foodgeek at 8:25 PM on January 22, 2012

posted by trip and a half at 8:25 PM on January 22, 2012

If you eat yogurt, buy it in containers with plastic lids, rather than the single-serving foil-topped containers, and save those to save fats in. Same for sour cream, cream cheese, whipped butter, margarine, and anything else that comes in that kind of plastic container. Or just buy some deli containers at a place like Smart & Final.

If you want airtight containers, mason jars will do just fine in the fridge for a short period of time, or in the freezer for quite a while. Bury them in the back of the freezer if you want to avoid light.
posted by WasabiFlux at 8:39 PM on January 22, 2012

Short term mason jars in the fridge. Long term Mason jars in the freezer.

We have actually phased out 95% of all out plastic storage containers in favor of mason jars. They work very well for a majority of things.
posted by edgeways at 8:42 PM on January 22, 2012

Rancidity is oxidation. Keeping the air out will do more than keeping indoor light out.
posted by gjc at 8:42 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I use small stainless steel thali bowls (like these), covered with Glad Press 'N Seal plastic wrap, to store my bacon and duck fats. I also strain bacon fat if it has any tidbits in it. I've never had animal fats go rancid on me, but that's because I keep them refrigerated and I generally use them all up before they have any chance of going bad.
posted by Betty's Table at 9:09 PM on January 22, 2012

Warning: cats like fats.

This one time I made my own ghee, and my kittens found the plastic container I stored it in. The thing had fang marks all over the top, like tiny vampires had been at it.

So, if you have cats, don't use just a plastic container.
posted by amtho at 9:09 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Freezer or fridge. In glass or ceramic. Plastic is OK if the fat is cooled before putting in plastic.

I think you would find my freezer a Wonderland of rendered animal fats and interesting herb compound butters. I make one from the flowers and fronds of Society Garlic plus Parsley that has a pleasing back-end note of Truffle from the Society Garlic. I use it as a nub of buttery goodness to melt inside burgers.
posted by jbenben at 9:43 PM on January 22, 2012

Short term mason jars in the fridge. Long term Mason jars in the freezer.

Mason jars in the freezer are bad news. They get super brittle when they're frozen and it sucks to be picking bits of broken glass out of the back of your freezer.
posted by foodgeek at 9:43 PM on January 22, 2012

YMMV, but the only trouble I've had with canning jars in the freezer is when I overfill them and the freezing liquid expands and breaks them. I use them all the time for stocks, jams, dried milk, felafel mix, yeast, etc., etc. (in other words, everything).
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:51 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I've had one jar break in the freezer in 15 years. Jars without shoulders are much better btw.
posted by edgeways at 9:56 PM on January 22, 2012

And I would definitely use canning jars for your solid fat storage; I would just write the type of fat on the lid with a grease pencil or Sharpie. For liquid fats, I would use the tall bottles with the booze pour-spouts on them; those spouts are super-handy for controlling the flow of oil. I love the idea of using yogurt containers, but in my experience, all it does is lead to confusion--you can't find what you're looking for, you have to open all your yogurt to find it, you don't buy yogurt because you think you've got loads of it, etc.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:58 PM on January 22, 2012

Rancidity is a case of oxidation - it might be light catalyzed but inside your refrigerator, that is not going to matter much, plus, keeping them cold will slow the reaction down even more. Lipids should not expand the way water does on freezing, so that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:12 PM on January 22, 2012

I'd use glass rubbermaid containers in the fridge. You can buy them at any large supermarket, or certainly any Target-style box store. Should make scooping a little easier than from the freezer; plus the freezer sometimes makes stuff smell like Freezer.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:09 PM on January 22, 2012

How about for saving and reusing oil from deep frying? I try to use it three or four times over a week or so, before it turns, but it's messy. Maybe I could use a Bodum French Press as a filtered carafe that also has a wide mouth? A Pyrex fiiltered carafe (of some invention), for temperature tolerance, would be ideal. In fact, I see some possibilities in Pyrex Carafes for coffee and etc. Get some big corks and a load of Sanka bottles, up to a 2qt lemonade thingy.
posted by rhizome at 1:48 AM on January 23, 2012

In the past I have used a coffee cup with saran wrap in the fridge to keep bacon fat, but it feels a bit bachelor-y

My parents have done this for forty years. They don't even bother with the Saran Wrap. I don't either, when I'm saving bacon fat--I use it pretty quickly. Anything other solid fat I store in the freezer in a labeled jar, except butter, which lives on the counter.

For used cooking grease, I store it in an old pasta sauce jar in the refrigerator and use it a tablespoon or two at a time replace regular oil when sautéing. If I use it for deep frying again, I'll use it two or three times and then it gets the heave-ho, still within its jar.

Even the pretty items that I use to store liquid fat (olive oil and canola oil carafes by the stove) rarely look very pretty, because they get kitchen grease mist on them and then get washed in between fillings, so they don't have much time to look nice.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:09 AM on January 23, 2012

We decant vegetable oils from larger tins into smaller glass bottles and use the plastic pour spouts used for dispensing liquor or salad dressing. You might expect some oxidation / rancidity because the spouts don't completely seal, but we use the oil in those smaller jars fast enough that it doesn't seem to matter.

For bacon grease, I salvaged a tin can that had been opened with a Kuhn Rikon smooth-edge can opener. When you open a can using this type of opener, the freed lid stays flat and sits neatly on the can instead of falling inside, so it remains useful as a lid. Using a can means I can pour in hot grease without fear of shattering anything.
posted by jon1270 at 4:12 AM on January 23, 2012

Next time you go to a wholesale restaurant supply store* (Sysco, GFS) check out bain-marie (round, not square) pans in stainless steel. They have straight vertical sides and no shoulders, so they are easy to fill and easy to clean. The best part is you can take them straight from the fridge and set them on a burner without messing up another pan in the process. After you use the fat, you cool it and put it right back in the fridge or freezer. Lids are available either in fitted stainless steel, or plastic snap-ons. You can write on them with china marker for ID.

They come in sizes from 8 ounces to 7-1//8 quarts, so there should be something that fits your home fridge. You can also find a filter clip that sits on top and holds a coffee-style filter to strain your deep fryer oil.

Smaller sizes about five bucks, largest sizes about twenty. Last three lifetimes. Totally, completely NSF-rated food safe. Will impress your friends when they snoop in your fridge.

*You do not have to be a restaurant to shop here. Case pricing is available if you really like a certain size.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:08 AM on January 23, 2012

Here's an old comment I wrote a while ago about saving oil:

I do filter my oil through coffee filters to reduce the amount that it smokes when I reuse it. If you get the #2 filters, they fit pretty well in a funnel, and then you can just pour some oil in there and let it drip through. When the filter gets a bit gunky, I put in a new one so that the oil filters faster. And I do the whole process in the sink, because I invariably spill a little oil somewhere and I'd rather spill it in the sink than anywhere else. At the end, I put the cap back on the oil bottle and wash the outside with hot water.

Also, the rule I've always heard is that you should mix used oil half and half with fresh to reduce smoking and I've found that to be very helpful.

(I'd add to this that I've never had deep-frying oil (canola) go rancid on me when stored in the cupboard, and I probably deep fry 2 or 3 times a year. I would imagine filtering like I describe here helps it stay fresher.)
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:52 AM on January 23, 2012

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