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I cooked some bacon about a week ago and left the grease in the pan. I've used it the last two nights with great success for cooking other meals.

How long is it safe to reuse? I figure since I'm heating it up to a million degrees each time I use it it's probably pretty safe, but.... I'd rather not get food poisoning.

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I don't know about leaving it just in the pan, they strain it and such - but Dyer's Burgers is still using grease from 1912 ;) dyersonbeale.com –  rfusca Sep 9 '11 at 4:40
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I don't plan on living for another 100 years so I think I'm set –  Abe Miessler Sep 9 '11 at 4:52
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Fat/oil will break down when overheated. If you are heating the oil to its smoking point, then it is too hot. If you want to keep this bacon grease for as long as possible, then strain it and don't overheat. Otherwise your food will taste like burnt oil, eww... –  Jake Robinson Sep 9 '11 at 13:16
    
+1 for @Jake Robinson's comment... While delicious, bacon grease will smoke pretty early on... Watch out! –  Rikon Sep 9 '11 at 14:18

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Is it safe? maybe. Is it recommended? No.

If you're going to save bacon grease (or other fats), I'd recommend:

  1. straining it
  2. putting it into a different container to minimize the surface area exposed to air
  3. keeping the container in the fridge.

Although, the first one, I admit I don't do -- as I'm not cooking bacon every day, I've generally used up my supply by the time I've got more ... so I fill a glass jar, and let solids settle to the bottom ... then just use the stuff off the top as I need it, until I get so far down the jar that I hit the darker strata, when I then dispose of the whole thing. (I recycle jars for this, then pitch the whole thing ... you don't want to go washing bacon grease down the drain, it does nasty things to your pipes)

...

If you're going to do what you are, you'll want to make sure that you hold the pan at 250°F (121°C) for at least three minutes, preferably longer, to kill off botulism spores, unless you're fond of that whole paralysis thing.

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You can also freeze it, which makes it much easier to work with (either as cubes, or chiselling it off when needed). –  Bruce Alderson Sep 9 '11 at 16:54

I reckon that as long as it doesn't start smelling bad (AKA goes rancid) , it's good.

In the olden days, people would store food by covering it with fat as a way of preserving when there was no refrigeration available.

And by the way, good for you for following the 3 Rs: reuse, recycle, and be a cheapskate.

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