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I've read that adding cork (from wine bottles) absorbs the fat. I'm not sure if this works or not.

Are there any other ways to remove excess fat without standing there and spooning out or refrigerating and then removing the solidified fat?

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Most of the answers are very good, so I won't add to them. But I will say that adding a wine cork is almost guaranteed to be a failure, apart from whatever fat just happens to stick to the outside. They are not absorbent (in any meaningful way). Indeed, that's why they are used to keep the wine in the bottle instead of soaking it up! Also, I recommend against putting anything in your soup that isn't a cooking utensil or food. But maybe that's just me. –  bikeboy389 Jun 15 '11 at 20:30

10 Answers 10

up vote 9 down vote accepted

If you want to be really lazy about it, just get yourself a fat separator. Pour in the soup, the fat will rise to the top, and you can do what you want with it (i.e. dump it).

If you're reading this in an emergency, you can do this with just a strainer. You'll get better results if you chill the strainer before each skim, i.e. by rinsing it with very cold water. The fat will tend to congeal on the cold strainer the same way it congeals when it's actually chilled.

I've also heard that the fat will cling to certain leafy vegetables, like lettuce. If you have a lettuce head kicking around, try peeling off a leaf and dusting the top of the pan with it.

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You can also drag a paper towel across the top, especially when the fat layer is very thin. –  Darin Sehnert Aug 4 '10 at 1:31
I am going to try the paper towel hope it works!! –  user22511 Jan 12 at 22:11

If you pour the liquid into a narrower vessel to settle, the fat layer on top will be thicker and therefore easier to remove with spoon, paper towel, or turkey baster. Something like this thermos or this ice tea jug would work without needing to cool it down too much.

It is best done before any thickening with starch/flour.

Since some spices are oil soluble, you might end up straining out some of the flavor, and need to re-adjust the spicing slightly.

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One quick way I have seen is to put a few ice cubes into your soup/stew. The fat will congeal around the ice cube so if you take them out before they melt you can get rid of most of your fat.

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If you don't want to water down your dish, if you have a metal ladle, put the ice in that, then skim the surface with the bowl -- the fat will congeal on the ladle –  Joe Nov 2 '13 at 21:06

Not to be contrarian, but the easiest way to do this would probably be to just drain off the fat before adding the liquid. For instance, if you sautee your veggies and brown your meat before adding the stock, you'd just pour off the grease in the pan before adding the stock. An ounce of prevention, etc...

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Well said, Captain Hindsight. :D –  Preston Fitzgerald Sep 22 at 3:55

So long as the liquid isn't being mixed (and bubbling from simmering or boiling counts as being mixed), it'll undergo what they call "type 1 settling", where oil floats to the top, and particulates fall to the bottom.

You can either let it stand in a gravy separator, or just let it come to the top of the pot, and either ue a paper towel, like Darin mentioned, a strainer like Aronut mentioned, or even a frozen bottle of water (which will chill the fat so it sticks to the bottle, where you ca wipe it off then try again).

Personally, I normally use the 'spooning' method, but use a laddle rather than a spoon, so it goes much faster.

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you could let it settle so the fat rests on the top then use a turkey baster or syringe to suck the fat off the top.

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I just tried this: Pour cooled stock through a strainer, lined with paper towels, filled with ice cubes. You may have to do it in batches, as it catches lot of fat. This is a shortcut.

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Everyone seems to recommend gravy strainers which have a spout at the bottom but any bottle with some form of spout should work if you just turn it upside down... oil will float to the top and you can pour gravy out of the bottom :-)

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I think that would make a huge mess. –  SAJ14SAJ Jun 2 '13 at 16:50

You can soak it up with slices of Bread. I just did it.

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Do you have a method for doing this? –  sourd'oh Oct 12 '13 at 17:50

Try a Grease Grabber. They are a special pad that only absorbs oil and repels all else. you just float it on top of your soup and it will absorb all the grease. Take a look at Greasegrabber.org.

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Seems like overkill given that you could just use bread or paper towels. –  Jefromi Nov 27 at 20:41

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