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I wanted to render the fat from some bacon to produce bacon grease. The usual advice that you see on the internet is to simply fry whole strips of bacon at a low heat, for a longer period, and the fat will melt away from the meat proper. That normally works for me.

The other day I wanted to try someting different. I have previously rendered other fats in different ways. I've tried a 'wet render', by simmering at a very low temperature in water. That worked well for lamb fat. And I tried a 'dry render' by putting the fat in the oven at a lowish temperature (gas mark 3 = 160C), which worked well for chicken skin.

I tried these methods with some bacon fat, that I had cut off from the meat of back bacon strips. So it was just 16 white strips of cold fat. But they didn't work. With the wet render, no matter how long I simmered for, the water didn't get more than a tiny bit oily. The dry render behaved similarly, except that it did give a tiny bit of fat, but nearly all of the fat was still whole, the bits hadn't reduced in size at all after I baked for about 5 hours.

Why didn't it work? At first I thought the temperature might be too high, but it's not like the bits were getting blackened or anything. And surely a higher temperature would also show signs of rendering the fat, it wouldn't just arrest the entire process.

  • Welcome to the site! The water getting a little bit oily sounds about right considering it was just a few small strips of fat. – GdD Jul 22 at 9:14
  • But wouldn't you expect nearly the entire strip to dissolve, given that it's entirely fat? I'm talking about white strips cut from the side of a strip of back bacon, no red visible. I'm under the impression that that piece is ~100% fat, but maybe that's wrong. – amoe Jul 22 at 9:42
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    Fry a piece of bacon and have a look. The fat doesn't disappear. – GdD Jul 22 at 9:43
  • Boiling and pressure cooking should both work. – user3528438 Jul 23 at 0:31
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Chop bacon finely...or even use a food processor. Place in a pot. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of pan and prevent initial sticking. Place on very low heat. You might even need a heat diffuser. You don't want frying, just low, gentle heat. Too much heat produces off flavors. It might take a few hours. You will have rendered fat, but also the cracklings (the stuff that doesn't render). Strain. Use both the fat and the cracklings. Really, it's the same process for rendering beef, pork, duck...any type of fat rendering.

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  • I like your answer, moscafj! But I saw this question show up on HNQ and while I'm a cooking enthusiast (obviously very amateur!) the mention of a "heat diffuser" required me to hit Google. I wonder if an elaboration on that point might be useful to future neophytes like me? :) – Kirk Woll Jul 22 at 20:42
  • I think the OP said that they already tried this, and it didn't work? – nick012000 Jul 22 at 22:50
  • @KirkWoll fair point...a heat diffuser raises the cooking vessel above the flame so that the heat is less intense. It might be unnecessary if you have a summer burner, but, if you don't it can come in handy. – moscafj Jul 22 at 23:01
  • @nick012000 the OP accepted the answer, so I assume he/she found it useful. – moscafj Jul 22 at 23:02
  • @KirkWoll ...simmer...not summer...:-) – moscafj Jul 22 at 23:14
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Put it in a zip loc or better yet a vacuum sealed bag and simmer at 155 for a few hours. Sous vide is best.

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From where I come from, we usually chop bacon finely, not mince or grind in a food processor (that process is used by industrial facilities, and the fat obtained is okay, but there are no true, chunky cracklings, which is a pity). Moscafj gave good advice, follow his instructions. Also, you can slightly salt the bacon and stir frequently when it starts melting. A peeled onion (cut in half, if very large) and added to bacon when it starts melting adds to the taste. You discard the onion when you drain the fat.

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