Silly bacon question

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Before the days of paper bags and paper towels…

what did cooks do to drain / blot their bacon after frying it?

Do you always use a paper product when you do this in your kitchen?


posted May 4th, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Am I missing something about what you’re trying to do to your bacon? You’re trying to take the grease/juice off, yes?
Why would you do this in the first place? Bacon is amazing, and most of the taste is in the fat. I mean, if anything, just shake it a bit. Who really wants dry bacon?

I mean, if anything, I save that bacon fat/juice for making eggs with, or… anything with!

Also, paper bags? Why would you do that?

Paper bags are absorbent to a point.

85% of recipes include a phrasing similar to:
“In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, until crispy. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.”

When bacon is used as a component to be added back into a meal (like a salad) it’s usually cooked separately and “drained”.

I see saving the bacon fat from the pan as a separate issue from what do you place your bacon on to drain.


- Felix
posted May 4th, 2008 at 3:25 pm

I think back in the days before paper towels were invented people were working too hard to worry about getting fat.

Besides, the fat is where the flavor is.

My mom and grandmother used to keep a tin of bacon fat by the stove and used it in all the food they cooked.

posted May 4th, 2008 at 3:26 pm

just to be clear though, I use paper towels to get rid of the bacon fat

posted May 4th, 2008 at 3:40 pm

I grew up with placing a piece of aluminum foil in a small bowl and pouring the bacon fat off into that. Once solidified, we would pull the fat/foil out and put it in the trash.

posted May 4th, 2008 at 6:19 pm

If you bake your bacon, a la Alton Brown, you don’t need to blot it at all. It’s the only way we do it around here.

- Mary
posted May 4th, 2008 at 11:06 pm

hehehe i have a very dirty trick (aka the way to get fat quickly) i place the bacon on a slice or two bread then i toast that in the toster oven with some cheese

- MintWrecker
posted May 4th, 2008 at 11:49 pm

I drain as much as possible back into the pan to reuse. If I still want to blot some off the bacon, I use a cloth. I have some cloths the sole purpose of which is draining fried foods on . They aren’t pretty but they are effective. Besides, it’s pretty rare I fry anything anyway .

- Dani
posted May 5th, 2008 at 5:53 am

I don’t buy paper kitchen products or get paper towels, and rarely (boo hoo) cook bacon, but when I do, I drain it on cloth — like the previous replier. I do buy a tall stack of absorbent bar towels about once a year and use those for this and other messy, staining tasks, trying to preserve my “tea towels.” I remember my grandmother draining bacon on a piece of bread.

posted May 5th, 2008 at 6:04 am

I think I recall brown paper. But the fat was not such
an issue then. The bacon may have been place directly on a slice of bread. We had a friend who would give us a hind of home cured bacon and we could never resist having a taste for supper when we got home.
My favourite is still bone marrow. But even the bones do not seem to be as fat or have as much marrow as they used to have. I loved to salt and pepper it and set it in the fridge and have it on bread or dry biscuits.

- Jane
posted May 5th, 2008 at 7:29 am

I bake mine like another person suggested. It doesn’t usually come out covered in grease. I know what you’re getting to in this post, though, and I am TERRIBLE with paper towels. I’m sure when I don’t have to pay for laundry I’ll stop using them.

- Katez0r
posted May 5th, 2008 at 9:09 am

My Panamanian mom used (and still uses) newspaper to drain oil from what she’s cooking. We fried a lot of plantains in veggie oil and that’s what we used. Saturday night, I used a paper bag.

- Karol
posted May 5th, 2008 at 11:54 am

i neither drain my bacon nor pat my raw chicken dry (why do recipes say to do that?). my problem is my cast iron pan. when i stopped buying paper towels, i had no problem switching over all my mop-up and drying tasks to dish towels or cut up old t-shirts, which i launder each week. but wiping dry a just-scrubbed cast iron pan leaves a oily black residue on the cloth that i don’t care for. i used to use paper towels for that task (and for a light oiling after the drying) and then toss it. i still haven’t found a good alternative. i’m oiling with my fingers, but the drying is still just…meh.

posted May 5th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

i should clarify: i do not drain my bacon on anything absorbent. i *do* lay it on a plate with a cookie cooling rack on it if i need to. though mostly i just shake it a bit with my tongs and move on. it’s bacon. that’s about as bad as it gets. a few more drops of grease can hardly make it worse.

couple of related questions for the audience:

1) how long can meat greases and lightly used frying oils keep in an un-airconditioned kitchen? my grandmothers always kept theirs, but frankly i’m afraid of them going rancid, as i don’t use them very often.

2) i’m at a loss for what kind of container to put my grease-to-throw-away in, especially if i have a potful from a random frying. everything i have on hand is recyclable, and i can’t stand to put something recyclable in the trash. ideas?

posted May 5th, 2008 at 12:10 pm

We put all of our greasy fat in cleaned out cans or mayonnaise jars and keep it in the refrigerator.
When I have meat grease to throw away I take the can out and pour it in, when it gets full I throw away the can/or jar.

I have thought about using this for “suet” in the winter for the birds but haven’t gotten it to come out right. It is always too soft.

- Jessica
posted May 5th, 2008 at 1:37 pm

thanks everyone- there are great suggestions and ideas in here.

posted May 5th, 2008 at 1:47 pm

I usually just drain my bacon on a single sheet of paper towel folded over, or set it on a paper plate. Yes, I know they are wasteful–but I have limited space and it’s a sanitary option many times for a cutting board or other messy kitchen tasks. As far as I know–bacon or other meat grease seems to keep fairly well. I had an unairconditioned house in Oklahoma and it was always hot. The grease always seemed okay. My MIL and Grandmother did the same thing. You could always keep it in the fridge if it looks runny from the heat. This grease is great for frying potatoes or adding flavor to green beans. For waste grease I keep a bottle and funnel under the sink to pour it in. When it gets full I through it away. Juice bottles are a good size. If you have a bug problem you might want to keep a lid on it all the time.

- Ruth
posted May 5th, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I’ve heard that if you carefully drip excess fat from fried things, then put them on a baking rack, they’ll stay crisper. Of course, what would you put under the baking rack?

As for storage, why bother keeping it out? We freeze our leftover bacon fat and use it directly out of the freezer.

posted May 5th, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Lindsey – when you are done with your cast iron rinsing and getting any crap out in the sink – dry in in the oven with a light layer of oil.

- Karol
posted May 5th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

I would assume it was all one pan cooking, so the began grease was used to make the eggs not stick or the cornbread tastier…or poured off for fried chicken.

I once heard you can use newspaper to soak up bacon grease, but I worry about the ink.

posted May 5th, 2008 at 3:47 pm

I cook my bacon in the oven, on a rack over a sheetpan.
Then I eat it and I’m happy.

The bacon fat can be kept or not. If I’m really lazy, I line the sheetpan with foil then I don’t have to clean it much, just let it cool and lift off the foil.

- Mary Kay
posted May 5th, 2008 at 4:37 pm

I use cloth towels for patting off bacon too – the flat-woven kind, rather than waffle or terry, seems to work best.

Another cast-iron skillet trick is to just dry it on the cooktop. A high gas flame will dry a pan in just a minute or so.

- Erica
posted May 6th, 2008 at 6:19 am

I’ve taken to baking it, but if I cook it in a skillet I toss it on drying racks.

Reserve that bacon grease, nothing says yummy like using that in moderation for frying and sauteing.

posted May 6th, 2008 at 7:33 am

Where I work, we bake it in the oven on sheet pans, then transfer the bacon over to a bread-lined third pan while saving the extra grease for our black beans! Mmmmmm…. tastiness all around.

- John B
posted May 6th, 2008 at 6:37 pm

Seriously,the last thing people would do back in the day is wipe the fat off their bacon! They (we) would just pour off as much of the fat as we could from the pan (usually into an empty tin can,so it could be used for cooking) and then enjoy in blissful ignorance of the dangers of cholesterol and saturated fats!

posted May 6th, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Huh. Interesting question. Never thought about it in terms of using less paper products, but then again, I’m still a work in progress when it comes to kicking the paper towel habit. That being said, I don’t use them when it comes to bacon. I put the bacon on wire cookie racks, which are then placed onto a cookie tray and baked in the oven. Nice and crispy every time, without the need to blot, making bacon even just a tad more … healthier.

posted May 7th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

I use a small inverted glass placed in the middle of a small plate, not the best method but it works. The bacon hangs over the glass and the grease drips on the plate, then I have to scrape it all into a jar reserved for bacon fat. Which I keep in the fridge, though I seem to recall that my mother kept hers in a can right by the stove…

- Sarah
posted May 9th, 2008 at 2:01 am

the idea of draining bacon slices on bread is genius to me.

And then panfrying and eating that bread!
That’s heaven!


- erica
posted May 16th, 2008 at 7:11 am

I think my grandmother used to lay it out on a cooling rack to drain any excess. mmm…. bacon!

- dot
posted May 21st, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Your grandmother always had a can (a used-up Crisco can; how fitting!) that we drained the fat/grease into. And that was used for frying anything that needed to be crisped into submission.

- Dad-o-Matic
posted May 28th, 2008 at 9:28 pm

I just cook the bacon just right, then I tip my pan at an angle and let it drain that way. Just enough grease drains off. Sometimes I use a cooling rack so the grease drips through, but only when I’m cooking more than 1 pound at a time.

- Bean

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