Anyone who pays attention to what they pay for food knows prices have been increasing. The lockdowns and rules related to Covid have caused massive disruptions in the supply chain. Also, the Biden Administration, like others before it, will do anything that puts major Big Ag corporations ahead of small farmers, leaving us to pay the higher prices for less than stellar food.
And one thing that is about to absolutely skyrocket is cooking oil.
Did you know food production itself is under attack?
What may not be evident to the average consumer is food production itself has been under attack in various ways. Legislation is in the works that will make things incredibly difficult for meat producers. The Colorado PAUSE Act (Initiative 16), one of the strangest pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen, will require animal producers to let their animals live to at least 25% of their natural life span before slaughter.
As a poultry producer myself, I would have to let my birds live for two years before butchering. Have you ever eaten a two-year-old chicken? They are delicious in soup but far too tough to roast. And the cost will be astronomical due to the amount of feed. Proponents of the bill say that it is simply trying to make animal husbandry more humane. The truth is that it will become economically unfeasible to produce meat in Colorado.
It’s more important than ever to gain control of your food and financial sources
As Daisy says, the food powers that be are not trying to sustain natural resources, but their control. We need to do what we can to keep as much control over our kitchens, food sources, and finances as possible. We also need to make sure we are using the food we do have in the most efficient way possible.
Cooking oil specifically is about to become quite a bit more expensive due to green energy policies. To put it simply, using renewable energy sources means using vegetable oil to make biodiesels and other “clean” fuels. So we’ll be burning substances we could be eating, driving up prices even more. Unfortunately, we have only a minimal amount of control over what goes on in Washington regarding green energy.
Cooking oil sources are worth taking a closer look
Sources of cooking oil, specifically animal fats, are often wasted. These days, household thrift is becoming more important than ever. I have rendered and saved fat from pigs, cows, goats, and lamb. When I lived in Texas, I shopped at Food Town. Food Town regularly has chunks of pig fat wrapped up in the meat department. I took it home to render it myself. It’s not complicated, but it takes a long time.
Rendering consists of cutting the meat into small pieces, adding a little water to the pan to avoid sticking at first, and melting over a very low temperature. I have always used cast iron because it heats evenly. Once everything melts (usually 8 to 10 hours later), pour the liquid through a coffee filter to get out solids and let it cool. The solids, also called cracklings from beef or pork, are delicious either by themselves or tossed into a soup.
What if I don’t raise my own meat or have a neighbor to buy it from?
I buy meat from the store very rarely these days. We either raise our meat ourselves or buy it from friends. However, that is not realistic for most people, and if you live in an urban or suburban setting, the next best thing to do is to buy a half or quarter of a cow at a time. You could get a pig, goat, or lamb, as well, but beef is usually the cheapest.
Most people on this web page understand the importance of having food saved up. However, as time goes on, I genuinely believe it will be more important than ever for city dwellers to have personal relationships with local food suppliers. Websites like eatWILD can point you toward organic and specialty providers in your area. You can also find a custom meat processor in your area and ask about purchasing a side of beef. If you are not getting specialty meat, it is usually an excellent deal.
It took me some time to learn of the various cuts of meat in each animal. Many cuts of meat have quite a bit of fat on them. You can cut those off and render as needed. If you buy a pig, you can ask the butcher to separate the leaf lard. The leaf lard is the snowy lard suitable for pastries, and it only comes from a specific part of the pig. However, any fat can be rendered and used.
Here are a few tips to help you render and use fat for cooking
Fat from cows, goats, and sheep is called tallow and is a much stronger flavor. I have used tallow from beef to cut into pastries for meat pies because the flavors go well together. The tallow from goats and sheep has such a strong flavor it tends to overpower other foods. However, it is still suitable for browning meat or for greasing pans when cooking something savory. Filtered lard or tallow will keep for a month or so in the fridge (depending on how well you filtered it). Otherwise, you can freeze it.
This is not gourmet cooking oil, but it’s a good substitute for things like canola oil or Crisco. You know, the cheap oils that are about to become not-so-cheap. (Aka, the foods that we’re used to taking for granted.) Here are some pictures of fat I rendered from one of my lambs. In the first two images, you can see it’s quite brown and hard, even at room temperature. The third image shows how I filter it. I simply put a coffee filter on the jar with a screw band and slowly pour it in. It can get a little messy, but it works pretty well. This tallow has kept in my fridge for nearly two months because the filter removed most of the impurities.
If you cook a fatty roast, you can let the liquid cool, remove some of the fat, melt the fat by itself, and then filter. This fat doesn’t last very long in the fridge, but it is suitable for browning meat or vegetables. It also makes a nutritious snack for dogs and chickens.
You can use fat in all kinds of things. For those who work outside in cold weather, fat is an essential part of our diet. As William Cobbett said in his self-sufficiency classic Cottage Economy, “your flitches of bacon. . . will do ten thousand times more than any Methodist parson. . . to make you happy, not only in this world but in the world to come.”
Are you doing what you can to become more self-sufficient when it comes to food?
I genuinely believe that producing your own food is becoming more important than ever. But we also need to use wisely what we already have. Check out this article on using the entire animal for more ideas.
What have you done to level up your food production? Do you have any tips to share on using certain food items that often go to waste? Is there anything you’d like to learn how to do that will help you become more self-sufficient? Let us know in the comments below!
About Joanna Miller
Joanna has been homeschooling three children since 2012. In 2014, she moved to the High Plains of Colorado. She and her children began a little homestead, gardening and raising chickens for eggs and meat. One animal led to another, and these days they have livestock guardian dogs, chickens, geese, ducks, alpacas, goats, pigs, and one very spoiled cat.
Can you comment on how filtered fats from frying bacon compares with what you’ve described here?
In the past, I have used either large coffee filters, or heavy duty paper towels in a strainer. Pour in carefully, let sit and gravity do the work.
If there are a lot of particulates, sometimes stirring the remaining fat gets it going again.
If you’re filtering bacon fat, there’s something wrong. I wasn’t born in the South, but spent much of my life there and no one that I know filters bacon fat. Just pour it hot into a container and stick it in the fridge. Use it in dabs and dollops for frying, seasoning beans and many other ways that need bacon flavoring.
Bacon fat has a pretty strong flavor that comes through when used, and filtering out the bits of solids won’t make that go away. Enjoy the ‘bacon bits’.
Absolutely! I love bacon fat on green beans! Fried potatoes made with bacon grease and bits are just the best. I wasn’t raised down south, but my family has never filtered their bacon grease either.
I don’t filter bacon drippings at all! They go into a glass jar and mostly sit on my counter top by my stove ready to use! I use them all the time along to fry potatoes or eggs. Those little bits taste fantastic. Just use your nose to smell any fat before you eat it. Rancid stuff has an ugly smell and should be pitched. Can’t say I have ever had any saturated fat go bad on me.
Whenever we have a hog processed, the fat is rendered and I get back right around 2 gallons of beautiful lard to use. I also buy coconut oil to cook with and use in other ways. Vegetable oils when by the by many years ago. Nasty stuff!
Just my 2 cents worth 🙂
I, too, use coconut oil. I don’t have bacon that often, but when I do, I save the grease and bits in a bowl to use as “needed” (it’s nearly always needed for savory foods). I had a five-gallon container of lard that I used forever, and it never went bad. And you’re right, rancid oil is really ugly smelling.
pbmax, I’ve never filtered bacon fat for the same reasons everyone else is describing. It’s just delicious and never lasts long enough to go bad at my house 🙂 I fry eggs in it, saute vegetables in it whether they’ll be cooked alone or as the base for a soup. . . it’s delicious as is, with all the tasty little bacon bits in it.
We like the “cracklin’s”. There isn’t even a need to refrigerate. I keep my in a pint sized enamelware bucket with a lid by the stove.
My first mother-in-law came from Texas. She said one of the most prized gifts for newlyweds was a crock full of bacon grease. In those days, newlyweds could not afford to buy bacon do those gifted “drippings” were a very welcome gift. Everything was fried in bacon grease and often used instead of butter (a big dollop in your pan of green beans for example). When I married her son in the early 80’s, she still had her crock of bacon grease beside her stove.
I’ve rendered fat from deer and antelope. It left some to be desired but even if you don’t use it to cook it does good at candles.
I used cheesecloth from deer hanging bags to filter it.
Ive also found that venison tallow is the absolute best for oiling my cast iron pans and i’ve tried alot of oils/fats
I’m guessing that kolorado bill is part of the larger plan from Bill Gates to push everyone away from meat.
I do not know if it is a push by Gates or not, but if that passes, I would imagine a lot of CO residents will re-discover the need for raising their own small livestock.
Be nice to see if CO residents can raise small livestock in city limits.
I notified the one kolorado resident I know. He’s a democrat and isn’t happy lol.
I guess we will see if he contacts his congressman or not.
Matt that wouldn’t surprise me. Bill Gates has had an unhealthy interest in CO for years. He dumped tens of millions into our election in 2013, trying to change the way our state income taxes work. It’s bizarre, he’s not a resident. But we also have a lot of radical animal rights activists here too, so it can be hard to pick one villain.
There are some substitutes worth knowing about. Peanut oil is really helpful in making supremely delicious brown rice. Coconut oil helps make terrific scrambled eggs, etc. Then there is steaming which doesn’t need any kind of cooking oil. I found some of the best cookbooks on steaming techniques from the French and the Chinese.
As an aside, in desperate circumstances where dirty water is all you have (or can manage to carry) … if you let any VOCs (volatile organic compounds) boil off first (just like any competent water distiller person knows) the water that’s left is perfectly usable as a source for steam cooking which doesn’t need cooking oil.
steaming is good for removing any residual surface pesticides too.
From Colorado here, that initiative 16 is designed to destroy our ranching industry and will also take out many of our family farms which grow crops to support the cattle industry. It is a sneaky bill that can confuse people with thinking they are voting to be against animal cruelty with its terms of sexual abuse. What it really means is that ranchers and farmers won’t be able to use artificial insemination which is an acceptable animal husbandry practice, plus other normal practices. That’s in addition to changing the law for years prior to harvest.
Many years ago I was a meat cutter for five years with Safeway. I also used to take the very clean kidney fat (called Suet) and render it out, it made our bread much more savory as well as breakfast eggs cook in a pan oiled with it. Keep it in refrigerator covered and it will last far longer than he states in the article, because in the frig it won’t go rancid for a very long time. Of course you’ll like it so much it won’t last long. It actually taste better than butter if you like the flavor of beef products.
In many butchering/homesteading books, that wondrous fat over the kidneys is called “leaf fat,” and it is the best fat of all!
We save sheep/goat/cow fat for tallow, and sheep fat is so dense that it is also an acceptable substitute for greasing axles on carts.
Chicken fat is a beautiful thing. Render the fat down, throw in some diced onion, eat the gribenes (fried onion and cracklings), and save the lovely onion flavored schmaltz for schmear.
One of the childhood memories that sticks with me to this day is the old coffee can full of bacon drippings that lived at the back of the stove and supplied much of the fat that made other things extra tasty.
The easiest way I’ve found to render fat is by using a crockpot on Low. You don’t have the problems with it scorching or burning, and you don’t have to watch it. I use a ladle to scoop off the top oil before filtering it directly into wide-mouth pint jars. Add a lid and ring and it will seal itself up (if it’s still very hot when it goes in the jar). Super easy. I do recommend placing the crockpot outdoors if you can, as some people dislike the smell… but it works fine either way.
We’ve tried pork, chicken, beef, deer, and bison fat. The pork and chicken win the taste-test hands down. 🙂
Cleaned and filtered tallow, lard, and bacon fat can be used to make a superior bar of soap. Making soap is not difficult and the resulting bars are better for your skin than the synthetic detergent bars you purchase at the supermarket. They last forever and make a great barter item.
“Proponents of the bill say that it is simply trying to make animal husbandry more humane. The truth is that it will become economically unfeasible to produce meat in Colorado.”
well surely both statements are true.
“Do you have any tips to share on using certain food items that often go to waste?”
yanked out half a ton of lambsquaters from my garden as weeds, before I found out they are edible. pay attention to what grows naturally in your area and your gardening might be easier.
Too funny! There are a bunch of “weeds” that are edible and loaded with nutrients.
Purslane, dandelions, the aforementioned lambs quarters. Even sour dock and stinging nettles!
Great advice ant7 🙂
I actually planted purslane in my garden because we didn’t have any growing around us. I love it and it has Omega 3’s in it. So good for you. There is a website called eat the weeds (And a book-excellent!) and many other books and webpages to learn more about foraging. I love to eat dandelion in the spring.
Could someone recommend PLANT FORAGING books WITH PHOTOS? The “Eat The Weeds” book has great info, but no photos for identification. THANKS
“more important than ever for city dwellers to have personal relationships with local food suppliers”
find ’em and support ’em now, while they can still develop. also if they see you as a friend and loyal customer now this may help you out later.
One thing I would like to work on in getting more self reliant is learning how to keep items, such as insulin, cold/cool in a situation where there is no electricity for a longer period of time. Any advice?
Look into making a zeer pot. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pot-in-pot_refrigerator
I have one of these. Black oil sunflower seeds make good oil. Tractor supply sell 50lb bags or you can grow your own.
I render and clean fat by simmering it with water (you don’t need a lot of water, just a cup or so, and you don’t want a rolling boil) for several minutes, then letting the pan cool to nearly room temperature before putting it in the fridge overnight — the fat rises to the top and is nice & solid, so it’s easy to remove it from the water (which is underneath), and all the impurities are left in the water at the bottom of the container. You can keep it in the freezer indefinitely, or the fridge for easily a year or longer.
I have a quart jar of rendered bacon fat in my fridge right now. Normally I wouldn’t bother rendering bacon fat, since (as others have remarked) it lasts a long while without rendering, but I cooked up a few pounds of bacon at once and wanted to make sure the fat would stay edible longer.
Something nobody tells you. The rendering process smells terrible. The lard (the end product) doesn’t smell terrible. And if you start with store-bought lard (with which to make pie crust or soap) you may never know this primitive truth. But the slow-cooking, rendering process of making lard from animal fat smells Terrible. Just be forewarned. My mother, raised as a farm girl, customarily rendered lard from home-butchered pigs. I knew when I stepped off the school bus what was happening inside the house . . .
I use one of these. https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Vegetable-Oil workers well i use sunflower seeds in it.
I’ve rendered fats before. Good eating but yes slow. Even rabbits that are notiuiouse for being low fat have 2 straps of fat on the hid along the sides of the back. Those can be scrapped and rendered. It’s good for browning meats to go in stews. boiling the skins of any birds will give you soft fats that are good for cooking with. I canned a turkey last year in pint jars. I’d boiled the skins and bones for broth and fats. You can see the visible fat about 1/4 of each pint. They are sealed. And c will keep for longer and the bone broth is good for seasoning with.
I’d be interested in seeing if boiling sunflower seeds or other oily seeds might give us a usable oil for cooking.
Anyone here tried it yet?
my understanding is that the yield is too low to be useful. 1000 acre industrial farms can do it economically, but it’s not something you can do in the kitchen from a backyard.
Food self sufficiency:
if you live in an area that does not get Hard Freezes,
Look into the Moringa tree, I call them my food trees.
AKA: Miracle tree, drumstick tree, Tree of Life……
“The most nutritious land plant known” and delicious.
they grow easily from seed or cutting, do well in drought conditions.
the more I learn, the more impressed I am.
We use the leaves in many recipes,
excess leaves can be shade dried, the dried powder is a “Super Supplement”
with a long shelf life….
look it up..
I’ve started making my own bacon and saving the lard. Working at a farm has its benefits.
brussel sprouts lightly steamed then cut in half and sauteed in bacon fat – heaven on earth!
I remember my seventh-grade history telling us about his family eating lard sandwiches. That was long, long ago. I wonder if anyone still eats those?
You can press your own oil from nuts and seeds as well. See the piteba oil press. I’ve used one to make sunflower oil using the black oil sunflowers – yes, the bird seed. It works great. Definitely worth considering especially if you don’t have access to animals, or want to avoid using animals in the first place.
I get beef fat, cubed, and slow cook it over very low flames. Until no more water vapor comes off. Pull out all the solid parts, they’re like chicharron, not quite as sweet as pork, but acceptable. I find pork gives me boils… I use a fine strainer after it cools in the mouth of wide mouth jars. Let it cool over night with the lids just placed on top to keep insects and things out. Never needs refrigeration, stays fresh for months, maybe longer.
Refined ‘vegetable’ (seed) oils are toxic, highly processed at high temperatures, highly oxidative. Over decades lead to macular degeneration, heart problems, most chronic conditions. Avoid all types like the plague. There is no mention of macular degeneration in the medical journals before brothers-in-law Proctor and Gamble found a way to refine cotton seed oil for ingestion. Then a German scientist found a way to solidify oils by combining them with water at high temperatures, and ‘vegetable shortening’ was created. All the advertising about the benefits of vegetable oil and the negative effects of lard and tallow, are 180 degree lies.
funny you should mention bacon grease, we use a lot of bacon, so I have started keeping it…..when we have leftover, I do strain with cheesecloth into a glass mason jar and keep on counter (covered). I take the “bits” and put in another smaller and use for flavoring other things….salads, egg salad, etc. so far hasnt gone rancid, and btw, what did the pioneers do with it having no refrigeration? my grandma did the same….never refrigerated….so……anyway, I’m an oldie, dont have effort or time to do the rendering, raising food, etc., no farm and so on. I do a small bit of canning but about all. wondering if I should be doing a bit more to prepare for this mess coming our way!!!! (do have some stockpile (live in hurricane area)). any other suggestions welcome
I have been rendering beef fat for about three years, since I read Chris Knobbe’s book. Just as the .001% Elite are the root of all evil, processed vegetable (seed) oils are the root of all chronic disease. Cook the far over very low heat, until water vapor stops coming off. Let it cool, remove the large pieces. It’s Chicharron, can be eaten, although, remember it’s greasy. I put a fine mesh strainer in the mouth of a wide mouth jar, and ladle the liquid fat through it. I let it cool overnight, with the lid only placed over the mouth to keep insects and dust out. Stored in a cool, dark place, it keeps without refrigeration, for a long time.