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How do you drain grease from your stock pots or dutch ovens?

About a year ago, I was making my favorite meal (chili), and while I was draining grease from my pot with the pot lid acting as the strainer, it occurred to me that there had to be a better way. With the exception of the one time the lid slipped and I filled my sink with the contents of the pot, using the lid to drain liquids has worked. However, I just bought a 7.25 quart dutch/french oven and it is heavy. I just don't want to drain hot liquids using lids anymore.

Colanders are great for draining water, but I don't see how they'd work with grease. Water can go straight down the drain, grease can't. So the question I have is: how do you drain grease from your stock pots or dutch ovens?

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  1. I just skim it off with a spoon.

    1. For me, the easiest way is to put the entire pot into the fridge overnight where any grease will solidify and can be easily removed with a spoon.

      2 Replies
        1. re: cheryleo

          I just did this last night with a lamb shoulder roast. Usually I fridge it overnight but we were eating it last night so I put some ice cubes in which congealed it much faster.

          Yes, you can get it to go down your drain but it will congeal again in the public system or your septic if that applies. It's a pollutant to the water. Our garbage company actually supplies containers for household grease. I just use whatever can or jar (I save a few for this purpose), store in the fridge and then put in the trash when full. I'm kind of a fanatic about this but what do you expect when you live somewhere where almost every car has a "Keep Tahoe Blue" bumper sticker on it :) After pouring bacon drippings from the skillet into a container, I then use the paper towel I drained the bacon on to wipe out the skillet. A fanatic, I tell ya :)

          EDIT: After posting this, I've done some reading and it does appears that the detergent actually attaches to/encapsulates the fat and that it is a permanent thing. After all these years, I don't think I'm going to change :) but did want to be fair. But water itself won't do that. It will rinse it out of your line but upon cooling, it's still grease.

        2. I use a pot strainer - strain the grease into another container and then let it solidify and then I dispose of it into the garbage.

          This is similiar to the strainer I use: http://www.dhw-wiremesh.com/image/pro...

          1 Reply
          1. re: lynnlato

            I like to absorb the grease with paper towels.

          2. I have several tea cups with a very thin lip, I use one of those. I also have small ladles that work.

            If it's quite a bit, I'll use a turkey baster. This takes some practice but it works really fast.
            I have a small baster that I've used for years.Be careful if you don't have the hang of it, you can end up with a hot mess. Second thought, use the ladle.

            1. I like the idea of using a turkey baster, but all of these other responses have given me something to think about. I have always made my chili by browning six pounds of ground beef and pork, after which I drain the grease (about 2 cups worth). I *could* leave the grease in the chili until it's done, then skim it off the next day. However, I'm not sure how well this would work. I'd think that I could get more of the tallow out before adding additional ingredients to the browned meat.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Bucky Badger

                I use paper towels, with tongs, and absorb it from the pot, then just throw away the paper towels.

                1. re: Bucky Badger

                  I use a colander to drain off the fat from browning ground beef. It doesn't amount to so much that it'll clog my drain, and I run some hot water after it. But I certainly don't have 2 cups worth of grease, so I guess that won't work for you. I think Flyfish's idea will work for you tho.

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Could you perhaps put a large bowl under the colander to collect the grease, then move it to a can or jar? I know this would probably require three hands, just a thought....

                    1. re: chef chicklet

                      chef c, that's what i do with ground meat, or small chunks. with larger pieces, i remove them to a plate with paper towel, and then pour off the fat into an old jar, put on the lid, and toss. if it can sit overnight in the fridge (this is good for chicken), then i just remove the chilled fat (which can be used, of course).

                      i never pour grease down the drain. i have enough problems.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        great minds... and ditto with your thoughts about grease down a drain!
                        I hardly use my garbage disposal for that matter.

                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          yep, i'm picky about my disposal, too. i recycle grocery plastic bags by using them to dispose of cuke peels, onion skins, hunks of fat, etc.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            If you're going to all of that trouble, why not just start a compost pile???

                            And I couldn't live without my garbage disposal, I certainly don't have room for a compost pile!!!

                            The amount of grease from 2 lbs of ground beef, even 80/20, really isn't all that much, and not worth the effort of getting another pot / cup dirty, imo. And I would use up an old jar, but for some reason, I can never find one around when I need it, they're either already out in the recycling can or the clean ones are being used by my kids, husband, etc...! The only grease I do contain is bacon, and we all know what to do with it!

                            But also, the only time I've ever had a clogged drain was not from grease buildup, but from potato peels and broccoli, so those I do not put down the drain anymore, everything else is game!

                            And read further below, Mr. Owen & I agree that once you add some dish detergent to it, it changes the molecular structure and won't re-congeal .

                            1. re: alkapal

                              I use small produce bags. I do run lemon peel down the disposal to keep it fresh though.

                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                Might want to try ice cubes or chicken rib bones to keep your blades from dulling, or rusting, for that matter!! LOL!

                  2. Holding a chilled lettuce leaf with tongs, dip it into the fat, which will congeal on the leaf.

                    I fill a freezer container with water and keep it in the freezer. It can be dipped into a pot to collect grease, which I then wipe off, and it can also go into the center of the finished stew to quickly cool it. I wash the outside and return the container to the freezer.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: greygarious

                      I've used lettuce as well, it works nicely for soups with a little float of grease on the I had thought that maybe it had something to do with the lettuce being ice cold. The softer lettuces work better for me, like red leaf. It's less messy than when I whip out the turkey baster that's a given.
                      Do you lay the leaves on top for a few minutes to collect the grease? I just hate wasting the lettuce.

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        I was thinking that as well, I would hate to waste a perfectly good piece of lettuce, and I'm sure you use a washed piece, not one of the dirty, wilted outer leaves.

                        1. re: Phurstluv

                          I wash all the lettuces, wrap paper towels around it and then plastic, and store it in glass, so its salad ready. I get lazy and don't eat salad if I don't clean it right away.

                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            I hear ya, same here. And I do the same, but what is storing it in glass?? You mean the vegetable bin? Or a 9x13 pyrex?

                            And do you save the 1st layer of lettuce leaves for the degreasing? Mine go into the disposal.

                            1. re: Phurstluv

                              ! have quite a few of glass (clear) that I like to store my salad greens, spinach or bok choy etc. in. For me they seem to keep the lettuce colder and fresher longer. Just one of my personal quirks.

                              "And do you save the 1st layer of lettuce leaves for the degreasing? "

                              No I don't, actually they go into the garbage. I wish I could say that I do save those outer leaves for doing what you say, I guess I don't create enough greasy moments to save them for that. Anyway, as I was saying before, mostly I use other means for degreasing anyway. The small ladle or etc.

                    2. If we're only interested in degreasing after browning, with no liquid to be saved, we use a large sieve placed over a larger bowl and dump everything in. After a couple minutes the meat goes back in the pot and the grease gets poured into the waste grease can, which gets returned to the freezer. For degreasing a braising liquid, usually just careful skimming with a ladle or equivalent. For stock, usually the refrigerator method for large quantities and one of those "pour from the bottom" thingies for smaller quantities.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: FlyFish

                        I thought of doing this, but any sieve or colander large enough to contain six pounds of beef will probably be a bowl shape. If you have a bowl-shaped sieve resting in a bowl, doesn't that leave the bottom of the sieve soaking in the grease which has collected in the bowl?

                        Any chance you know the makes and models of sieve and bowl you're using?

                        1. re: Bucky Badger

                          For the bowl, we use a large size of the standard "Rosti" melamine bowls that are available pretty much everywhere. The sieve is indeed also bowl shaped - don't know the brand but nothing special - and is the largest size that will fit inside the bowl. It does take up a lot of the space in the bowl, but unless there's an unusual quantity of grease there's enough left to drain OK, and when there's not it's a simple matter to let things drain as much as they're going to and then lift the sieve for a minute to drain the remainder. For 6 lbs of beef we'd probably need to drain it in two batches, which isn't a problem ( we have 2 bowls, 2 sieves but the worst case is that you use another container temporarily).

                          I might add we do this draining thing about every other day because we have a dog with food allergies and we're cooking large quantities of ground beef for her.

                      2. If I have a lot of fat on top of stock or broth I've made, I'll save it off with a separating pitcher, strain the liquid through cheesecloth, then when I save the broth in refrigerator containers I pour the fat over the top to help seal it, like paraffin over jelly. Then if I make gravy with the broth, I can use the fat in the roux.

                        If there's no good reason to save the fat, it can in fact be disposed of down the drain. It just has to be mixed thoroughly with detergent so that it becomes water-soluble, and then dispersed in hot water. But if there's just a few tablespoons of it floating on, say, the surface of a stew or some chili, I like those sheets they sell in cookware stores that you can lay onto the surface, where they absorb fat but none of the water-based liquid. Then you just put the sheet in the garbage.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Will Owen

                          I always cook my meat separate from everything else and drain it in a colander. If you run hot water in the sink while you're doing it, it won't clog your pipes. I would then cook my onions and garlic in fresh olive oil while the meat drains and then re-add it. There are some that think letting just cooked meat, even ground beef, "rest" is a good idea anyway. Not sure why. . . .

                          1. re: fredmant

                            Exactly how I start my chili recipe as well.

                            1. re: Phurstluv

                              Missing out on all that extra flavor by not using the rendered fat to sautee the onions and garlic? How very sad...

                              1. re: greygarious

                                Well, actually I do, I certainly don't wipe out the dutchie, and how much grease can you really get out of a plastic colander with large holes in it?? So, I add in a little oil to make sure the trinity doesn't burn, but trust me, with 80/20 ground beef, I'm getting plenty of fat with that procedure!! It ain't scientific, but it suits me just fine!!! And, it ain't a good chili if it's de-fatted, IMHO!!!

                          2. re: Will Owen

                            Please don't pour grease down the drain--it's simply a bad idea even if you use equal amounts of detergent and tons of hot water to prevent it from clogging the pipes (which are very expensive to have cleaned up if they do get clogged from too many people pouring fry oil down the sink).

                            I do what a lot of others have posted--start with a cup if there's really that much fat, and then move on to ladles and turkey basters if you have a lot of time. The leftover fat can be used for making biscuits or greasing the birdfeeder pole (or making birdseed/suet blocks unless you're in bear country).

                            1. re: Caralien

                              Yes, I agree. After I pour off the grease, I cool it in the refrigerator, which hardens the tallow. I then store the tallow in my freezer and put the gelatinized remainder of the grease back into the chili. When our winter temperatures dip below freezing, the birds around here love the tallow cakes that we put out for them.

                              1. re: Caralien

                                Mixing liquid fat thoroughly with an adequate amount of detergent utterly and permanently changes the chemistry of the fat, and makes it incapable of regaining its solid state at normal temperatures. The only environmental concern is the phosphates, if any, in the detergent, and phosphate-free detergents have come a very long way just in the past few years.

                            2. There are several Japanese products that help with this, too-- in particular, there's one for leftover frying oil that you just stir a bit into the hot leftover oil, let it cool, and an hour later it's solid and ready to be lifted out of the pan and tossed. I think it's made from seaweed, but for all I know it has all sort of undesirable ecological consequences-- we buy it in Japanese 99cent stores, but it might be more widely available by now?

                              1. Moderate amounts of grease can go straight down the drain without any problem. I do it all the time, and have never had a clog. (Well, never from the grease.) Just follow it up with a fair amount of hot water.

                                1. I line the colander with paper towels, sit in in a roasting pan and spoon in the meat, let it drain, jiggle it to get more grease out, slotted spoon it back into the pan and hide the meaty/juicy towels from the dogs.

                                  I like to think I'm strong but in reality I have zero upper body strength and to hold a hot, heavy pot full of fried meat and grease and try to strain it off with just the lid (and I can never find the lid anyway!) I would drop it every time.

                                  My Grandma used to wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and skim it over the top of chicken soup- I love that and it works pretty good, for small amounts of grease.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                    i'll have to remember your grandma's trick!

                                  2. jfood uses the following:

                                    - while the ingredients are still in the pot he takes his tongs and grabs paper towels, tilts, the pan/pot and dabs. Be careful of the flame and use a potholder.
                                    - if there are no ingredients, the he cools and then uses the same paper towel process.
                                    - Then into the compactor when cooled. He tries to limit the amount of greae into the sink.

                                      1. re: yayadave

                                        I've never felt it worked that well.