Rendered fat - does it last forever? (Storage)
I have some jars of rendered fat in my refrigerator from various years:
* store-bought duck fat used for confit, strained, stored back in fridge (2010/2011)
* rendered duck fat (2012)
* rendered beef fat (1/1/2013)
* making rendered chicken fat today (4/29/2013)
Question is - how long does this stuff last? My searches have told me anywhere from a few weeks to a year, but my duck fat from 2010/2011 still looks good and smells fine... too scared to taste it. I hear about fat going "rancid" - is this an obvious smell?
Also, my beef fat has a thin layer of gunk on the bottom (cheesecloth didn't do a 100% job) - does this affect storage time?
Please share your experiences! I have a LOT of beef fat, and if it's going to go bad soon, I'm going to start gifting fat to people!
If you want to avoid the layer of gunk at the bottom, let the fat solidify in an upside-down jar. (Be careful upending it if it's still warm-- it may leak a little.) Once it has solidified, open the container and skim off the gunk. Remelt if you'd rather have the clean fat at the bottom of the jar.
When I was a kid, my grandmother ALWAYS saved bacon grease... she never called it "fat". GREAT for frying eggs and only thing she used to shallow fry crab cakes. My niece calls me "the fat lady"... and NOT cuz of my size. I ALWAYS have a container of bacon grease in fridge... imnsho, it NEVER goes bad. I USUALLY have some rendered chicken fat, too. After she tasted my fried potatoes/onions/celery (my version of hash browns)... she KNEW a good thing!!
One of the supermarkets I go to usually has packages of bacon "ends" left over from slicing. Generally not pretty, sometimes big/thick chunks, but thoroughly flavorful and totally edible. They usuallt just wanna get RID of these and price is always good. Have, on occasion, bought 1-2 packages JUST to render out the liquid GOLD... dogs liked the real bacon treats.
Commercially rendered animal fats will last for ages in the freezer or refrigerator. Home-rendered fats, however, usually contain impurities (e.g. water, blood, protein) that cause the fat to go rancid. I would store these in the freezer for long-term keeping.
From my experience of one batch of duck fat going rancid after a few months, I couldn't smell anything wrong with it, but the taste was terrible.
re: c oliver
so i just tested my old duck fat (circa 2010/2011) that smelled fine, and it did NOT taste fine. it didn't make my tongue tingle, but it just tasted off and not pleasant. too bad... would have been great if it lasted 3 years! still snow white, though.
my 2012 duck fat, though, still tastes like duck fat! it, however, is not snow white... slightly brown probably b/c i cooked it too long when rendering.
i keep fat in the freezer basically forever. it can get freezer-burned or lose its oomphy flavor, but i have never had it go off. yes, the smell of rancidity is obvious.
oil with particulates can go off more easily, but it seems relatively fresh? just spoon off the top stuff, leaving the gunk on the bottom and keep the clean oil.
thanks, hotoy! i'll try the freezer option. do you pour the liquid fat into ice cube trays and then transfer to a bag for storage?
i probably have a quart of fat in a tall jar, and only the bottommost millimeter of the jar has these particulates. i might just chance it because the effort of removing all the fat above it sounds too much!