Hey folks. After I cook, I save the leftover fat for use in the future. Should the leftover fat be refrigerated, or is it safe to leave the fat in the pan for 6-12 hours before re-use?
It definitely depends on the type of fat. Saturated fats hold just fine, as they are very impervious to rancidity in a short timeframe like "overnight". Bacon fat, ghee, coconut oil, beef fat, or really anything highly saturated that does not have food in it that is particularly susceptible to "going bad quickly" is ok. So it's not the actual fat that you have to worry about. It's the other food elements that may have been introduced into the fat on the first round of cooking. (think meat or it's remnants like blood or 'beef juice' like the question PersonMan posted.) Even then you may be fine, but to be technical and cover the bases, I figure it's worth a nod.
We've cooked veggies in coconut oil before and left a layer of oil in the pan overnight that looked like it was never even used. So we threw some eggs on there and fried em up the next morning. All good.
If you want to be OCD about it though, you can cover the pan with a paper towel to keep from bugs and or dust getting into it. But on a Paleo site like this, you may not garner much support behind that kind of behavior. lol.
I leave fat in my cast iron pans continuously. I wash them now and then if particles get stuck, or if I've cooked fish. Otherwise I don't give it a second thought. I can't guarantee your safety, of course, but that's what I do.
I only ever use animal fat to cook with.
Just make sure you don't have any cats or agile dogs capable of getting up on the counter/stove and licking the pan, trying to help you clean it.
I mean, it's OK if they do. I'd just want to know about it so I can avoid it :)
Depends on the fat...
Growing up in the UK, everyone had a chip pan which constantly had lard/beef dripping left in it and was used again and again.
It wasn't until we moved to vegetable oils that they were thrown away after each use. We have a little tub that we put our beef dripping into and we leave it on the kitchen bench. We will use it if it's clean (the contaminants usually sink to the bottom of the pot). But, we usually shallow fry/saute and we don't usually have much fat left as it's soaked up by the food.
However, I reuse saturated fats again after leaving them at room temperature (they're less likely to oxidise as they're saturated).
Do you have pets that will get into the tasty pan and start licking?
Sat fats are likely ok, esp. if you cover them when they are still hot.
heh, call it mostly sterile at high temps.
I don't know if it's safe, but I do this commonly with lard and coconut oil in my cast iron skillet and don't have a problem. I don't seem to have a problem with olive oil either. However, if I use something like canola or vegetable oil and try to leave it in the pan overnight, then the next day it has this horrible flavor and odor that makes my food inedible if I try to cook with it...which, by the way, is what convinced me to avoid eating those kinds of oils.
They make a handy-dandy, easily washable product for this see here:
This is the one I use, I actually bought it at a superstore for about $6.
I drain the fat through the strainer every day and then wipe out the pan and put it away. Only cause I hate to have pans left out :) otherwise I wouldnt bother.
Whenever I need some for cooking, just spoon it out into the pan. Every 3-4 months or so if I think the grease in the tin is getting too old, has too many crumbles or starts to smell weird I discard it, throw the tin into the dishwasher and start a fresh batch. Easy-greasy!
We have a jar that I keep next to the kitchen sink full of bacon fat (well not so full actually - we use it to cook almost every vegetable). I keep coconut oil in the cast iron all the time - keeps the pan looking and cooking better.
I use to clean the pan after every use (cast iron every day twice a day). Now no more! LOL! Our weekend bacon grease usually goes in the refrigerator, but if it doesn't make it in, I don't sweat it.