Did your grandmother used to fry up some bacon, then make eggs in the same skillet, so the eggs were full of bacon fat goodness? Maybe she set the bacon fat aside in a spar can or jar so she could cook with it later.
Turns out your grandmother was one smart cookie. Pay no attention to your mother as she shudders in disgust at the artery-clogging fat your grandmother is using. That notion is based on faulty science and weak, correlational evidence. Recent science shows there is no reason to fear saturated fat, and that it’s actually good for you.
A Quick Guide to Fats
Bacon fat is mostly saturated and monounsaturated fats, with only a small amount of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). Saturated and monounsaturated fats are preferable to PUFAs, because they are much more stable. PUFAs tend to oxidize when exposed to heat and light and consuming oxidized fat leads to oxidized cholesterol in our blood. It is the oxidized cholesterol that we want to avoid because it tends to latch onto the interior of our arteries, causing inflammation and plaque build-up – both dangerous precursors to heart disease.
Mark Sisson has a great post on keeping bacon fat stable for cooking.
Bacon Fat v. Lard
Lard is another form of pig fat you can use to cook with. When you reuse the fat left in the pan after you’ve cooked bacon, that’s lard. There are other ways to render lard and plenty of places sell it for a reasonable price. Just be sure to get the real thing, not the hydrogenated stuff that has been adulterated to make it shelf stable.