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How to soak up bacon grease with a clear conscience

Every once in awhile we peek into our inbox and actually find a good question from a genuine reader (versus the endless PR product pitches). Here's one from Erin:

Do you have any good solutions to the problem of bacon grease? I haven't bought paper towels to drain the greasy stuff in years. We don't use paper bags (although if we slip and have one from the store we use that and it works just fine). We don't use newspapers either (yet again, the occasional Willamette Week from the grocery store is more than adequate!) Older kitchen towels were the staple for awhile, but they get nasty fast and we cant seem to wash the grease off them. So what do we non- paper product people use to absorb the grease? Any ideas??

Once you've given up disposable paper products in the kitchen, it's really hard to cut yourself a break and use them (sparingly) on occasion. But this is exactly what I did a few months ago after having a conversation with Renee about bacon grease. Up to then I'd been blotting our bacon with a towel, like Erin, and then tossing it in the wash (and yes, they always remained a little sticky). Renee gently suggested I give up that practice since there really isn't any difference between washing grease down the drain (no-no) and putting it through the laundry. Ah.

Now I keep a stealth roll of recycled-content paper towels in the dark recesses under our sink, out of sight for everyday use, but there when we really, really need it. But it's recently occurred to me that there might be an even better solution: digging into the rag bag. I don't know about you, but we go through A LOT of t-shirts around here. Whether they be pitted out or stained or ripped beyond repair (or donation), I am constantly shaking my head and tossing more into the rag bag. There are only so many rags you can use, so why not put them through the wash, cut them up into smaller pieces, keep them on hand for greasy clean-ups and then throw them away? It really is okay to throw some stuff away, particularly after it's exhausted its useful life.

I'm also really keen to try baking bacon in the oven. I've read you can bake it by placing the bacon on a broiler pan so that the grease drips through the slats. Once the grease has cooled and solidified, you could just scrape it out into the garbage (or save it for future cooking, if you're into that).

Any other suggestions? The comments in this post from a few months ago also have some great insight into cleaning up gross messes.

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