Bear Fat

jlaner0408

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2017
Messages
406
Location
SE Idaho
Reading all of these comments is making me seriously consider running after some bruins with the black bear tag I get with my sportsman’s tag package here in Idaho.

I get a bear, lion, and wolf tag with it but typically have only viewed those as fall back tags if I’m out elk or deer hunting and run across one of those.
 

30338

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Messages
1,238
On another note, I looked it up several years ago, the bear lard is actually much healthier for you then pig and beef lard. So if you can get your hands on it, by all means don't toss it out.
 
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M

Mibowhunter49

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Joined
Mar 3, 2021
Messages
32
Reading all of these comments is making me seriously consider running after some bruins with the black bear tag I get with my sportsman’s tag package here in Idaho.

I get a bear, lion, and wolf tag with it but typically have only viewed those as fall back tags if I’m out elk or deer hunting and run across one of those.

Sounds like a target-rich environment!
 

30338

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Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Messages
1,238
Great thread; hope I can put this info to use this spring.

In terms of getting the fat outta the woods, do y'all cut it off in the field (and if so, what do you put it in? is it firm enough to just go in a separate game bag?) or leave it attached to the quarters and such to be cut off later (seems like if its a 65 degree May afternoon, I'd want to get it off the meat to help the cooling)?

I'd take it all one way or another; just looking to learn from others' experiences.

Thanks!
I hunt them with temps in upper 80s in Sept in CO. I have cut 4" thick slabs off and put in game bags. I have also just put fat covered quarters in packs. I do tend to use unscented trash bags on bears as they are greasy mothers and will make a pack tough to clean. But get it out to camp, take fat off quarters and ice all of it. Most times I have all my rendering supplies at the truck camp and just pop open a Coors and go to heating it right there. Not a huge deal and good to have it done.

Makes it easy when you get home. Just worry with the meat and the lard is all in jars already.
 

Cameron.25

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Jan 26, 2021
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353
Location
Oregon
Berries come out in the fall.
This is correct. They are definitely fatter in the fall too. I hear they can tend to taste better in fall but im not sure yet, i got my only one so far in august. Im sure if you take care of the meat it'll taste good no matter if its spring or fall depending on how you prepare it.

I didnt make sausage, i mostly canned it so i really took my time and got all of the fat, sinew and silverskin off the meat and i think it made a big difference in taste. Next time i wanna make some sausage and try trimming less stuff off cause it took a long time to trim lol. I really like having the rendered fat and canned bear meat around tho. Its nice that you dont have to cook it or keep it in the freezer and its super versatile, i add it to dishes in place of shredded beef
 

Bridger#5

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
12
Location
Idaho Falls Idaho
This year was my first time bear hunting. Got to full draw to early on a giant on public land in MI, passed a smaller one earlier in the week.

In running through my mental check list of packing out and butchering, I was wondering how many of you save fat, for eating or other uses.

I'm not expecting a fall big woods bear to have particularly tasty fat, but I have seen articles about using the fat as a water proofer.

Any input?
My grandmother used it for baking, frying and especially for hand or foot ointment. Countless uses really
 

DawnPatrol

Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
74
Location
Nunya
I’ve used the fat from my bears to cut into elk and deer burger and that was outstanding.

I've wanted to try this, but I've heard people say that un-rendered bear fat will go rancid in the freezer quickly, so it's better to use pork or beef fat to amend burger/sausage.

Any thoughts or experiences in this regard?

I don't know why frozen bear fat would go rancid but not pork/beef.
 

cjl32

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Joined
Mar 31, 2016
Messages
124
Location
MS
I've taken three bears and all were killed in September in South Central Colorado San Juan National Forest eating mostly acorns and some berries. All were excellent table fare. Only one had enough fat to collect but it had plenty as me and my buddy took our time and were able to get five gallon ziplocs of pure fat with no meat attached. It rendered almost two gallons of snow white fat that had no distinguishing taste. See my process described below. You could dip a small amount straight out of a jar to eat and it has a very, very slight and pleasant woodsy flavor. I used the fat to make homemade biscuits and I would fry eggs and french fries in it for my three kids. They loved eating it almost as as much as telling friends and family we cooked with bear fat and of course I fried bear meat in it for everyone to sample. I've read it is the best fat/grease for pastries and it did fine but I really couldn't tell a difference from crisco. Maybe I'm not a good enough baker to tell the difference.

How I rendered my Bear fat: I made sure there was absolutely no meat still attached to fat and cubed into ½”-1” pieces. I read that was the key to the best pure white rendering and it worked well for my one attempt. I rendered down the cubed pieces in the largest electric slow cooker that Walmart sells. We call them crock pots in Mississippi and I wasn't brave enough to use my wife's, so I bought one just for this. I highly recommend rendering outside as there is a smell when rendering. Not bad or offensive but not a smell you want to be putting off for several hours in your house. I filled crock pot and poured about two cups of water to prevent scorching of the fat until it started rendering. The water cooks off early in the process and by then there is sufficient liquid fat to prevent burning or scorching. It was on "low" setting and in 8-10 hours the cubes had shriveled down to little pieces and turned a light brown. I've read that it should result in crispy cracklins but mine remained soft. I dipped out the cracklins and poured the rendered fat into a cheap plastic gallon lemonade pitcher with the typical pour spot. I used the pitcher because it was much easier pouring into the jars than straight out of the crock pot. I strained through cheese cloth as I poured it into pint and quart jars to remove any hair or chunks. The liquid was actually not clear like water but had a slight yellowish/brown tinge in the jars. Once it cooled and I put it into the refrigerator it turned to a snow white color. I did this process until all the fat chunks had been rendered. Worked really well.
 

Soj51hopeful

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Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
104
Location
State of Jefferson
I've wanted to try this, but I've heard people say that un-rendered bear fat will go rancid in the freezer quickly, so it's better to use pork or beef fat to amend burger/sausage.

Any thoughts or experiences in this regard?

I don't know why frozen bear fat would go rancid but not pork/beef.
I’ve heard this as well but I never had that problem. i just recently cooked a bear roast that was extra fatty and had been in the freezer over a year. It was great! The burger with bear fat in it was in the freezer at the longest probably 6-7 months and was great. I’ve only done this with 2 bears and both were fine. Not sure what the difference would be.
 
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Mibowhunter49

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2021
Messages
32
I've taken three bears and all were killed in September in South Central Colorado San Juan National Forest eating mostly acorns and some berries. All were excellent table fare. Only one had enough fat to collect but it had plenty as me and my buddy took our time and were able to get five gallon ziplocs of pure fat with no meat attached. It rendered almost two gallons of snow white fat that had no distinguishing taste. See my process described below. You could dip a small amount straight out of a jar to eat and it has a very, very slight and pleasant woodsy flavor. I used the fat to make homemade biscuits and I would fry eggs and french fries in it for my three kids. They loved eating it almost as as much as telling friends and family we cooked with bear fat and of course I fried bear meat in it for everyone to sample. I've read it is the best fat/grease for pastries and it did fine but I really couldn't tell a difference from crisco. Maybe I'm not a good enough baker to tell the difference.

How I rendered my Bear fat: I made sure there was absolutely no meat still attached to fat and cubed into ½”-1” pieces. I read that was the key to the best pure white rendering and it worked well for my one attempt. I rendered down the cubed pieces in the largest electric slow cooker that Walmart sells. We call them crock pots in Mississippi and I wasn't brave enough to use my wife's, so I bought one just for this. I highly recommend rendering outside as there is a smell when rendering. Not bad or offensive but not a smell you want to be putting off for several hours in your house. I filled crock pot and poured about two cups of water to prevent scorching of the fat until it started rendering. The water cooks off early in the process and by then there is sufficient liquid fat to prevent burning or scorching. It was on "low" setting and in 8-10 hours the cubes had shriveled down to little pieces and turned a light brown. I've read that it should result in crispy cracklins but mine remained soft. I dipped out the cracklins and poured the rendered fat into a cheap plastic gallon lemonade pitcher with the typical pour spot. I used the pitcher because it was much easier pouring into the jars than straight out of the crock pot. I strained through cheese cloth as I poured it into pint and quart jars to remove any hair or chunks. The liquid was actually not clear like water but had a slight yellowish/brown tinge in the jars. Once it cooled and I put it into the refrigerator it turned to a snow white color. I did this process until all the fat chunks had been rendered. Worked really well.

Appreciate the write up
 

DawnPatrol

Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
74
Location
Nunya
Just wanted to post my first go at processing bear fat--overwhelmingly positive, thanks to lots of good info above.

So... this spring I glassed up a bear near the bottom of a big canyon. My buddy bailed down in there and by last light we were standing over his beautiful 200ish lb chocolate boar. We were about half a mile from my truck in ballistic distance, but 1300 ft below it and did not want to make more than one trip out. This precipitated an earnest conversation about what parts of the bear to pack out. We left the hide (kinda rubbed off), but once we started cutting into the pure white fat on the back, there was no way we were leaving any of that for the magpies.

In the end, we wound up with about 15 lbs of fat between us. I basically followed cjl32's advice (above) about rendering my half of it. The only deviations were that I ground all the fat first while it was half frozen to increase yield (as recommended by Clay Newcomb/Meateater) and rendered it in a crockpot rather than over a burner. I'd recommend the crockpot route for ease--you can basically just set the ground fat in there with a little water and come back 8-12 hours later and it's done and you don't have to worry about it burning or sticking as you might over a burner. I covered my crockpot with a window screen rather than a lid to facilitate evaporation of the water, while keeping off the flies/yellowjackets. But my crockpot would only hold half the fat at a time, so I had to do it twice. Anyway, I rendered about 7 lbs of fat into about 64oz. of pure white lard.

Just working with it made me see why people use it as hand cream. But I was way more interested in eating it--and so far it has been great! I've used it as fry oil to make french fries for poutine (with bear bone broth gravy) and as fry oil to cook chicken-fried bear tenderloin. Both disappeared fast! I haven't yet convinced my wife (the baker in the family) to use it in pie crust, but I'll get her on board. Or maybe i'll use it to make tomales...

I also wanted to circle back to the rumor that un-rendered bear fat will go rancid in the freezer:
I’ve heard this as well but I never had that problem. i just recently cooked a bear roast that was extra fatty and had been in the freezer over a year. It was great! The burger with bear fat in it was in the freezer at the longest probably 6-7 months and was great. I’ve only done this with 2 bears and both were fine. Not sure what the difference would be.

FWIW, this is what Meateater folks had to say about keeping the fat in the freezer:

"According to Clay you can store un-rendered or rendered bear fat in an airtight container for up to 6 months in the freezer to utilize the fat before it starts burning. https://www.themeateater.com/cook/butchering-and-processing/how-to-make-bear-grease
Pork fat is the same --> https://www.simplyhealthyfamily.org/best-ways-store-lard/
Happy hunting & fishing,"

So it seems that un-rendered bear fat stays good for 6 months to a year just like pork. Meat usually doesn't make it that long in my freezer anyway, so this kinda opens the door to a lot of good cooking options because (unlike deer/elk) bear fat is delicious!

Less than 2 months to fall bear season!
 

dtrkyman

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2014
Messages
860
You guys got me wanting to buy a bear tag! Would love some good rendered fat.

Is most of it coming off the back?
 

Triggerman650

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2021
Messages
15
Check out Clay Newcomb's articles on the website for Bear Hunting Magazine. He goes through many uses as well as shows how to render it properly. I'd say not harvesting the fat is pretty wasteful when you consider the many uses for it. It should be something you take out of the woods with you.
I listen to the meateater podcast with Steven Rinella and Clay has been on their quite a few times talking about bear hunting and bear fat in particular and the many uses for it.. They call it liquid gold for a reason.
 
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