Extending the shelf life of duck fat

Extending the Shelf Life of Duck Fat

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

As we think about storing essential food items in our long term storage pantry, every pantry should include duck fat. This fat is popular in European and Asian dishes, and can provide rich and savory flavors to your home cooked meals. Preppers should consider including this in their pantry, as this cooking fat could be a high in demand commodity in a prolong SHTF scenario. We looked into the best way to extend the shelf life of duck fat so we could summarize the essential information into a single article.

Duck fat, also known as duck grease, has a shelf life of 6 months if stored in an airtight container and then refrigerated. And if kept in a freezer, it will be usable up to 1 year. To prevent duck fat from going rancid before its expiration date, you should limit exposure to heat, sunlight, and air. By doing this, the duck fat will last a long time.

Why should I use duck fat?

People have a misconception that “fats” are bad and should be avoided. But fats are an essential macronutrient needed in our diet for healthy cellular development. If the duck fat comes from a quality source, you’ll be getting savory and natural cooking fat that can enhance your meals and provide numerous health benefits.

Additionally duck fat is a saturated fat with a smoke point of 370°F or 190°C. When compared to other oils and fats, this is a high smoke point, making it great tool in the kitchen for cooking recipes with meat, vegetables, or fish. So you can see how it compares to related oils and fats, Coconut Oil and Butter have smoke point of 350°F or 170°C, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a smoke point of up to 375°F or 192°C.

cooked duck meat

Duck fat has been used to feed people and cook delicious dishes for century. It is a popular fat in Chinese and French dish, and numerous other ethnic cuisines. It is also versatile tool in the kitchen as it can be used for roasting, frying, and sautéing different types of meat, fish, and vegetables.

Health Benefits of Duck Fat

Duck fat is composed of saturated fat (28%), unsaturated fat (65%), and trans fat (~7%). Essentially, this means it has a lower saturated fat percentage than lard and tallow, and shares a similar makeup as olive oil and avocado oil. The high unsaturated fat makeup provide linoeic oleic acid, found in olive oil that provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The conjugated linoeic acid (CLA) found in duck fat is a higher percentage than in chicken or turkey. CLA is in polyunsaturated fat, a trans fat, that is known to reduce the risk of numerous diseases and improve glucose tolerance as well as skeletal muscle insulin action.

Also, you should know the trans fat found in duck fat is natural. Natural trans fat is healthier than the factory manufactured alternative often found in margarine and packaged foods. Factory produced fats and oils are known to cause health issues, and natural cooking fats and oils should be used whenever possible.

Extending the Shelf Life of Duck Fat

To maximize the shelf life of duck fat, you should be informed about the potential length of its shelf life, rancid causing elements, effects of proper packaging, and storage locations. Knowing this information, will provide you with the right insight to prep not only your duck fat, but also other cooking fats for long term storage.

What is the Shelf Life of Duck Fat?

Natural duck fat is best used within three months, but if stored properly and refrigerated it can be kept for 6 months, and up to one year if frozen.

To prep the duck fat for long term storage, it will depend on:

  • Proper Packaging

  • Exposure to Heat, Sunlight, or Air

  • Storage Location

FYI: Companies occasionally hydrogenate oils and fats to extend the shelf life of the fats. The process of hydrogenation reduces the nutritional benefits, the strong flavors, and adds unnatural ingredients. It is recommended to reach out to a local farmer or make your own duck fat to ensure the purity of the duck fat.

Proper Packaging for Duck fat

First, you should know there are multiple ways to properly package duck fat. Usually, the packaging provided by the manufacturer will work fine. However, we found that some packages are more effective for long term storage. Typically, the most common are:

  1. Plastic bucket

  2. Glass mason jar

  3. Plastic container

Plastic Buckets

The pros of duck fat in plastic buckets is that you will get the best price per quantity and plastic buckets are the best at protecting the fat from heat, sunlight, and air because of the air tight container. However, the responsibility of keeping it in a cool place falls on us, especially if you live in a warmer climate.

As for cons, plastic buckets are made from plastic, which means there is the concern of microplastics entering the contents of the duck fat. Additionally, once opened, you have to consume a large quantify of fat before it expires, which may be difficult for a single person. After opening the plastic bucket, repeat exposure to air will speed up the process of rancidity.

Glass Mason Jars

The pros of duck fat in glass mason jar is that a factory sealed container will prevent any air from entering the jar, but you will need to take extra precaution to limit exposure to sunlight and heat if the glass is not tinted. If the glass is clear, you should consider storing the glass jar in a dark pantry or refrigerator.

One obvious con of glass jars, is how fragile they are. Additionally, not all glass containers can be kept in a freezer. If you intend to store duck fat in a freezer, consider using a durable freezer safe container for longer storage.

Plastic container

As for plastic containers, we suggest replacing the packaging since there are few upsides of using them. Cooking fats in plastic containers have a shorter shelf life, are not protected from rancid causing elements, and microplastics can leak into the fat over time. If you purchase duck fat in a plastic container, consider moving it into a freezer safe jar, or wrapping it around in food storage paper and storing it in freezer bag.

If there is any upside of purchasing duck fat in a plastic container, is from a cost perspective. Duck fat in plastic containers is cheaper than in other packaging types.

Quick Tip: Remember to label the bag with the date to keep track of older foods in your storage location.

Avoiding Exposure to Heat, Sunlight, and Air

The most common causes of rancid duck fat is exposure to heat, sunlight, and air. Extended exposure to any of these will make the fat spoil before the expiration date on the label.

Fortunately, this is an easy issue to resolve. Simply remember to reseal the container once done using the fat, and store the duck fat in a cool and dark place. A dark pantry or refrigerator would be ideal for protection against the elements.

Storage Locations for Duck Fat

As previously mentioned, the best place to store duck fat is in a cool and dark place. Perferably in a fridge or freezer, where the duck fat can be best preserved.

Duck fat in a jar can be kept at room temperature, but should be moved into a refrigerator for proper storing after it has been opened. This will maximize freshness.

It’s important to store duck fat properly to avoid it going rancid.

How long can duck fat be stored in the fridge?

If stored properly in a fridge, duck fat can be kept fresh for 6 months. This requires you take the right actions to prevent exposure from heat, sunlight, and air. For best results in extending its shelf life, the duck fat container should be sealed until it is needed. After initial exposure to air, the duck fat will go rancid sooner.

How long can duck fat be stored in a freezer?

Duck fat, preserved in a freezer, can be kept for over a year. To ensure it is stays fresh, you should take the precautions mentioned earlier to ensure it is properly stored. Although it is frozen, it still requires a few additional measures to ensure it does not get freezer burn. But a few extra steps before you put it in the freezer, can ensure you have a healthy cooking oil for long term storage.

Overtime, the freshness of the duck fat will fade, but un-frozen duck fat will still be a delicious cooking fat to salute vegetables or roast meats. Fortunately, once heated in a pan, it will revert back to fat that can be used for cooking.

How do I know if Duck Fat is Rancid?

The signs of rancid duck fat is easy to spot. You should pay attention to look, smell, and taste of the cooking fat to test it for spoilage.

The first sign of rancid cooking fat would be by the look of it. If it has discoloration, you can quickly determine it has spoiled and discard of it immediately. But this may not always be obvious, so you should smell it next. Rancid cooking fats and oils have an off and soapy aroma. If it passes this test, you may want to taste a small piece of the duck fat to see if it is still good. If it fails one of these three tests, it is best to discard the spoiled duck fat as it can lead to upset stomach and discomfort later on.

Occasionally, duck fat will last longer than its labeled expiration date, but this will depends on how well preserved it is.

Quick Tip: You should label the package before storage with the current date and when it is expected to spoil, so you can better track the product.

Healthy Alternatives to Duck Fat

Cooking fats and oils are derived from animal and plant based products. There is a widespread debate between health experts on the benefits of cooking oils and fats. Since health experts are still debating these topics, misconceptions around ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats are still common among the general public.

However, in recent years, more and more health experts have supported the use of natural products with limited processing. As they have become popular alternatives, they have become widely available. If you are considering other cooking fats and oils, consider:

Keep in mind, the source of the cooking ingredients matter. This will determine the quality and purity of the ingredient. Additionally, you should aspire to use unrefined or extra virgin variations of the oils and fats as it would have more nutritional benefits when compared to industrially produced vegetable oils. However, you should know unsaturated extra virgin and unrefined cooking oils have a much shorter shelf life then hydrogenated and heavily processed options. Still, saturated oils, like unrefined cold pressed coconut oil are chemically stable fats, and have a shelf life of up to 5 years if stored properly!

Alternative uses for Duck Fat

Duck fat is a versatile tool for preppers who like to make the most use out of their goods. Duck fat can be used as a:

  • Moisturizer

  • To cover wounds

  • To make DIY candles

  • To make DIY soaps

How is Duck Fat made?

There are different ways to skin a cat, but in this case, a duck. There are a broad category of different breeds of duck such as pekin, mallard, and more who provide different flavors of duck fat. Other influences are the diet of the duck as well as where the fat is sourced from the duck. The process of making duck fat involves separating the duck fat from the duck while the bird is being cooked. The rendered duck fat is then stored and kept to be used at a later point.

What are the nutritional facts of Duck Fat?

Duck fat is made almost entirely from the macronutrient, fat. One serving, or a tablespoon (12.8 grams) of duck fat will be:

  • Calories: 112.9 calories

  • Fat: 12.8g

  • Protein: 0g

  • Carbohydrates: 0g

  • Fiber: 0g

  • Sugar: 0g

Disposing of Duck fat?

To dispose of duck fat, it is important to consider environmentally friendly ways of disposing of it. This often means finding ways of reusing it instead of pouring it down the drain or into a trash bag.

Generally speaking, you should avoid pouring cooking oils and fats down a sink drain as they can harden and collect over time, making it hard for water and waste to go down the drain. This would require an expensive visit from a plumber to fix.

Additionally, simply throwing into a trash bag may attract pests or cause foul odor to emit from the trash bag. If you choose to dispose of the fat this way, its best to wait for it to harden and pour the fat into a ziplock bag before putting it in a trash bag.

When it comes to finding environmentally friendly ways of disposing of cooking oils and fats, some ideas may include:

  • Adding the duck fat to compost

  • Adding used fat to your dog’s meal

  • Adding the fat to a bird feeder

  • Using the duck fat to perform household chores

  • Make Candles

  • Make Soap


In short, duck fat has a shelf life of six months when stored in a refrigerator, or up to one year if stored in a freezer. However, to ensure it can reach its max shelf life, it is important to take the right actions to prevent it from going rancid before its expiration date. Doing so, will allow you and your family to have delicious duck fat for a long time.

For preppers, duck fat is a super helpful cooking fat to heave nearby as it can be used for more then just cooking. It can be used to reduce the pain from an injury, lubricate hinges, make candles, and soap if you run out of it in a SHTF scenario.

Disclaimer: We are not health experts, and you should consult with a nutritionist before making any changes to your diet. This article and blog is the opinion of people who are holistic preppers.

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