Why it’s important to mind your turkey fat this thanksgiving

Preventing your turkey fat from entering the sewers has become more critical than ever this year.

A lot has changed over the last couple of years, but one thing that remains is the threat of turkey fats and grease around the holiday season to the American Sewer System.

When discarded the wrong way, cooking fat becomes one of the main contributors to blockages, which will cause all sorts of problems for households and businesses alike. Once in the sewers, fats, oils, and grease — or FOG — will meet other objects (also wrongfully) flushed down the toilet to form huge masses as hard as concrete and can reach miles-long sizes.

These are the infamous “fatbergs,” a word that reimagines icebergs as if they were made out of, well, fat. Just like its frozen cousins, a fatberg remains mostly hidden, at least at first. Initially, you will only see its presence in a small way without realizing a monster lurking underneath.

However, with time, these inanimate creatures bring several issues to domestic and commercial customers, and they cost cities a lot of money. Think weeks-long removal procedures forcing road closures or even interruptions in the water supply.

What is my part in this?

The suggestion that a subterranean monster can be linked to a single holiday might sound like a stretch. Still, it is essential to remember that Americans consume about 46 million turkeys during Thanksgiving. This considerable amount of meat will result in a sizable amount of fat, so the country would already be in trouble if even half of this material ended up in the sewers.

The situation became critical last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The sewer had to deal with masks and products such as wet wipes, which became toilet paper substitutes thanks to the panic-buying that preceded lockdown in some places. Together, FOG and these “unflushables” tend to become enormous headaches for cities to deal with.

What can I do?

There are two ways of dealing with turkey fat, depending on how patient you are. Suppose you don’t want to reuse this material or can’t recycle it. In that case, the easiest one is to store it in a container until it cools down and then throw everything away with your regular garbage. Problem solved.

You can also render the fat, separate it from everything else, and reuse it in other recipes — something that can take hours to do but is worth it for the results. In short, the process involves making a broth that should later be cooled down so that the fat will float to the surface and harden. Then, the broth underneath can be frozen in containers. At the same time, the hardened grease – after being re-heated and filtered until there is no impurity left – is a good substitute in recipes that ask for butter or lard.

Regardless of your method, the important thing is to ensure that you stop fats and grease from escaping into the sewers.