Black Bear can afford some of the most sublime and delicious tasting meat anywhere. This is because of its fat. That said, a Black Bear's fat is flavored by its diet and being opportunistic omnivores, it's diet can vary widely. In other words, if a Bear fattens up for winter on acorns and blueberries, it will end up with a delightfully sweet, rich flavor. If a Bear fattens up on fish or eats a container or motor oil (it has happened), it can end up tasting pretty funky.
A fellow hunter, to whom I am extremely grateful, shared some of his hard earned harvest of this year's Black Bear with me. One of the most delightful treats that he gave me was a huge bag of Bear fat.
Each time I am so fortunate to receive Bear fat from my friend, I render it and use it all year for cooking and baking. Below is a description of how to do it.
First, cut the fat into small 1 inch cubes. Be sure to separate any large pieces of meat and set them aside. They can be used for ground Bear or cubed for stew meat.
Place the small cubes of fat into a large pot and set the heat to LOW. Having messed this up in the past because I tried to rush the process under higher heat, I can tell you that it is really easy to burn the fat and ruin it's flavor.
As it cooks, it will start to change color. The whole process can take a few hours so be patient, stir occasionally and let it do it's thing. Keep it on LOW the whole time.
Once the bits of fat look like crispy golden brown pork rinds, you're done.
Place a sheet of paper towel in the strainer to catch any of the smaller particles that may make in into the otherwise clear Bear fat. Strain the liquid fat into a metal bowl. At this stage, you will be left with a bonus: Crispy "Bear rinds". Salt them and add a pinch of spicy chili pepper for a delicious treat!
Once the very hot liquid fat has had a few minutes to cool just a bit, pour the fat into Ball or Mason jars.
There you have it. Delicious, heathy, wild harvested Black Bear fat. It is incredible for frying and baking. It's particularly delicious in making super flaky buscuits.
Store in the refrigerator and enjoy!