How can I reuse or recycle ham bone and fat?

ham-boneI guess this is more of a straight “reuse” and less of a “recycle” than normal but it’s Monday morning and I’m tired, and I can’t think of anything else ;)

We had a ham the other day and it was the fattiest piece of meat I think I’ve ever seen. There were inches of the stuff.

I usually keep the bone and use it to make a stock/soup but the fat would completely overwhelm said stock or soup. There are some suggestions here for rendering it and some recipes to use it in too – anyone done anything like that or got any other suggestions?

Also, what do you use ham bones for? The stock doesn’t seem to me that it’s as versatile as vegetable stock or chicken stock because it’s pretty strongly flavoured in its own right. I’ve used it, with chunks of the ham, to make ham-centred soups (mmm, hearty ham & bean) and the bone itself in the pot with rice while cooking at add a bit of flavour. What do you do with them?

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11 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle ham bone and fat?”


  1. Bobbie says:

    Oooo…Ham, bones and all, go a long way at my house. Firstly we slice the ham deliciously thin, removing all fat of course since we have to watch our cholesterol. Mostly we use it for making sandwiches, but occasionally will slice a few thicker slices for frying, etc. I put the slices in freezer bag portions and freeze, keeping some out for immediate use.

    1. I render the fat by slow heating in a crock pot, but any method you can use that is slow, low heat will work as well, e.g. in the oven, or on the stove. Don’t try to hurry it or you will catch the fat on fire, ok? Once all rendered, I strain it through a paper towel over a sieve (ruins cloth). This result I freeze in the freezer until I get enough to make soap with. Later on I will grate the soap and make laundry soap as it is the best soap you can get for it and costs practically nothing.

    2. I use the remaining bones for making dry beans. Southern style green beans are also good with the bones and scraps. If I am not ready to make beans, then I freeze bones and meat until I am.

    3. I use the scraps to make casseroles etc.

    4. Once we eat the beans the leftover bone is cut at the joint, making 2 pieces, and given to the dogs as it is a safe bone for them to eat. I must say, they LOVE it.

    Just a note about bones etc. After I make a turkey at Thanksgiving holiday I return the bones to a pot of water for more cooking. I cook the bones until they are rubbery, strain the broth. Then I add 1 large chicken bullion cube to each 2 cups of broth, then freeze. This is wonderful and so much better than the canned chicken broth, which tastes like water in comparison.

    Goodness, I think this is the longest comment I have ever submitted.!

  2. I was watching a dvd about buildings either the Eiffel Tower and they use fat for lubricant for the lifts.

  3. moonflower says:

    Honestly, for some applications, rendered pork fat is worth it’s weight in
    gold! It cannot be beat for seasoning cast iron pots/pans—the original
    non-stick cookware. Also, it is great for seasoning a steel wok. I once heard a story of how some guy used it to waterproof a pair of his hiking
    boots, which would work really good, but would cause problems if you
    own a dog, who would then find your boots irresistable for chewing! LOL
    You can use it to keep garden tools from rusting too. Perhaps it could be
    used in those bird feeders that utilize suet (rendered beef fat). I know a
    guy who says you can use it to coat small blocks of chese (8 oz.) before
    you put them in the fridge as this gives the cheese a “mold proof armor”
    similar to wax, that can be picked off when it is cold, and thus, solid.
    And finally, there is this really neat trick where you paint it on easter eggs in shapes/patterns before you dye em and that part stays neutral.

  4. George says:

    I don’t know what ever became of this, but there once was a group of school kids who were working on a green team project where their goal
    was to assemble an orchestra and make all the “instruments” out of recycled trash, then, produce a hit CD. Some of the percussion section
    items were made of ham bones! Apparently, dem bones, being porous,
    have some kind of acoustic properties or something…..Also, someone
    used hambones to make some kind of flute. Wow. Could they be used for the ancient art of scrimshaw, so ivory is not needed? What about
    genuine bone buttons? Lots of applications in arts and crafts…….

  5. Diana says:

    This may strike some as stunningly weird, but here goes….. I take the rendered ham fat and slather it on my feet at night, then put on two pairs of socks and go to bed. When I get up in the morning I wash the lard off my feet and it is amazing how easily I can file all the dead skin/callouses off my feet! Then lotion. This gives you SUPER SOFT FEET!

    • Tina says:

      Diana, I heard about this too. I got super soft feet, but it was a major headache getting a greasy stain out of my king-size bedsheets. The second time I did it, I only put on one pair of socks, but I wore heavy plastic gallon size zip-lock baggies over them: problem solved.

  6. Mary says:

    ROTFL !!!!Girls, just the thought of this will keep me smiling for weeks!
    I can see that this is, undoubtedly, a good idea but….I own three cats
    who all sleep on/in my bed & would flip out if my feet smelled like ham!
    So, speaking of pets, you could probably pour some of this over some lucky dog’s kibble for an extra special treat. Or how about using this to “flavor” a couple of tennis balls?

  7. Ed says:

    I wonder if you could take that rendered fat and put it in a home-made
    oil lamp…….that would then give off a ham-scent when you burn it?
    I have seen lots of candles that feature food scents; pumpkin pie,
    vanilla beans, mocha/coffee, and on and on… The only problem is that
    if I smell ham in the house, I want a ham sandwich!

  8. kittykat says:

    If you’re gonna get a lot of fat off that ham, render it! Strain it and put it
    into an ice cube tray. Those little cubes have 101 uses! No room here for all of them, but here are two of my faves: The flakiest, heavenly, home made biscuits start with these. You wanna talk serious comfort food? Biscuits and gravy. Or grease a pan & make corn bread. Here’s a unique use for a small section of a ham bone: Cut a 1 inch piece and clean it out real good so it looks like a small piece of PVC pipe. Next, learn to make a KILLER home-made deep dish apple pie. Before you bake the pie you insert the ham bone in the center of your pie so the steam can escape through the hole, then you won’t have a mushy top crust.

  9. Nicole says:

    Rendered fat could be fed to the birds in winter. Bones are great for making split pea soup.



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