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So what is a “Bacon Press” and how do you use it?
The idea behind the best bacon press is to use the weight of something like cast iron to keep the strips of bacon flat while they are frying up in your pan.
It also cooks better on some areas, and not so much on others.
In other words, it cooks unevenly.
Now for your home made breakfast, this isn’t a big deal. But if you’re a restaurant, or maybe a small B&B and want your breakfasts to look “professional”, you will probably want your bacon to stay a little flatter while it’s cooking.
So you want a kind of bacon flattener or weight.
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Or you may just want your kids to have a perfectly made BLT with the strips of bacon evenly spaced across the lettuce and fill up the entire space on the bread rather than having to play around and break up the bacon and add it to your sandwich like a mosaic.
So enter the bacon press.
What a bacon press really is, is just a regular iron or meat press you’d use for hamburgers or any other food you want to press in order for it to cook faster or hold a specific shape. You’ll see names like Cast Iron Bacon Press, Grill Press, Iron Press, bacon weight, these are all interchangeable and can be used for pretty much anything.
So yes, you can use your bacon press as a hamburger press, or what ever other food you don’t want contorting in to some abstract art on your plate.
So why have one of these weights just for bacon?
Simple, so you’re not adding other flavors to your press, or you just love bacon as much as we do.
Which Press to buy?
I’m surprised how many presses there really are available just on Amazon alone (which is where I bought mine). I have a few different presses, the pig one I bought just because I thought it was cool. But otherwise, the others I bought to use, and even abuse. You can also get them at Walmart or most off-line stores.
The Best Bacon Press
To be honest, practically any press with a little weight to it should do fine. I mean, they are a hunk of flattened metal. And that’s about it. The only thing you need to really think about is the shape of the press and its weight. I mean, most of us are frying up our bacon in a round pan, yes? So a square press might not reach all of the bacon. But a round one will.
If you’re lucky enough to be cooking in a restaurant on a nice large grill, then a square one is just fine.
And just in case you’re dying to have only the very best, or you just want my opinion or recommendation, here are a few presses that I know if you purchase, they will last you and most likely 5 generations of your family. And they are really inexpensive, like usually under $20 for the really top shelf ones. Okay, so here are a few recommendations…
This Bellemain is by far my number ONE PICK! It has a nice weight to it and is manufactured with heavy-duty cast iron, it’s extremely inexpensive, it looks great and it does exactly what it’s meant to do perfectly. And I was writing about earlier, it is a round one, so all you home cooks are best off using this round bacon press.
Another aspect I like about this particular press is that it has a wooden handle, again, perfect for home cooks. The handle is firmly secured and doesn’t move at all. Just don’t place this one in the oven!!!You can see my next choice if you need to do that.
This thing should last you a lifetime, and then a few hundred years more if you take care of it correctly. In fact, it has a 3 year warranty, like you should ever need it. But it’s nice to know if it arrives from Amazon or where ever with a defect, they’ll replace it for you no problem.
This is 3 pounds all by itself, so you don’t need to “press” the press. It’s enough weight to just place it on your bacon and leave it. And it measures 8.5 x 8.5 x 3.2 inches, perfect for those 9 inch or larger frying pans. (Fry your bacon in a cast iron skillet for the very best bacon possible!) And the handle is 5 inches by one inch round.
In case you want to season your press, there are concise seasoning instructions printed right on the side of the box.
And no, not so important is simply the look of the press. It is a quality looking product and it looks nice sitting on your counter, or somewhere where people can see it. So show it off, be proud of your new press!
This is without a doubt the one press I know you should get IF you want to use a square one, or you need to place it in the oven. And here’s why…first, it is completely metal. All of it, including the handle. It’s also heavy and is built to last forever. It kind of reminds me of an old iron, or a “bacon iron” LOL!
It measures 6-3/4 by 4-1/2 inches which is plenty large enough to cover all of your bacon. And you can pre-heat this so that when you lay it on your bacon, it is cooking from both sides at the same time, a real time saver.
And this one you can use in the oven, or even while you’re grilling outdoors. Just be careful to use a stove mitt or towel as the handle WILL GET HOT!
And in case you’re not familiar with Lodge, the company has been around for over 100 years. So they are a pretty safe bet. And all of their presses are Made in the USA.
The only downside to this particular model is that you need to assemble it yourself, meaning put on the handle. But a screwdriver and a few screws and you’re done. Very simple really.
One last caveat, get this at Amazon, it’s definitely cheaper than the company website!
Clear Glass bacon press?
Another press I want to let you know about, although I do not own this one, is the Carol Wright Clear Glass bacon press.
Yes, see through glass. So you can see how it is cooking.
Pretty cool idea and all, I just don’t know if there is enough weight to it.
I’m sure there is, but I prefer the cast iron ones for frying bacon in a pan. But this may be a great solution for those of you wanting to cook bacon in a microwave and you have a round plastic or microwave safe pan.
I’d also not like to clean this thing every time either. With the cast iron, all I do is rinse off all the bits. But this one I think you’d need to clean it a bit better.
Cast Iron Bacon Press
Most bacon presses are made of commercial grade cast iron and weigh at least 2 pounds as a minimum. The reason is simple, a cast iron bacon press lasts forever, it’s very heavy, and it’s very easy and cheap to produce.
And again, it will last forever if you treat it right and take care of it. It’s literally something you should be able to pass on for generations to come.
Taking proper care of your cast iron bacon press isn’t difficult at all. Just make sure you start with a solid well built one and all should be easy after that. You can keep stored on a paper towel with a little bacon grease on it so it doesn’t pit or loose its seasoning.
I’m surprised at how many bacon presses there are to choose from. And I’ve listed my favorites above with some pros and cons.
But these weights are extremely inexpensive. So seriously, get two if you want.
Now understand when you’re buying a bacon press from Amazon or Walmart or wherever, you will usually have the option to buy a seasoned” or non-seasoned press.
I suggest you buy a seasoned press since that should mean the company making your new press has oiled and “cooked” it already.
But…whether I buy a seasoned or un-seasoned press, I always season it myself as well.
Now why would I do that?
Well, I have found that even though companies “say” they seasoned the press, “their” seasoning process is often pretty lame.
Like a speck of oil and some heat. That’s all.
And that’s not at all the best way to season your new press.
But don’t worry, it’s super simple to season cast iron with bacon grease.
Here’s what I personally do…
Buy a seasoned press. Then rinse it off under warm water to get any factory packaging debris off of it.
Nor use soap. Your press is like a cutting board, it should never be washed with soap.
Once my brand new press is dry, I grab some left over bacon grease and rub it generously all over the metal parts of the press.
Now you can use lard, coconut oil or flaxseed oil if you don’t have any bacon grease on hand. But why use something that isn’t the exact thing we want, bacon flavors!
Once my press is well greased, I place mine on my outdoor grill with the cover down and “cook it” for around 45 minutes.
Yes, I have seen presses with plastic handles. Why they would do that I have no idea!
Once you have it cooked, turn off the heat and wait for it to completely cool off.
Now I’m a bacon fanatic, so that means my bacon press has a nice little home of it’s own. I simply took one of the Danish Cookie tins and placed a few paper towels on the bottom of it. Then I took one paper towel and added a little regular cooking oil on it and placed it in the can with the others. Then when I am done with my press, I just lay it face down on the oiled paper towel.
This way it is always oiled and never rusts or has any other problems. Just place the lid on it and store.
If you use you press at least once a week, then the tin isn’t even needed. It’s just a good idea to use it if you store the press for weeks at a time.
So how do you use it?
Like I said, the idea behind any press is weight. This goes for any food. If you’re using a press, you either want to control its shape, like with bacon, or you want to make it cook quicker, like with a hamburger.
And yes, you can use a press for any type of food you want. There are no undercover “Press Police” around that’ll fine you for using a bacon press for your hamburgers too, lol!
So to use your press, simply cook as you always would, just right when you place the bacon in your pan, place (lay on top of) the press on top if it. You don’t need to push down or hold the press. The weight of it will do the job. That’s the point of the press, its weight.
If you just placed a flat piece of something on your bacon and it didn’t really weigh much, it may make your bacon a little straighter, but it won’t give you the same results as a press will.
Cooking the perfect bacon
Here are a few tips for cooking great bacon…first, take your bacon out of the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before you will cook it. This is the same if you want to cook a great steak, and it helps with the way the fat cooks within the meats. And yes, it really does make a difference.
Then grab a pan that has enough room to hold all of the bacon you want to cook without needing to crowd your strips or overlap them. You should be using a heavy pan, cast iron skillets are great for this and heat evenly and at a good rate of speed.
Place your pan on the stove and then add your warmed bacon to your pan. Both things should be around the same temperature.
Now add the bacon press on top of the strips and light/turn on your stove. Don’t make the temperature too hot, use a medium flame or a medium temperature. Personally I love natural gas for my cooking.
Once your strips are finished cooking, take them out and for best results, place on a wire rack to let them cool off and allow any fat to run off of them.
Let cool a little and then devour! You now have beautiful bacon ready to decorate any sandwich or plate whether a greasy spoon diner or a 5 star hotel.
Tip: If you want to make bacon bits, it’s a lot easier to use flattened bacon than the normal cooked bacon you get from just throwing it in a pan.
Other ways to use your press
A door stop? Nah, just kidding. But…you can use it like I said before for any meat you want. Maybe you want to drain a little of the grease out of a hamburger before you take it out of the pan, take your bacon press and place it on your burger and push down for about 30 seconds, you just made a healthier option burger. Or use it to make tortillas. Bacon presses (or any for that matter) come in round, square and even pig shapes. So perfect for tortillas.
Or use it to make pininis. Or any grilled sandwich you want. Great for grilled cheese sandwiches!!! Just add a few bacon strips and YUM!
How to clean it?
Never use soap or anything that could scratch the surface of your press. First off, soap takes away the “seasoning” that all presses should have done to them. So don’t do it. Also, there should be no real reason to need to give it a serious clean. Just run it under hot water and use a normal kitchen sponge to clean it off. if it feels like it still has a little grease on it, good!
If you’re super paranoid about germs or whatever, just pre-heat your pan next time with the press in the pan by itself. I promise, anything on it will die.
And you never want to scratch the press, even if it’s tiny little scratches, because each scratch will allow food to stick to it. And taking a press off of your food and half your food sticking to the press is really annoying. So keep it nice and smooth.
And that’s about it as far as bacon presses go. I think I have covered their use, how to use them and which ones are worth owning. If you have any questions or comments, I’m always willing to chat with a fellow baconer! So just leave a comment below here on BaconCamp.org.