The residue formed by frying or cooking just about anything builds up in the pan or skillet after awhile. The longer you wait between pan scrapings or cleanings, the thicker it gets. It is best described as “crud”. It varies from crusty to viscous, but is at its finest when it is a little of both.
There is a lot to be said for the pleasures associated with finding a skillet that has been sitting on a stovetop for several days, and no hint as to what was the last thing cooked in it. Well seasoned pan crud is a build up of oils used for frying many different items such as: bacon, hamburgers, chicken, fish, potatoes, ‘possum, squirrel, squash, green tomatoes, okra, and (when the budget allows for extravagance) potted meat.
Over time, these add tremendous flavor and texture to the crud. Also, by not cleaning the skillet out between frying episodes, you don’t have to add as much new lard each time. This will save money which you will need to pay the deductibles on your medical insurance (it is a good idea to make sure all life insurance premiums are current before using pan crud for anything).
Color varies, usually from dark brown to black, but some excellent pan cruds will be gray with white spots. This is okay, and normally just indicates a higher fat content (which makes it taste gooder) unless the white spots are fuzzy. If the pan crud appears to be growing a beard, or taking on shades of green, you might want to place it in an oven for a period of time, and at a temperature that might render it sterile. Be careful here, because the amount of time, and temperatures required, based on what modern science has learned in the past few years, could melt your stove, or at least stink the place up a bit.
Pan crud should be collected in a bucket, and kept handy. I am tearful when I think of how often folks discard this wonderful byproduct due to insufficient education. There are almost unlimited uses for pan crud. Every kitchen and workshop should keep ample supplies on hand.
Besides polishing silver, stainless steel ware and cuttlery, it’s great for keeping the worm of your shop vice lubricated, and is a good rust inhibitor for tools. It only takes a dab to make hubcaps shine like a diamond in the south end of a north-bound duck, and is perfect for dipping chisels and drill bits being re-tempered after sharpening too fast. Be cautious of flames while doing this unless you intend to burn down your shop. By adding a little pumice or sand, pan crud serves as an excellent waterless hand cleaner. Just make sure you use plenty of soap and water afterwards.
Pan crud, though often used as a topping for entrees, casseroles, and desserts, can also serve as a main course all by itself, but only if you’re absolutely starving. Some folks use it as a salad dressing, but I’ve found it makes lettuce too slippery to stay on the fork. One of the more interesting glazes for baked foods is pan crud mixed with a little fruit juice (or old crayons) for added color.
Substituting with pan crud sure comes in handy between paydays when going back to the grocery store is not economic. It has been used as a replacement for gelatin, mayonnaise, butter, and even ice cream. You can also add a spoonful or so to grits or oatmeal as a way to stretch things out when you have company. If you are equipped with a cast-iron stomach, no homemade soup or stew is complete without it. It’s perfect for adding the magic touch to a pot of chili, and nothing is better for removing water spots from wine glasses.
When the menu calls for appetizers, pan crud by itself can be used as a dip for chips and crackers, and can be served hot or cold. Because it is so easy to spread, you can use it as a filling for celery sticks, and pitted olives.
Use it as a shaving cream when it’s not quite time for a new blade, and pan crud is great for slicking back your hair. It takes a lot of the drag and pull out of the comb. It will waterproof your shoes as well as shine them, and is particularly helpful when used that way if you’re trying to teach a dawg to heel. Those of you with small children may recognize the desirable way pan crud helps to control diaper rash, but always check with your pediatrician in case your child doesn’t have the hide of a rhinoceros.
It can be used as a skin cream for those who have leathery skin, but don’t get carried away. Afterward, dress with loose-fitting old clothes no longer intended to be worn when receiving guests, or attending public events. If you intend to wear your good clothes, I’d leave it alone (see warning below about using on skin without first checking with your doctor or funeral director).
Some other (but not all) uses for Pan Crud:
* Bird feed suet–particularly for crows, vultures, and buzzards. Also, a good coat of pan crud on the bird feeder itself will make it a bit slippery for those sunflower stealing pesky squirrels;
* Transmission fluid additive–increases “slippance” to remind you it’s time for an overhaul;
* Decorative candles–blending pan crud with paraffin is a good way to spruce up holiday candles, especially if the holiday is “Halloween”;
* Head Lice repellent–coat the hair and scalp thickly so as to cause the lice to slide ride off onto the floor. Sleep standing up, or use disposable pillowcases.
* Gasoline additive–makes your car smoke like it has an old diesel engine;
*Diesel fuel additive–makes you think: “tastes like chicken” every time you crank it up, but it tends to clog injectors;
* Fly paper–flies may not stick to it, but you’ll be able to track them easier;
*Radiator coolant–keeps water pump lubricated (note: crud that is primarily from fish fryers is not recommended);
* Ski and surfboard lubricant (the bottoms only-never put it on the tops);
* Makeup base–stretches your cosmetic budget. Adds flavor to lipstick, and makes nail polish shine (some cruds can also be used as nail polish remover, and even nail remover). Some football players use it to put those dark, light absorbing streaks under their eyes, but never over the eyes: sweat can cause it to run, and blur your vision;
* Furniture Scratch Remover–hides ugly scratches on coffee tables and other fine wood chewed on by dawgs and chilluns. But don’t cake it on too thickly, ’cause it’ll stink up the room;
* Flea Repellent–Put a dab on the bottom of the flea’s feet, and watch him repel quickly down whatever he tries to stand on;
* Massage therapy–A great way to spend the day at the spa, but smell like you’ve spent it slaving over a hot stove. It is a deception, but your spouse should be used to that by now;
* Windshield cleaner–softens caked-on love bugs, but may inhibit visibility. Parked cars only-never use while driving;
* Humidifier oil–Makes every room in your house smell like “supper is ready”;
*Corrosion retardant–for battery terminals, and other electronic connections. Caution: some pan cruds are highly flammable, and should not be used where there is a chance of electric spark. Also, it may attract mice and other rodents and encourage them to chew insulation;
Pan Crud is NOT recommended to be used as (not to be presumed to be a complete list):
* Carburetor cleaner–could attract fire ants, and has also been attributed to significant carbon buildup;
* Antibiotic ointment–but it can be used as an anti-antibiotic whenever germs are desirable. Because of this, intimate or personal hygiene uses are also discouraged;
* Under arm deodorant–especially if you intend to wear clothes later. Crud stains are most difficult to remove from linens;
* Eye drops–can lead to eye infections, and even total blindness especially if it’s still very hot when applied;
* Coffee creamer–unless you intend to use the coffee for catfish bait;
*Any laundry application–unless you want spots and stains to grow larger rather than smaller;
* Resurfacing or cleaning driveways, sidewalks, or any other pavement–unless you intend to use it as a traction inhibitor, then it works fine.
* Lubricant or cleaner for motorcycle saddles and tires–anybody who wouldn’t understand this should never get within three feet of a motorcycle (see “traction inhibitor” in above comment);
* Sunscreen–remember, pan crud is a “cooking” oil base, so it will have an SPF factor of zero.
* Perfume–well, unless your intent is to attract ‘possums.
* Using pan crud to lubricate footballs is a bad idea. I think it’s okay to put it on face guards, because you ain’t supposed to touch those, anyway.
* Sniffing pan crud is an abomination. Well, a quick whiff to make sure it ain’t too fishy maybe, but don’t inhale!
* Although rubbing your feet with pan crud might make it easier to put your socks on, it could cause the tops of the socks to sag, thus allowing your ankles to get sunburned;
Warning: if you are allergic to botulism or other kinds of food poisoning, you might want to check with your physician (or the owner of a nearby funeral home) before taking pan crud internally, or before applying it to skin, hair, open wounds, or exposed bone. Some folks are just not as tough as others, and the best thing to do is to go ahead and admit it. But if it is your custom to eat at the same table with coyotes, cockroaches, jackals, wharf-rats, crows, hyenas, vultures, maggots, and buzzards, I wouldn’t worry about it at all. In fact, if that is the case, I would encourage you to consider a career in politics.