A gravy separator is a kitchen tool which is designed to separate the fat from pan drippings, leaving the flavorful juices behind. You may also hear a gravy separator referred to as a fat separator, which is actually a more accurate term, as gravy does not necessarily have to be involved. Many kitchen supply stores carry this useful kitchen item, especially in the fall, when cooks are gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas roasts.
There are a number of different styles of gravy separator. The simplest and probably most efficient is a specially designed pitcher with a spout which connects on the bottom half of the pitcher. To use the gravy separator, cooks pour pan juices and drippings in and allow them to sit until the fat rises to the top. Then, cooks can tip the gravy separator to pour out the juices, while will emerge first since the spout is on the bottom of the tool. Some companies include a filter in the spout to catch large chunks in the drippings.
One of the major advantages to this type of gravy separator is that it has the potential to be very large, accommodating drippings from a big pan or multiple roasts. It also comes with volume measurements, allowing people to know how much liquid they have to work with. When purchasing a fat separating pitcher, remember to get one which is heat-resistant and dishwasher safe, as you will be pouring very hot juices into it, and you will want to be able to run it through a dishwasher to remove the grease which would otherwise build up inside.
You can also find gravy separators built into basting bulbs, which can be handy for quick work, but not so ideal when you want to get a lot of liquid. Several companies also make specialized ladles which can be used to ladle the fat from a bowl or pan of drippings. Both of these methods tend to get messy, however, and they will not remove nearly as much fat as a pitcher.
In addition to being useful for holiday roasts, a fat separator can also come in handy for clarifying soups and stews, or drippings from pans on the stovetop. The pitcher comes in a range of sizes to accommodate various needs, and many have lids to protect their contents.
If you need to separate fat from a pan of drippings in a hurry and you don't have a gravy separator, stick it in the freezer for a few minutes, just until the fat floats to the top and congeals. Then, you can gently peel it off and discard it, leaving the usable drippings behind.