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How Long Does Bacon Last? Can It Go Bad?

Though it’s not something most bacon lovers ever have to consider, there can come a time where bacon will begin to diminish in quality on its way to becoming rotten. We’ve never seen it in person, but we hear that it can happen. Perhaps you’ve bought half a pig’s worth of bacon at a heavily discounted rate and now you’re wondering if you can get through it all before it goes off. One option you have is that you can simply give it away in order to never have to witness it going bad. Alternatively, without having to make any sacrifice at all, we can show you how best to keep your bacon for long periods of time and how to tell when it is about to go bad. If you never want to have to chuck out bad bacon again, this I the info you’re after!

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Does Bacon Go Bad?

Even the most thoroughly cured varieties of bacon will inevitably go off at some point, whether refrigerated or frozen. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t make it last for an incredibly long time. By following the simple tips below, you will be able to keep your bacon fresh for as long as humanly possible.


How Do I Store Bacon?


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Given the high salt content and the fact that many bacon varieties are cured, it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to storing bacon. It is all too easy to just simply whack it into the fridge between uses, unsealed and unwrapped. Doing so is probably fine if you intend to consume the entire pack within a day or two, but even at that, you may still notice that it begins to lose a bit of quality. So, in order to keep bacon for as long as possible, here’s how it’s done.

Raw Bacon

Raw bacon, like any other raw meat, needs to be stored in the fridge. We prefer to keep our meats on the bottom shelf so that in case they leak, the whole fridge isn’t destroyed with meat juices. It rarely happens, but once it has happened to you one time, you’ll probably never let it happen to you again! The next thing to keep in mind is that the bacon is always sealed up again after it has been opened. If it hasn’t been, this can cause the bacon to dry out and lose its flavor much quicker. Another reason to keep it sealed is that the bacon can absorb other aromas that are present in the fridge. In some cases, this might be appealing, but in others, it may not be a hit. We’ve noticed that not all bacon comes in a resealable package, but freezer bags work just fine instead.

Cooked Bacon

Cooked bacon can go off much quicker than the raw stuff, so it is best to be a little more vigilant when it comes to storing it. If it is left exposed to the moisture and the odors that circulate around every fridge, it can end up tasting totally different than it should within a 24 hour period. So, to keep this from happening, the best thing to do is to keep it in an airtight container or in a freezer bag. Even wrapping it up in foil will prevent it from deteriorating if you don’t have any of these things to hand.

Shelf-stable Cooked Bacon

There are a few bacon manufacturers out there who produce a shelf-stable, ready to use bacon. If this is the variety you have purchased, it can indeed be kept in a kitchen cabinet or in the pantry. The only thing you really need to look out for is that it isn’t being subjected to excessive heat or direct sunlight. Naturally, as soon as the package has been opened it will need to be refrigerated at all times afterward. Simply reseal it and put it into the fridge.


Should You Refrigerate Bacon?


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No matter how salty or cured your brand of bacon is, it will decay rapidly if it is left out on the counter for any amount of time. So, even if you expect to use it all later on that day, your best bet is to keep it in the fridge.


Can You Freeze Bacon?

Though it is true that bacon will keep for a reasonably long time at fridge temperature, this may not be enough time for you if you have bulk bought. Luckily, bacon can be frozen relatively easily and won’t change much during the process, with the textures and flavors remaining relatively intact. The main trick with doing this is to not freeze raw bacon. By cooking it before freezing, the texture will remain much closer to resembling fresh bacon. Doing this will also save you time in the future as you can prep it in a way that you can set it aside in portions, cubed, with the fat trimmed off, or however you prefer it. When it comes time to use it, the best way to defrost it is to put whatever you need into the fridge a day before time. So, for convenience and an incredibly long shelf-life, this is probably the best method out there.


How Long Does Bacon Last?

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Andrey Starostin/

Raw Bacon

How long your bacon lasts really depends on how it has been stored. In the worst-case scenario, where the bacon has simply just been left out, it can begin to spoil in as little as 24 hours. As such, we can never recommend doing this as all sorts of bacteria can begin to develop even before this timeframe has elapsed. When you’re looking at raw bacon which has been consistently stored in the fridge and unexposed to the elements, the best-by date on the packaging is generally a reasonably accurate gauge of how long the bacon will last. Sometimes, the bacon may last a few days longer, but not too often. If it has been opened it won’t last as long – probably for only a week after the date it was first opened (or the best-by date, if that comes first).

Cooked Bacon

The shelf-stable variety of precooked bacon is actually surprisingly resilient in its unopened state. Provided it has been stored correctly, it isn’t all that unusual that it could last for up to a week after the best-by, or even longer in isolated cases. However, as soon as it is opened it needs to be refrigerated and used within 4 days. Likewise, bacon that you have cooked at home can last for up to 4 days if refrigerated and either wrapped or put in an airtight container. If you have opted to freeze your cooked bacon, though it won’t necessarily go bad, it will begin to lose all of its good qualities after a period of 2 months.


How Do I Make Bacon Last Longer?

The best technique that we have found to make bacon last longer is to cook it up and freeze it into portions. By doing so, you have convenient amounts of bacon at your fingertips for two months. What’s not to like about that?!


Signs That Your Bacon May Have Gone Off


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Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/


When it comes to identifying gone off bacon, you can really put all of your faith into your senses. The signs that bacon has gone bad are generally pretty severe even at the early stages, so you should be able to identify them right away. One of the early signs of spoilage is that the bacon will have started to take on a grayish hue. If you notice this, there is no need to go any further as it has definitely gone past its best. Another sign that your bacon has gone off relies on touch to identify it. Sometimes, lactic acid can build up and spoil your bacon. If this has happened, your bacon will feel disconcertingly slimy to the touch and should be discarded. After this, the next sign of spoilage will be the odor of the meat. Rotten bacon will smell absolutely awful, so you absolutely can’t miss this sign! The only other sign is mold, which also means that it is time for the bacon to go!

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