Bacon, one of the most popular food items over the last decade, has always been an important choice to American. There are plenty of people who can’t imagine beginning their day without having a slice of fried bacon for breakfast.
Most importantly, bacon seems to be a perfect pair of all kinds of food that you can possibly imagine, such as hot dogs, bread, smoothie, … However, just like any other foods, bacon can go bad.
Therefore, we want to provide a dedicated article to fully answer these questions: “how long does bacon last?” and “how to properly store bacon” so that you can enjoy your slice of slices of bacon without worrying getting sick.
But, before jumping to the shelf life, let’s start with the basics: what is bacon?
So What’s Bacon?
As you probably know, bacon is a side pork. It’s a cured meat from the side or back of the pig. It is the smoked bacon that people usually use to cook at home.
The fat in bacon provides its flavor and texture when cooked. Not only it allows the bacon become more flavorful but also makes it more crispy and tender.
There are 2 different types of bacon: wet curing and dry curing. Firstly, in order to make dry-cured bacon, they tend to rub a mixture of salt and sugar, which works slowly through the meat. As the result, the bacon tends to be drier, reduces moisture and gives the high intensity of flavors.
In contrary, the wet-cured bacon is soaked in special liquid brine (a mixture of salt and water solution) for roughly 2 days before 2 weeks of maturing. This results in a pretty salty flavor, more subtle and distinctively meaty texture in the bacon.
Does Bacon Go Bad? If So, How Long Does Bacon Last?
Without a doubt, bacon has a shelf life and there is no denying to that. Depending on numerous factors such as packaging, storage condition, kinds of cured bacon, the shelf life of bacon tend to vary.
Firstly, an unopened package usually lasts up to 1 – 2 weeks beyond the printed date if it is stored perfectly with proper packaging. You can safely freeze the bacon up to 6 – 8 months. Practicing proper preservation techniques will definitely help you prevent food poisoning.
The freshly opened bacon, however, only lasts 1 week in the fridge after it pasts the “sell by” date with proper packaging and storage condition. Last but certainly not least, the cooked bacon can be safely consumed for 7 – 10 days.
Although, this shelf life information is reliable, there are various factors that can affect your bacon. Please consider our advice as an opinion and eat responsibly.
What Does Use By Date On Bacon Pack Mean
When shopping in grocery store, you probably notice the expiration date (or use by date) printed on the packages.
The date indicates that customers should eat the products within this period of time. Otherwise, the food will go expired and might be bad to consume.
There isn’t “use by date” or “expiration date” on the pork’s meat, so instead, you want to look for the “sell by date” printed on the packages whenever you buy fresh bacon from the store.
Due to its differences, you might safely use the bacon even after its sell by date has lapsed.
How to Know if Bacon Has Gone Bad?
First and foremost, you want to check the expiry date on the packet. If the date is met, the bacon is not safe to use. It’s highly recommended to use the bacon within 7 days of purchase.
The easiest way to test whether your bacon is good to use is to carefully smell it. It’s pretty straightforward as if the bacon smells weird, unpleasant, like rotting as it shouldn’t be, don’t use it. If the bacon smells like fresh meat, then it’s not spoiled to cook.
It’s very important as it can get you food poisoning. So if you have just a tiny little doubt about how weird it smells, don’t risk eating it at all. It isn’t that worthy of your health.
The other method is to observe those slices of bacon. Fresh and good bacon tends to have bright and pinkish color with pale-yellow fat. If the bacon has green dots or sheen around the meat, then it’s probably bad to use.
You can also feel the bacon to decide whether it’s good to use. Fresh bacon is usually not slimy to touch. If it feels slimy, the bacon has gone bad to use. Make sure to throw it out.
How to Store Your Bacon Properly?
So you have known whether your bacon is good, it’s time to learn how to store it properly.
I highly recommend you to look for the least fat bacon and I couldn’t say this enough, always check the sell-by date when purchasing.
Here are 5 easy ways to preserve your bacon so it doesn’t get spoiled.
1 – Wrapping it Up
In order to preserve the bacon, first, you lay foil or wax paper on top the sheet pan. Then, lay the bacon on top the paper and put the baking sheet in the freezer.
2. Adding Salt to the Bacon
Bacteria requires water and moistures to grow. By adding salt, you can prevent bacteria growing on the bacon as they reduce the moisture as low as possible.
You can also add nitrites to stop the growth of bacterium Clostridium botulinum and prevent bacon getting spoiled.
3. Vacuuming Seal
You can put the sliced bacon in the vacuum-seal plastic bag, then put it the freezer. It will be safe to cook or use up to 1 week after the sell-by date.
The frozen bacon can be stored up to 6 months, but the taste might not be as good as the fat will turn rancid. Once the seal is open, you should use the bacon within 7 days.
4. Cooking it
This might be the easiest and most convenient way to store the bacon. After cooking the bacon, you can use it in any recipe.
The main key is to cook the meat until it’s soft, but not entirely cooked. Then drain it and let it cool down. You can put it in a sealable plastic bag and store in the fridge up to 5 days. If you want an easier way to cook bacon, consider using a bacon cooker to speed up the process.
What Will Happen to Your Health If You Eat Spoiled Bacon
As some of us might not be able to tell whether the bacon is bad, here are the results of eating spoiled bacon to your health. Firstly, the bacon will turn sour if the bacteria grows on it. Not only it will give you an unpleasant taste and smell, but also it can cause nausea and vomiting. Even worse are chest-pain, food poisoning and fever.
If you eat raw bacon, you can get the bacterial infection due to contamination during the packaging process. This results in diarrhea, eye swelling, headache, muscle aches, fever and even death.
These symptoms don’t affect immediately until 2 or 8 weeks after eating bad bacon. So, if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, you must consult your medical doctor immediately.
Related: How Long Does Cream Cheese Last?
In conclusion, just like other foods, bacon can certainly go bad especially the cooked one. The amount of fat in bacon gives it bad reputation as it causes high cholesterol, which is bad for your health. However, there are some studies proving that bacon is actually healthy to consume.
Now that you know the shelf life of bacon, you should take preventive measures and store your bacon properly using the methods mentioned in this article.
Don’t forget to check the sell-by date whenever purchasing bacon packets. Please eat responsibly!