Bacon is, in many households, a staple. Not only does it make a delicious addition to any weekend breakfast, but it’s also an incredibly versatile ingredient for spicing up a variety of dishes.
The unfortunate thing about bacon is that it doesn’t last long in the refrigerator. Once you’ve bought it, you must use it relatively quickly since it was likely frozen before reaching the store you got it from.
Alternatively, you might consider freezing it. After it’s frozen and you thaw it next time, you realize that you don’t need the whole package.
You decide to freeze the leftovers.
But is refreezing bacon safe? Let’s find out.
Is It Safe To Refreeze Bacon?
It is generally safe to refreeze bacon, which is good news. However, to make the refreezing process safe you need to thaw bacon properly in the first place.
You must also be sure to follow general food storage best practices when putting the bacon back in the freezer.
When Should You Avoid Refreezing Bacon?
Refreezing bacon isn’t usually a bad idea. However, there are occasions where you’re better off either cooking it or tossing it in the trash.
For example, if you’ve taken frozen bacon out and thawed it on the counter but it has been two hours or less since you took it out, your only safe option is to cook it. At this point, refreezing it would be unsafe and so would refrigerating it, as harmful bacteria would have already started to grow and multiply on the meat.
If you’ve taken it out but left it on the counter for more than two hours, though, your best bet is to simply throw it away. After two hours, the amount of bacteria that has developed on the bacon strip is going to be too substantial for even the cooking process to render safe – and this would be even worse if you then refroze and rethawed the bacon again. Yuck!
Additionally, if you’ve used hot water to defrost your bacon, you should cook it as soon as possible. The extra heat of warm water speeds along the process of bacteria development. This gives you a narrower safe window of time to have the meat on the counter before cooking.
Whilst it’s not necessarily harmful, you’ll also want to avoid refreezing bacon with signs of freezer burn. This is because freezer burn changes the taste and texture of meat.
What Happens When You Refreeze Bacon?
When you refreeze bacon, you’re ensuring that you can use it at a later date. However, you’re also entertaining the risk that your bacon could go through minor changes while in the freezer.
If your bacon has been in the freezer for a while, you might pop a piece into your mouth only to find that it tastes freezer burnt. More likely, though, is that you’ll add it into a dish and notice that it tastes saltier than usual.
When you freeze meat, the cellular structure within the muscle fibers is damaged. This happens because the meat is full of liquid, which expands to form crystals during the freezing process. These crystals are denser than water. This causes the cell membrane to break down and allowing the fluids that were within the meat to seep out.
Technically, the meat doesn’t get any saltier, but it can very well taste like it.
The texture of frozen bacon changes every time it’s frozen. This, again, is due to the water content within the meat and how it reacts to the freezing process.
As we said, freezing causes ice crystals to form, which damages the meat. When ice crystals form, liquid is absorbed and removed from the muscle tissues. So, every time the bacon is defrosted and refrozen, more ice crystals form. This damages the cellular structure of the muscle tissue whilst effectively drying the bacon out.
At the end of the day, bacon that has been refrozen more than once could end up being dry and crispy – but not in a pleasant, crispy-bacon-bits kind of way. Instead, it’s more like dried-out leather.
How To Safely Refreeze Cooked Bacon
Cooking your leftover bacon is generally the only safe option for those instances in which you opt to thaw uncooked bacon on the counter.
Once you’ve cooked your bacon, simply follow these steps to refreeze it.
- Line a baking pan with wax paper and arrange your cooked bacon in a single layer on the paper. Top with a second piece of paper followed by another layer of bacon and so on until all the bacon you’re looking to freeze has been laid out in the baking pan.
- Cover the last layer of bacon with wax paper and place into the freezer. Ensure that no bacon falls off or comes uncovered.
- After being in the freezer overnight, you can transfer your bacon to an airtight container or freezer bag to make for easier storage.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to use a baking pan or don’t have the room, you can refreeze bacon using the same method but in a freezer bag instead. If you’re unconcerned about your bacon sticking together, you don’t have to use the wax paper, either.
How To Safely Refreeze Uncooked Bacon
Refreezing uncooked bacon is just as simple as refreezing cooked bacon. When refreezing it, however, it’s important to remember that if it has been thawed on the counter, your best bet is to cook it before refreezing it.
If the package of bacon isn’t open, you can simply return it to the freezer. The unopened package will be enough to protect it as it refreezes.
However, if the package is open, you should transfer it to another package.
You could use an airtight container or freezer bag, or wrap the slices in plastic wrap with wax paper in between the layers. This method keeps them flat and also helps you to save space.
How Long Does Bacon Last In The Freezer?
Unopened bacon tends to have a very generous shelf-life in the freezer. In fact, in many cases, it can be safely frozen for up to 9 months. Open, uncooked bacon can last up to 6 months and cooked bacon lasts 1-2 months on average.
Of course, the shelf-life of frozen bacon will depend on how it was handled before freezing, the brand, the expiration date printed on the package, and a number of other factors.
Can Pre-Cooked Bacon Be Refrozen?
Pre-cooked bacon, much like its raw counterpart, can be refrozen using food handling best practices regarding storage.
For optimal safety, follow all the same guidelines as you would bacon that was raw when you received it.