Are there many foods better than crisp, freshly cooked bacon? Conversely, is there much worse than bacon that has spoiled and gone bad? I can give you the answer to both of those questions – no!
Whether you eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, there’s a place for bacon. It works well as the ‘main event’ or part of a huge array of other recipes. It’s no surprise that 21% of Americans would eat bacon everyday for the rest of their lives if they could!
Chances are, you have some bacon in your fridge as you read this. Whilst there’s always a place for bacon, you may experience the same problem I frequently do – buying too much! As great as it is, you really shouldn’t eat bacon every day. So, what do you do when your bacon is close to expiry? How can you tell if that cooked bacon is bad?
Don’t worry. In this article I’ll show you how to spot when your bacon is on the turn. I’ll also explain how you can prolong its shelf life.
Let’s get started!
How Long Does Bacon Last?
Just like any other meat, bacon has a limited shelf life before it goes bad.
How long your bacon lasts depends on the type of bacon you bought, and whether it has been cooked or not.
In general, cooked bacon will last about a week to 10 days in the refrigerator. Alternatively it can be kept for 6 months in the freezer.
On the other hand, uncooked and opened bacon – also called raw or fresh – can be good for a week in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer, while unopened and uncooked bacon will last for 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator and 6 to 8 months in the freezer.
Canadian bacon has a much shorter shelf life than regular bacon. It lasts for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator or can be kept in the freezer for 4 to 8 weeks.
Other than that, most other bacon types such as pancetta, beef or turkey bacon have a shelf life similar to regular bacon.
How to Tell if Cooked Bacon is Bad
You may be tempted to eat that leftover bacon that’s been sitting around in your fridge for a while. Perhaps you think that the bacteria or viruses will die during the cooking due to the heat.
I would advise otherwise, because cooked bacon will definitely go bad over time and just like any other spoiled meat, it can potentially make you very ill.
Foodborne diseases should not be taken lightly and can cause a lot of distress to your body.
To prevent this, always store your bacon properly and consume it before it has gone bad.
Luckily, if you cannot trust the date on the packaging or can’t remember when you cooked it, you can always rely on your senses. Here are some of the telltale signs of spoilage in cooked bacon.
If your cooked bacon has gone bad, it will most likely have a different hue other than its normal pink or red meat color.
The lean parts of the bacon will be a faded greenish or greyish color. This is a good indication that, unfortunately, your cooked bacon has gone bad.
Also, the fat part of the bacon won’t be the usual white or yellow color, which is another indication of spoilage.
If the color of your bacon is off, discard it immediately.
If you get a whiff of an unpleasant and off-putting smell when you smell your bacon, it most likely has gone bad. Cooked bacon that hasn’t gone bad will smell pleasantly fresh and meaty.
If it smells sour, rancid, or rotten, throw it away.
If you think your cooked bacon might have gone bad but can’t figure it out by smelling or by its color, then try and feel it.
The difference in texture between fresh bacon and spoiled bacon is pretty noticeable.
If it’s gone bad, it will have a slimy, gooey, or sticky texture on its exterior.
Should this be the case, you should definitely throw it away and thoroughly wash your hands and any surfaces the spoiled meat came in contact with.
The last and probably the most noticeable indication of a spoiled bacon is mold.
If you see any green particles on your cooked bacon, it’s gone bad and has mold or organic growth on it, which is very dangerous to consume. Get rid of it immediately!
How to Store Cooked Bacon
It’s always best to know how to properly store your cooked or leftover bacon to get the best out of it and prevent food waste. Conveniently, storing cooked bacon is a pretty easy and straightforward process.
Ideally, you should refrigerate leftover cooked bacon in an airtight container immediately after eating. This way, it will keep as fresh as possible. It’s important to use a container with a tight seal to keep out any moisture and bacteria that can potentially contaminate your bacon or make it stale.
Other than that, this is all you need to do to properly store your cooked bacon in the refrigerator.
What About Uncooked Bacon?
If it’s unopened, storing uncooked bacon is as simple as popping it in the fridge until you use it. On the other hand if you’ve opened it and want to keep it fresh, wrap it tightly with wax paper or aluminum foil. Then, pop it in an airtight container and put it back in the fridge until needed. This will ensure that the bacon doesn’t dry out.
Can you Freeze Cooked Bacon?
Want bacon to hand at all times, but don’t want to run the risk of it going bad before you use it? Fortunately, there is a solution – yes, you can freeze cooked bacon!
However, you should keep in mind that it will degrade in quality over time. Because of this, it’s very important to know how to freeze cooked bacon properly. This will help it to retain as much moisture and deliciousness as possible.
Here is everything you should know when freezing your cooked bacon.
How to Freeze Cooked Bacon
There are two main reasons for freezing bacon. Either you want to cook a big batch of bacon to keep a stash in your freezer or you just want to freeze your leftover bacon to eat later. Either way, the method you will be using is the same.
To freeze your cooked batch of bacon or your leftover bacon, line a baking pan with wax paper and arrange a layer of your cooked bacon. You can add multiple layers if you need to, as long as you separate each layer with wax paper. Place the pan in the freezer, and leave overnight.
The next day, once your bacon is thoroughly frozen, transfer the pieces into a freezer bag. Be sure to squeeze all of the air out of the bag before freezing, as this helps to prevent freezer burn.
Cooking Bacon in Bulk to Freeze
Want to cook a big batch of bacon before freezing? The best way to do it is in the oven.
Begin by preheating the oven to 400° F.
Line an oven tray or a sheet pan with aluminum foil and arrange the bacon in a single layer, making sure that they are not touching each other. If you like extra crispy bacon, you can put a wire rack underneath them to allow air flow.
Bake until the bacon is cooked to your liking. This could take 10 to 30 minutes depending on your oven and the cut of bacon you are cooking.
Let it cool and your bacon is ready for the freezer.
How Long Does Cooked Bacon Last in the Freezer?
Even though it will slightly differ based on the type of bacon you have, a good rule of thumb is that cooked bacon lasts 4 to 6 months in the freezer.
How to Reheat Cooked Bacon
All forms of bacon are delicious, even the reheated ones. It’s always better to have bacon rather than no bacon, after all!
By the same token, you may have some leftover bacon that you have refrigerated to eat later and wondering about the best way of reheating to maintain its quality as much as possible.
Unfortunately, you’re probably familiar with the dread of reheating our leftover bacon just to turn itinto a leathery or burnt mess. However, this doesn’t have to be the case!
There are three methods you can use to properly reheat your leftover bacon.
Although this is not the best method, it’s certainly convenient and fast enough to whip up for a delicious breakfast. Here is how:
- Put your non-stick pan or skillet on the stove to heat up.
- Once your pan is heated sufficiently, throw the bacon in, and arrange in one layer to prevent sogginess.
- Let the bacon cook for a minute or two and flip them using a kitchen tong or a fork.
- Let the other side cook for a minute to be sure that it’s equally heated up.
- After a total of 2 to 3 minutes, take them out and serve whilst sizzling hot, and enjoy!
If you’re really hungry and want some bacon on your plate as soon as possible, this is the method to go. But keep in mind that you can only reheat a plate of bacon with this method and it will likely be on the drier side.
- Arrange your bacon in a microwave-safe plate, preferably try to keep them in a single layer to avoid sogginess.
- Cover the plate with paper towels to prevent them from drying out as much as possible.
- Reheat for 30 seconds to a minute depending on the thickness of the bacon.
- Once it’s done, take the pieces out. Transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to drain them off a little, and enjoy them while they are hot!
If you have got the time, you can always reheat your leftover bacon in the oven. This way, you can conveniently heat up a whole batch. Here’s how to do it:
- First things first, preheat your oven to 350° F.
- While your oven is preheating, arrange your bacon on a baking pan, preferably in a single layer, and cover it with aluminum foil.
- Put it in the oven and let it cook for 5 to 20 minutes depending on your oven and the thickness of your bacon.
- After 5 to 10 minutes, take a look to see if they are heated up to your liking.
- When they’re done, take them out and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to get rid of excess grease.