Among meat enthusiasts, bacon (pork slab) is one of the most adored foods.
There are plenty of people out there who do not eat it for one reason or another. Suffice to say, there are many more people who absolutely adore the taste of crispy fried rashers (count me in)! In fact, it can easily become a part of any meal.
Whether you include it in your breakfast, lunch, or even dinner, it is a good idea to know exactly how long your bacon will last when it is not being put in a recipe.
As with many meats, bacon is going to last the longest when you keep it in the freezer, but not many people enjoy defrosting their food for their meals. So how long does bacon last? Read on to learn more.
How Long Will Your Bacon Last?
Bacon, much like ham, is a cured meat. This means that it lasts a bit longer than uncured meats. However, pay attention to the dates on your package to be absolutely sure.
Ultimately, the shelf life of rashers or pork slab depends on two things:
- Storage location
- Type of bacon.
For instance, bacon bits last considerably longer than strips. Cooked variety doesn’t last nearly as long as bacon bits, and fresh one doesn’t last as long as cooked type.
With that being said, it is probably a good idea to know exactly how long your rashers can last past its printed date. Check them out!
How Long does Unopened Bacon Last? (In the Fridge)
Unopened strips can last between 1 – 2 weeks when you put them in the fridge. This means you can probably expect to go through a standard size pack within this amount of time, so there is no need to worry about your meat becoming a waste.
Unopened bits of pork slab, on the other hand, can last for about 6 months in the fridge. This means you will have plenty of time to use them for your recipes if you are already going through another bag.
How Long Can You Keep an Opened Package of Bacon?
When you open your bacon, however, it becomes a different story. The shelf life shortens, so it is important to use it all in a timely manner once you open the package.
So, how long can you keep a package of bacon after opening?
Once opened, fresh, raw bacon lasts for approximately one week in the fridge, past the printed date.
After cooking, expect your cooked bacon to last just over a week, around 4 to 6 days, before it goes bad. To achieve this:
- Refrigerate cooked bacon by storing in airtight bags.
- Pat the strips dry with paper towel before storage.
- Squeeze out excess air in the bags before sealing.
Opened bacon bits still last notably longer than other forms – about six weeks in the fridge past the printed date.
On the other hand, never keep opened rashers out of the fridge. Bacteria multiplication is rife at room temperature. Only remove opened bacon from the fridge if you plan to use it immediately.
Can Bacon Go Bad in the Fridge?
Yes! Whereas storing bacon in the refrigerator is the best option, how you store it there also matters. Therefore, pork slab can go bad in the fridge when stored under unsuitable temperatures.
Ideal temperatures for storing bacon are:
- Uncooked: 4℃ (40℉) or below
- Cooked: 29℃ (85℉) or below
Storing Cured Versus Uncured Bacon
With the rising trend in uncured meats, there are many people out there who want to be able to eat their meals without having to worry about chemicals that are used to preserve the life of meat.
With that being said, the shelf life of uncured meat differs drastically. This means that you might have to take special measures when you are working with uncured pork slab.
Nowadays, most bacon is cured by default. This is done through wet curing by brining. As such, be cautious when you are looking for uncured variety.
Similar to the regular type, you should always make sure to keep your uncured pork slab in the fridge or freezer at all times.
Uncured bacon, or pork loin, is only going to last about one or two days in the fridge when unopened.
Thus, only purchase it when you plan on using it soon. Once it has been cooked, it lasts closer to a week, which is around the same time that raw type lasts in the fridge.
Uncured type lasts between six and eight months in the freezer, both cooked and uncooked. As long as you are on the lookout for freezer burn, frozen bacon is a keeper.
How Do You Extend the Shelf Life?
First things first, you should always make sure that the bacon is either in the fridge or the freezer when you are not actively cooking with it.
When storing bacon:
- Use tightly sealed containers. This prevents moisture and other contaminants from getting into it.
- Wrap the meat in foil to prevent juices from seeping through.
Extend the shelf life by doing the following:
As with many meats, you can always freeze your pork slab. At a constant freezing temperature of 0℃, raw bacon will last for about 6 months in the freezer.
On the other hand, cooked bacon keeps well for 3 – 4 months.
Apart from the usual curing methods like brining, smoking is another effective bacon preservation method.
It is also an easy do-it-yourself project. Smoking extracts moisture and imparts rich flavors into the meat.
Store smoked meat in a cool, dry, airy place.
Unopened smoked pork slab lasts up to 8 months in the freezer.
How to Spot Spoiled Bacon
If you are unable to read the printed date, moved it to another container, or just generally don’t know how old it is, you might be worried about how safe it is to eat.
Thankfully, as with many meats, it can be easy to tell when your pork slab has exceeded its time in your fridge.
Here is how:
More often than not, your senses will tell you that something is wrong before you munch on the rashers.
Most rotten meat has a pungent smell, which means that you will absolutely know when your fresh meat has begun to rot.
This might be a little bit more difficult when you are working with cooked variety, as that fresh meat smell isn’t as strong, but you will still be able to tell.
Change in Appearance
Another good way to check the freshness of your raw bacon is to simply look at it.
The outside will be dull, slimy, and it will smell absolutely rancid.
The typical red meat color will shift to a grey or brown color when the meat begins to spoil.
This is an obvious spoilage sign in both cooked and raw meat. Discard the meat immediately.
Despite being cured, fresh bacon is highly perishable as well as a source of food contamination. Knowing how long it lasts allows you to avoid wastage such as bulk buying. In addition, when storing, cover the meat well in airtight bags or wrap in tin foil.