When you cook bacon for your family, the idea of having leftovers might seem unlikely, but it does happen. If you happen to have leftover bacon, you might be wondering how long it will last and what steps you can take to make it last as long as possible.
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Understanding Proper Storage Techniques
It’s important to understand how to correctly store leftover bacon to reduce the risk of spoilage and ensure food safety for your loved ones. This will not only preserve the flavor of each strip but also guarantee that your friends and family can enjoy a delicious meal without getting sick.
How Long Does Cooked Bacon Last?
Regular bacon will last for up to five to seven days in the refrigerator. The USDA recommends refrigerating both raw and cooked bacon at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below for the best results. This temperature is low enough to minimize the risk of bacterial growth without causing freezer burn.
To ensure that cooked bacon lasts for almost a week, you should meet the following criteria:
- Store the fully cooked bacon properly.
- Keep it in the refrigerator the entire time.
- Make sure it’s not past its original expiration date.
Properly Storing Different Types of Cooked Bacon
The way you store your bacon can make a big difference in extending its shelf life. However, different types of bacon require different storage procedures. Here are some guidelines for storing common types of cooked bacon:
Regular bacon: After cooking delicious crispy bacon, let each slice cool completely. Then, refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container or wrap them in plastic wrap, removing as much air as possible.
Thick-cut bacon: If you prefer a thicker cut of bacon, such as Hatfield®’s Hickory Smoked Bacon (Extra Thick Cut), plastic wrap won’t provide enough coverage for proper storage. Instead, use a heavy-duty freezer bag or a few layers of wax paper. Thick bacon will last for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Bacon bits: Sliced-up, home-cooked bacon is a great addition to almost any meal. You can refrigerate bacon bits in an airtight container for a little under a week. They also freeze well and can last up to six months when stored correctly in the freezer.
Extending Shelf Life with Freezing
If you have more bacon leftovers than you can use within a week, freezing is an option to extend their shelf life. When properly frozen, cooked bacon can maintain its flavor and quality for about two to three months. However, it’s best to keep a close eye on frozen bacon after a few months of storage.
To defrost frozen bacon, the USDA suggests the following options:
Using the microwave: The quickest way to thaw bacon is by using a microwave. However, this method is best if you plan to re-cook the bacon right away. Microwaving can partially cook the bacon and introduce bacteria that can’t be destroyed.
Refrigerator thawing: Thawing bacon in the refrigerator takes longer, so plan ahead. Once fully defrosted, refrigerated bacon slices will be safe to use for up to seven days.
Cold water thawing: To speed up the process, thaw your bacon in a sealed, airtight container submerged in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the bacon is completely thawed. After thawing, your bacon should be re-cooked immediately.
Remember, never leave cooked bacon to thaw at room temperature, as it can lead to bacterial growth.
Signs of Spoiled Cooked Bacon
It’s important to recognize when cooked bacon has gone bad to avoid eating spoiled meat that can make you sick. Here are four signs that cooked bacon is beyond its shelf life:
Slimy texture: Before discoloration occurs, spoiled cooked bacon will have a slimy feel when touched. So, if your bacon feels slimy, it’s time to discard it.
Unusual odor: Fresh bacon or meat generally has a mild or no smell at all. Rancid meat, on the other hand, will smell “off” or strange, even if the additives and preservatives mask the smell to some extent.
Discoloration: Fresh bacon has a red or pink color, but meat that has gone bad will appear greenish or dull gray.
Mold or mildew: If you spot mold or tiny green dots on your bacon, it’s a clear indication that it has gone bad and should be thrown away.
Note that it’s never recommended to use a taste test to determine if meat has spoiled, as even a small bite can lead to illness.
Delicious Recipes to Use Up Leftover Bacon
When you find yourself with extra bacon, there are countless ways to incorporate it into meals for a quick upgrade. Here are some of our favorite bacon recipes to try:
Recipe 1: Bacon Fig Jam Crostinis With Brie Cheese
Make a simple appetizer using your leftover bacon, fig jam, baguette, olive oil, and brie cheese. This delicious and easy recipe can be ready in just 25 minutes, making it perfect for get-togethers with loved ones. The recipe can be easily adjusted to serve more people, so everyone can enjoy this delightful snack.
Recipe 2: Bacon Potatoes Au Gratin With Arugula
For a heartier option, try this creamy and delicious potato dish with bacon and fresh arugula. It can be your next main dish for the family or a perfect complement to your favorite sides. You can even make it ahead of time and reheat it when needed, making it ideal for busy weeks.
Recipe 3: Warm Bacon Dressing Over Green Beans and Shiitake Mushrooms
This flavorful appetizer combines green beans, mushrooms, and your preferred bacon variety for a dish that everyone will love. With just 25 minutes of preparation time, you can have enough for the whole family. Pair it with creamy potatoes, pasta, or roasted broccoli to elevate the meal.
Recipe 4: Asian Noodle Stir Fry With Bacon and Shrimp
For a unique twist, try this noodle stir fry recipe that combines bacon and shrimp. In just half an hour and with a few simple steps, you can impress your loved ones with crispy noodles and a burst of flavors.
Get High-Quality Bacon from Hatfield®
When it comes to bacon, not all products are created equal. If you’re looking for top-tier ingredients that lead to the best results, Hatfield® is here to help. We provide quality pork products, prioritizing animal care, and respecting our farmers, the environment, and our animals.
At Hatfield®, we aim to make mealtimes enjoyable and stress-free, so you can spend quality time with your family. Our flavorful bacon, hams, ham steaks, marinated pork, sausages, and hot dogs offer delicious options for any occasion.
If you’re ready to cook with irresistible bacon that will leave everyone wanting more, use our store locator to find Hatfield® products in a supermarket or grocery store near you.