If you love bacon, you’re probably familiar with the delicious bacon grease that there always seems to be plenty left in the pan.
Or you may already be an avid recycler of bacon drippings, adding it to later dishes to give them that smoky bacon and salty flavor.
Unfortunately, sometimes there’s more grease than meals to flavor it with. As the bacon residues and bits of bacon pile up in your jar, you may begin to wonder, “Does bacon grease go bad?”
That’s why understanding its shelf life and storage is essential. And that’s where this article steps in. You’ll learn all about the dos and don’ts of bacon grease storage.
Read on to see how to keep your bacon grease as long as possible.
How Long Does Bacon Grease Last?
When you’re frying up that delicious bacon, you’re left with a golden pool of bacon grease. It’s tempting to save it for later, but how long does it really last?
Homemade bacon grease should be used within a week when stored in the fridge below 40°F. For longevity, keep it in a sealed container to avoid air exposure. Store-bought versions offer better shelf stability below 80°F. Regardless of the type, if it has an unpleasant odor or looks off, it’s best to discard it for safety.
Bacon grease is primarily fat, which is good news for its shelf life. Bacteria struggles to thrive in pure fat, so unlike many foods, it doesn’t spoil in the traditional sense.
However, it can become rancid.
Rancidity is a result of light, heat, or air interacting with the bacon fat molecules, breaking them down over time. The more your bacon grease is exposed to these elements, the faster it can turn rancid.
Store your bacon grease in a tightly-sealed, opaque container for optimal freshness. This minimizes its exposure to those rancidity-causing elements.
Here’s a quick breakdown of its longevity based on storage location and type:
Homemade Bacon Grease:
- By the Stove: I don’t recommend it due to the constant exposure to heat.
- In the Fridge: Best used within a week.
- In the Freezer: You can maintain its quality for up to six months if you take out only what you need.
Store-Bought Bacon Grease:
- On the Shelf: Many store-bought versions, like “Bacon Up,” are more shelf-stable than homemade grease. However, it’s recommended to store them at temperatures below 80°F.
- In the Fridge: While not always necessary, refrigerating store-bought bacon grease can give it a firmer consistency. Once opened, keeping it in the fridge is a good idea to ensure its longevity.
- In the Freezer: Like homemade grease, store-bought bacon grease can be frozen to extend its shelf life.
Remember, whether you’re using homemade or store-bought bacon grease, always check for signs of rancidity before use. Proper storage is key to enjoying its rich flavor safely.
How To Tell If Bacon Grease Is Bad
So you’re wondering whether that glass jar of bacon grease is still good to use, here’s what you should check:
- Expiration Dates: If you’ve got store-bought bacon grease, always give that “Use by” date a glance. Even though it’s more shelf-stable, it’s still got a limit.
- Mold: Now, it’s pretty rare for mold to pop up in bacon grease. But if you’ve been a bit careless, using damp or dirty spoons, you might just give mold a chance. Always use a clean utensil!
- Color Change: Good bacon grease has this lovely golden color. If you spot any blue, green, or brown shades sneaking in, it’s a heads-up that something’s off.
- That Smell: Before you dive into that jar, give your bacon grease a good look and a sniff. If something seems fishy (and not in the delicious bacon way), it’s best to play it safe and toss it.
If you’ve got some bacon grease past its prime, don’t dump it down the sink or in the toilet. You’ll end up with clogged pipes, and nobody wants that.
Pour it into an old jar or can, let it set, and then toss it in the trash on garbage day.
What Affects The Shelf Life Of Bacon Grease
Mixing New With Old
You might be tempted to pour that fresh bacon grease into a container with some old grease.
But here’s the thing. The old leftover bacon grease might be closer to turning rancid, and combining it with the new can shorten the shelf life of the fresh batch.
A good rule of thumb? Keep each batch separate. This way, you always know how old each portion is and can use up the older stuff first.
If you’re storing multiple batches, slap a label on each bacon grease container with the date.
It’s a simple way to keep track and ensure you’re using the oldest grease first. Plus, it helps to make sure you’re not using something way past its prime.
When you have that lovely pool of bacon grease left in the pan, don’t dump it straight into a jar.
Cool it down, then strain it with a coffee filter first to get rid of tiny bacon bits and other little bits that can spoil way faster than the grease itself.
Always go for a clean, dry glass container when storing your bacon grease. Even the tiniest drop of water can be a party invitation for bacteria, and that’s a party you don’t want happening in your jar.
And every time you need some of that golden goodness, make sure you’re using a clean utensil. You don’t want to introduce any unwanted guests that can make your bacon grease go bad faster.
Bacon Grease Shelf Life FAQs
Does Bacon Grease Need To Be Refrigerated?
Homemade bacon grease should be refrigerated for optimal freshness and safety. Some store-bought versions can be kept at temperatures below 80°F, but refrigeration is recommended once opened.
Can You Freeze Bacon Grease?
Yes, you can freeze bacon grease for extended storage. Use ice cube trays for portioning, then transfer them to an airtight container for easy use.
Can Old Bacon Grease Make You Sick?
Yes, bacon grease can make you sick, especially if it’s rancid. Rancid fats can upset your stomach and ruin the flavor of your dish. Plus, if there’s mold or other contaminants, that could lead to a hospital visit.
That delicious bacon grease can be a treat in many dishes, but only if it’s stored and used properly.
Remember, hot grease can be a hazard. After frying up that bacon, shift your pan to a cold burner and give it time to cool. Letting it cool down not only ensures safety but also preserves the quality of the grease.
But sometimes, convenience and safety is the better option. Store-bought versions, like “Bacon Up,” are crafted to be stable. They come with clear guidelines and “Use by” dates, making it a breeze to ensure you’re using fresh, safe grease.
Whether you’re going homemade or store-bought, always prioritize freshness and safety. Keep that bacon grease in check, use it wisely, and you’re in for some deliciously flavorful dishes.