Cooking bacon and bacon grease go hand in hand. A true fan of eggs-and-bacon kind of breakfast must have noticed the tons of fat left in the pan. When properly cooking bacon, lots of fat will melt off. That fat is bacon grease and can be stored and used later for cooking.
Transferring fat from the pan to a container is guaranteed to be a messy action, discouraging many people from doing so (and who can blame them, really). Luckily for everyone, bacon grease can be bought pre-packaged in supermarkets. If you see storing remaining fat as too messy, this is a great option.
Bacon grease has a distinguishing, smoky taste. Replacing oil or butter for bacon grease can complement many meals. Frying or baking with fat will give extra flavor to anything you’re intending to make. Many people do use it for cooking, but are wondering does bacon grease go bad?
If you’ve never stored bacon grease before or you’re starting out in the kitchen, you probably have at least a few questions. Those questions most definitely are – how to store bacon grease and how long does it last. Don’t worry, we have your back – so read on to find out the answers!
How To Store Bacon Grease
Proper storage of any food will make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. If you’re storing it wrong, you could actually shorten the shelf life of your goods, and we bet you don’t want that.
So, we’re going to talk about keeping bacon grease. Well-cooked bacon will leave behind a completely clear and liquid substance. Beware, bacon fat turns solid and creamy white when it cools off, with a texture similar to room-temperature butter.
When storing fat, it should be clear of any residual bacon. If it, however, isn’t, straining it with a strainer or a cotton cloth will get rid of any food left behind in the pan.
Pick a container or jar to store your bacon grease in. If you plan to store it in the fridge, use a jar or a bowl. Make sure the selected container is heat-proof before you pour bacon grease inside (or that your bacon grease has cooled down a bit). Cover the jar or bowl with an aluminum foil or stretch wrap.
You can store your bacon grease in the freezer as well. Make sure to use an airtight container or a jar with a lid. To thaw before use, move it to the fridge and leave overnight. Once unthawed bacon grease shouldn’t be returned to the freezer, but used in the next couple of days.
Moreover, you can stock your bacon grease in the pantry, but the quality will start to decline faster than other alternatives mentioned in this article. If this is the option you decide works best for you, pour your leftover fat into an airtight container.
Something to keep in mind as well: whenever you cook and get some bacon grease, please use a new storage container every time. It might sound great and space-saving, but we assure you it isn’t. Mixing two different fats is never a good idea, as the fresh addition will adopt the features of the less-fresh fat in the fridge.
Using a new storage container every time you store bacon grease is the best idea. Although, if you’re determined to use the same jar, ensure to change the jar every 3 to 6 months for the best results.
Extra tip: always use a dry and clean spoon to scoop bacon grease.
How Long Does Bacon Grease Last?
You’re likely asking yourself this since you decided to keep bacon grease. How much time do you have before you have to use it to get satisfying cooking results?
If you’ve made the choice to use store-bought bacon grease, just check the label on the box. There, you can see a best-by date. The best-by date usually means that the manufacturer can guarantee the same quality of the product up to that date (specified on the box). After that date, the product shouldn’t spoil, but just lose some of the features.
Since the best-by date doesn’t mean your bacon grease is going to spoil anywhere soon, you have at least a good couple of months after the specified date. And if your fat container only has a date of production stamped on, you have around 2 years to use it up.
The concept is a little different when it comes to home-made bacon grease, though. There are no official recommendations or science facts. Many people will add and take bacon grease from the same jar for years. Some will even try to convince you that it has no expiration date, that it lasts forever.
Bacon fat stored in the pantry has the shortest shelf life – around six months. The situation is a little better when it comes to refrigerating bacon grease, you have around a year to spend all of it.
Very important fact to remember: these are just rough calculations and you should always check the freshness of your bacon grease before you start cooking with it.
Does Bacon Grease Go Bad?
Bacon grease, can, in fact, go bad. Bacon grease spoils almost exclusively because of improper storage. Appropriately stored bacon grease can last a very long time if you follow the instructions above word for word.
Bacon grease is all fat (obviously), making it theoretically impossible to spoil. However, external factors can impact your favorite addition to meals and make it go rancid. Rancidity is a process of lipid (or fat) oxidation. This happens when the fat is exposed to oxygen, which makes it deteriorate in taste and quality. As previously mentioned, you should always store your bacon grease covered, regardless of the temperature of the place where it is kept.
Regarding the home-made bacon fat, there are a few things you should know. First of all, this variant of bacon fat is easier to spoil than the store-bought. Why? Because the store-bought is thoroughly cleaned and strained to remove any residual bacon bits. Home-made bacon grease can have some left no matter how hard you try and turn rancid nevertheless.
Once you use the bacon grease for cooking, that is it. We don’t advise reusing the grease, as the fat can absorb flavors from the food in the pan as well as some microbes.
Best Ways To Tell Your Bacon Grease Has Gone Bad
Your bacon grease looks a little suspicious to you, and you want to check if it’s past its best or still fresh. Read this part carefully to find out.
Once again, if you store your bacon grease following the instructions mentioned above, it’s not likely to spoil. And if you still fear the freshness has been compromised, there are a few ways to find out.
Look for the presence of mold on top of the grease. Mold grows in humid places, so it’s a general rule of thumb to check the entire shelf for mold. If you can spot mold (look for discolorations), discard the bacon grease immediately.
The next step is to smell your bacon grease – that is, to look for rancidity. Rancid bacon grease is followed by an unpleasant smell. This is a sign your bacon fat is no longer fresh, and tastes bad, too. Fat affected by rancidity is not harmful to human health. However, we advise against using rancid bacon grease because it will make your food taste bad as well.
Extra tip: when throwing out bacon grease, your best bet it is to pour it into an empty tin can or empty milk bottle and throw it in the trash, rather than pouring it down the drain (it can clog your pipes).
What is so great about cooking bacon for breakfast is the byproduct. Bacon grease is a tasty consequence you can use for your next meals. Bacon fat gives your food a savory ring to it, which is why it’s so popular to cook with.
So, does bacon grease go bad? Bacon fat is not easy to turn bad, but make sure the condition of your storage space and the container is up to par. Well-kept bacon grease can last you a long time – up to a year. Always remember to tightly close the lid.
To enjoy cooking with bacon grease, please take a few moments beforehand to check it out. Look at it carefully. Any sight of mold is a threat and you should never even consider using this bacon grease! Mold will make you ill, so do yourself a favor and throw it out.
If it looks fine to you, smell it. If it doesn’t smell or look any different than it used to, there is no reason to worry. Put this bacon grease into the pan and start cooking!