bacon grease shelf life

Bacon Grease Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

As a bacon lover, it’s such a shame to waste the dripping bacon fat down the drain each time after cooking. So, you decided to render the flavorful fat. However, you’re not sure with the storage: Does bacon grease need to be refrigerated?

Perhaps, you’ve been using store-bought bacon grease from time to time. In the middle of cleaning, you find a tub that already passed the best-by date. Does bacon grease go bad? How do you know if bacon grease goes bad?

If you find yourself in either of the situations above, fear not! We got you covered. In this article, we take a closer look into the shelf life of bacon grease, its proper storage, and common signs of going bad. Sounds like what you’re looking for? Read on!

How To Store Bacon Grease

If bacon is your family favorite, you often end up with fat leftover in the pan. Rendering bacon grease is a smart way to make the most out of every slice of your bacon.

When it comes to storage, the guidelines slightly differ between store-bought and homemade bacon grease. Let’s start with the former.

Commercially-prepared bacon grease is typically shelf-stable. It means that you can keep it out of the fridge. It’s usually added with BHA, an antioxidant to prevent oxidation, which makes bacon grease become rancid.

Pick a cool, dry place, out of heat and light, preferably below 80 °F (26.7 °C). It’s not necessary to keep store-bought bacon grease in the fridge after opening.

Meanwhile, if the temperature is above 80 °F, the fat tends to liquify. The consistency depends on the temperature, but it remains safe, whether it’s solid or liquid.

Making homemade bacon grease is quite straightforward. After cooking, let the fat cool down to room temperature. Strain out any small bits of bacon with a cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

Pour the remaining into a clean jar or container. If you don’t remove the bacon bits, the fat tends to go rancid more quickly.

If you use bacon grease quite often, you can keep it somewhere in the kitchen within your arm’s reach. Otherwise, keeping it refrigerated will extend the shelf life.

Maintaining good hygiene is critical in food storage. Use a clean, dry spoon or utensil to take out the fat. As always, make sure to seal the container tightly after each use.

What about freezing bacon grease? Commercially-prepared bacon grease has a considerable shelf life. It is also shelf-stable and no need to refrigerate or freeze. 

Homemade bacon grease is more prone to getting rancid. Since it’s purely rendered fat without any added preservatives or antioxidants, it can go rancid earlier than the store-bought one. Hence, freezing bacon grease helps to preserve the freshness.

You can freeze bacon grease in a freezer-safe container or ice cubes trays. The latter is more convenient to thaw if you only use a small amount each time.

How Do You Tell If Bacon Grease Goes Bad?

Just like other types of fats, the main enemy of bacon grease is going rancid. But, not everyone knows how rancid fat smells like.

Give it a sniff test. If bacon grease smells like crayons, soapy, or metallic, it’s likely to have gone rancid. It’s best to discard as rancid fat ruins your dishes.

Other than the rancid smell, check for any discoloration or growth of molds. Although quite unlikely, it is better to give it a thorough check.

If everything seems fine, give it a taste test to decide. If the fat tastes off, discard it.

How Long Does Bacon Grease Last?

Each tub of bacon grease is stamped with a “best-by” date. This date is the period when the fat stays in its prime quality. Commercially-prepared bacon grease stays for about two years or a few months after the recommended time, if stored under optimal conditions.

Homemade bacon grease has a limited shelf life compared to the store-bought variety. It doesn’t contain preservatives or antioxidants to prevent from going rancid. If there are pieces of bacon left in the jar, the fat also tends to go rancid rapidly.

Homemade bacon grease stays fresh for a couple of months if kept outside the refrigerator. If continuously chilled, the shelf life is prolonged up to 6 months. Meanwhile, freezing is an option if you don’t use fat frequently. Frozen bacon grease keeps well up to a year. (*)

Bacon greasePantryRefrigeratedFreezer
Bacon grease (store-bought)2 years or best-by date + 3 to 6 months
Bacon grease (homemade)1 to 2 months6 months1 year

This table is a general guideline to estimate a period when bacon grease retains its best quality. Keep in mind that the actual shelf life may differ. It depends on the preparation method and storage conditions. Make sure to check if it’s rancid or spoiled before use.


FAQs

Can bacon grease make you sick?

Bacon grease is high in saturated fats. Overconsumption of saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels, which cause blockages in arteries in the heart and other parts of the body. Therefore, nutrition experts recommend limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of your calorie intake a day.

What can you use bacon grease for?

Bacon can be a replacement for other kinds of fats, such as butter or olive oil. You can use it for frying eggs, sautéing vegetables, and even popping popcorn!

Is bacon grease lard?

Lard is a generic term for rendered pork fat. That being said, bacon grease is a type of lard. However, pure lard and bacon grease have different flavor and texture. Bacon grease is smoky, while pure lard has a neutral flavor.

Final Thoughts

Bacon grease is packed with flavor and too good to waste. As much as you love it, bacon grease eventually goes bad. Rancidity is the ultimate enemy.

Keep homemade bacon grease in the refrigerator up to half a year, or freeze it up to a year. If bacon grease goes to your daily cooking, keep it somewhere in the kitchen for a month or two.

Store-bought bacon grease is shelf-stable and can be kept out of the refrigerator. Make sure to use a dry, clean spoon and seal the container tightly after use. If bacon grease smells rancid or tastes off, it’s time to toss it out.

Up Next: How long does bacon last?

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