If you are a bacon lover and cook bacon often, you probably know that there is always tons of fat left over in the pan after cooking it. If you are like most people, you probably strain it out into a jar or container and store it away until you want to use it for making delicious dishes that have a hint of bacon flavor in it. However, one of the questions often asked about bacon fat is, “Does bacon fat go bad.” The simple answer to this question is, “Yes!”
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What is the shelf life of bacon fat?
Bacon fat that is strained properly from any bacon particles and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator can stay good for up to a year. However, bacon fat stored in an airtight container with bacon meat bits throughout it can turn rancid within weeks. Therefore, if you are going to use un-strained bacon fat it is best if you use it up within the first few weeks you make a fresh batch of it by cooking up some bacon strips.
Can heated bacon fat be reused?
Bacon fat that you heat up and use for sautéing or frying vegetables or other goods within in a pan should never be saved and reused again if fat is left over. This is because the bacon fat was cooked with foods that are capable of producing bacteria later on if it is allowed to sit around long enough. In addition, bacon fat you use once for cooking will take on the flavor of what you are cooking. Therefore, you do not want to reuse that bacon fat for cooking up other dishes because the flavor from your last dish will contribute to the flavor of the next dish, which possibly will not mingle together well.
Should bacon fat be stored on the kitchen counter?
Many people store bacon fat on their counter top near the kitchen stove for quick and easy use, but the truth is insects such as flies can land in it and cause bacteria issues. Heck mice, if you have mice issues can even get into the bacon fat causing health issues. Debris and exposure to air can cause bacon fat to go rancid as well. It is always wise to store your bacon fat in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to use it. In the refrigerator or freezer, bacon fat can be stored for years at a time, but it is always best when used up as soon as possible within the first year of it being created. This will help keep the bacon fat flavor and good to use for cooking up food.
How will you know if bacon fat is bad?
You will know if you bacon fat has gone bad because it will have a rancid smell too it, or have mold growing on the surface of it because some sort of food particles interacted with it. If your bacon fat smells rancid or has mold growing on the surface of it, it is time to toss it out and make a fresh batch. Just make sure you place the new bacon fat into a sterilized clean jar, seal it up tightly with a lid and store it in the refrigerator where it is cool and dark, and is able to stay as fresh as possible for as long as possible for you.
Bottom Line for Bacon Fat
If you want to extend the shelf life of your bacon fat or make it go further you can mix vegetable shorten in with it while it is still warm and store the mixture in the refrigerator safely for years at a time until you are ready to use it up. However, as mentioned, bacon fat is always best when used up after it is made because it will have the most flavors and work the best for cooking up foods and other goods. In fact, bacon fat works well for adding flavor to a big crock-pot of slowly cooked baked beans or turkey chili. Some people even use the fat in cornbread to help make it moist and flavorful.