Are you wondering if those couple of strips of leftover bacon sitting on the table are still good? When at room temperature, exactly how long can cooked bacon sit out?
You should never let cooked bacon sit at room temperature. The reason is that bacteria can grow and reproduce rapidly in an environment between 40°F and 140°F. This means it would never be ideal for making your cooked bacon sit out before consuming it.
Read on to learn more about how long cooked bacon can sit out and other important facts about this beloved cured meat product.
How Long Can Cooked Bacon Sit Out?
Unless forbidden by religion, I’m pretty sure that you, just like many people all over the world, also love bacon. Bacon has always been a staple in most homes, whether for breakfast, in a sandwich, or even for dinner.
Now, if you have a large family, you may be wondering about up to when you can eat it. You may want to know how long can bacon sit out after being cooked, especially if you cook in large portions.
Note that bacteria growth may happen on cooked food. This could occur if you leave it out in temperatures between 40°F and 140°F for over two hours. Therefore, you should throw uneaten bacon left on the dinner table for over two hours.
What Should You Do with Leftover Bacon?
Refrigerate Leftover Bacon
Having leftover cooked bacon seldom happens, considering how tasty it is. However, if it still happens in your household, you must immediately refrigerate the leftover bacon. Avoid leaving it out at room temperature.
Cooked Bacon Is Still Good When Left Overnight at Room Temperature
However, you should also keep in mind that bacon is a form of cured meat. This means it underwent a preservation process using sodium and salt nitrites. Once cured, the bacon becomes highly resistant to bacterial growth. Moreover, when you cook bacon, you will also remove most of the meat’s moisture. This can further deter bacteria growth.
This means that cooked cured bacon would not go bad even if you leave it out at room temperature overnight. Some can even attest that they are still good after a few days.
Just make sure that they were not contaminated by bacteria from other sources, like other food on the same plate. However, take note that the keyword here is “cured.” In other words, it does not apply to organic bacon or bacon without any nitrite preservatives.
Check the Bacon’s Smell and Texture
Now, it would still be best for you to be on the safe side. Regardless of whether or not you have cured bacon, you still have to observe it after leaving it outside. Observe if it smells kind of off (somewhat sour) or if there is a layer of slime on the surface. In that case, just cut your losses and throw that bacon away.
How to Store Cooked Bacon
If you cooked too much bacon for breakfast, don’t worry. You can still store the leftovers to still eat them for much later:
1. Store the Cooked Bacon in the Fridge
You will need to pat the bacon with paper towels to dry them out. This should also help absorb most of the bacon grease. You should then store the cooked bacon inside a vacuum-sealed freezer bag. After that, put it in the fridge. You can eat the leftover bacon even after four days.
2. Freeze the Leftover Bacon
Do the same process you used to store raw bacon in the freezer. Just remember to label the packaging with the date that you stored it. Cooked bacon can last at least four months if stored properly in the freezer.
How to Properly Store Bacon Grease
Bacon grease adds a lot of flavors to anything that you use it in. It just makes sense that you would want to store it for future use. Here is how you can do it properly:
1. Let the Bacon Grease Cool Down
First, let the bacon grease cool down to a temperature that you can safely handle. It should not be quite at room temperature, but it should not be scalding hot either.
2. Remove Bits of Bacon
Remove any small bits of meat floating in the grease. This will prevent it from getting rancid too quickly. If you do not have a very fine kitchen sieve, you can use a coffee filter.
3. Position the Coffee Filter Over the Jar’s Mouth
Position the coffee filter over the mouth of a mason jar or any glass container you have. Pour the warm grease into it slowly. The filter will catch all the small bacon bits while making the grease clear.
4. Store the Grease in the Fridge
You may have older relatives who kept their bacon grease on the kitchen counter or near the stove. They do this for easier access. However, you should store the grease in your fridge due to food safety concerns.
This is more advisable if you will not use the bacon grease for cooking that much anyway. It will keep in the fridge for up to three months and indefinitely if in the freezer.
I find that storing bacon grease and duck grease in the fridge is best. The reason is that the grease stays soft enough to scoop out with a spoon easily. This way, you will always have bacon grease ready when you need it.
Again, how long can cooked bacon sit out? Do not let cooked bacon sit out for more than two hours at room temperature. At this temperature (40°F-140°F), bacteria can grow and multiply rapidly. So, you should observe the cooked bacon’s smell, texture, and signs of mold. Throw away the bacon if it has any signs of spoilage.
How to Store Uncooked Bacon Properly
To spare yourself from the heartache of having to throw away bacon, learn how to store them properly. A couple of slices of bacon that’s gone bad is already a sad sight. However, entire packs of spoilt bacon are a travesty.
First of all, you need to learn how to pick your bacon. When shopping, look for bacon slices with long veins of pink meat, not light brown. Also, get bacon that has less fat. This way, you will be getting more out of your money. Of course, you should also check the product’s expiration or the “sell by” date.
Now, one way to store bacon properly is through freezing. If you are keeping your bacon in the freezer, there are a few recommended ways of doing so:
1. Put the Meat in Freezer-proof Bags
You can find these kinds of bags in most supermarkets and online. You have to place the bacon inside the bag and seal it before putting it in the freezer. This prevents the meat from getting freezer burned. This is when the extreme cold removes all the moisture from the meat.
2. Use Parchment Paper When Freezing Bacon Slices
If you will be freezing bacon slices, place a couple of them on top of some parchment paper. Place another sheet on top of them, and add more slices.
Roll up the paper with the bacon strips before placing it in the freezer-proof bag. This will keep the bacon pieces from sticking to each other.
3. Vacuum-seal the Bacon
If you like to buy bacon in bulk to save, find a way to store them for a long time. One way to do this is by vacuum-sealing the bacon and freezing it.
Putting bacon in the freezer will allow you to keep it for up to a week after its expiration date. You can also vacuum-seal your bacon in a freezer-proof bag and then throw it in the freezer. This technique will let it stay good for up to a month or longer, depending on the fat content. Note that the fat is the first thing to go rancid in meat.
Another nice thing about this process is that vacuum sealers are quite inexpensive and are readily available online.
Here’s a tip on how to make storing your bacon more convenient. Divide the packaged bacon into your usual serving sizes, like, say, four pieces each. Place them in vacuum bags and then wrap them in aluminum foil.
The bacon can last in the freezer for a couple of weeks. However, once you break the vacuum seal, you will need to rewrap the bacon in foil. It is also important to consume the bacon within a week.
4. Repack the Bacon
If you plan to store the bacon for later use, remove it from the original packaging. Repack them in a new zip-lock freezer bag. Do this to prevent germs and bacteria from outside the old packaging from contaminating the bacon.
You can also use airtight plastic containers, especially those you can vacuum out the air inside them. The bacon can realistically last for a couple of weeks. The ends of the bacon slices might get a bit freezer burned. However, you can just cut those away, and the rest will still be good.
Signs That the Uncooked Bacon Has Gone Bad
There are many ways to determine if any meat stored in your fridge has already turned rancid. However, there is a simple way to determine if the uncooked bacon sitting in your fridge has gone bad. This is by using three of your senses:
Carefully remove the bacon from its packaging. Make sure your hands are clean when doing so. Carefully do a visual check on the bacon. Keep your eyes peeled for some of the more visible signs.
Good bacon should be a healthy shade of pink. If there are any signs of discoloration, like brown, gray, and most importantly, bluish-green tinge, throw it out immediately.
Also, check for mold spots anywhere on the meat. Simply cutting out the spots will not make the meat any safer to eat.
If you cannot find any visual sign that your bacon has gone bad, you can smell it. Fresh and safe-to-eat meat should not have any strong odors at all. If the bacon smells sour or rotten, you need to throw it away.
Now, if you cannot identify the smell, like when doubting if it smells bad, it may have already turned rancid. In that case, you can either cook it as crispy as possible immediately or throw it away.
Do a tactile inspection if you need further convincing, even after the two previous tests. Make sure that your hands are clean, and then touch the bacon. If you feel a somewhat slimy or sticky layer on the meat, that is not a good sign.
This means that there is already a lot of bacteria on the surface. It also means they have already started working on breaking down the meat. Just throw the batch out at this point, and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Conclusion – How Long Can Cooked Bacon Sit Out?
Bacon, once cooked, should be consumed immediately. Note that room temperature bacon is significantly less enjoyable. Aside from that, it can also be a health risk if you leave it out for too long.
Never let cooked bacon sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. Bacteria can rapidly grow on cooked meats if left in an environment between 40°F and 140°F. If the bacon looks, smells, and feels off, then you should discard it immediately.