Bringing home the bacon might not take much effort, but properly storing it requires some foresight. Most bacon goes through a curing process that results in a short storage life, so it's best to buy only what you can use within one or two weeks. If you end up with an overabundance, you can freeze it, but it won't store as long as uncured meat products.
Lifespan of Frozen Bacon
Although bacon is a cured meat product, that same curing process and the fat in the bacon make it more likely to go rancid during long-term freezer storage. The meat might not cause illness after a long storage, but it will develop an off flavor and suffer from quality loss. It's best to use frozen bacon within one month of freezing, but it will likely survive with minimal quality loss for up to three months if properly packaged. After three months the flavor and texture begin to suffer, which often renders the bacon inedible.
To Open or Not to Open, That's the Question
If you must freeze bacon, unopened packages store best. The factory wrapping keeps out air and moisture, which slows rancidity and prevents freezer burn. If you end up bringing home more bacon that you can use within one week, freeze the leftovers but plan to use it within a month. Once opened, the quality begins to decline, which makes the bacon unsuited for longer storage.
It's All in the Packaging
Even factory packaging can use a little help to keep frozen bacon at its freshest. Wrap the unopened package tightly with foil or freezer-safe plastic wrap. Opened packages require even more careful wrapping to keep out damaging air and moisture. Freeze the excess immediately after opening the package and wrap it tightly in package wrap. Placing this package into a zip-top freezer bag and pushing out all the air before sealing it provides an additional barrier inside the freezer.
Best Use Tactics
The freezing process isn't the only thing that can ruin stored bacon. Improper thawing can increase the chances of foodborne illness or turn the bacon rancid. Thaw bacon in the refrigerator and maintain a temperature between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The bacon should thaw completely overnight, or within 12 hours. Keep any leftovers tightly wrapped in the fridge and use them within one week after you open the package. An unopened package can remain in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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