There’s nothing quite as decadent in this world than replacing your standard cooking oil with bacon grease when you’re frying up a tasty treat!
Generally, you are probably saving up this liquid (solid?) gold after polishing off your morning breakfast and you might be wondering, does bacon grease go bad?
Let’s embark on a knowledge adventure together and find out!
The short answer to this question is yes.
Fortunately, though, unlike other kitchen perishables, it will last a significant amount of time since it is primarily fat.
The amount of time that it does last is dependent on several factors.
Firstly, you will have to check whether your bacon grease is store-bought or saved from your own personal cooking endeavors.
If it is store-bought, your best bet will always be to stick by the manufacturer’s label, but as with many kitchen items, bacon grease could last a reasonable amount of time beyond this if it is stored correctly.
As a general estimate, this time frame should be approximately around 2 years if it is kept refrigerated.
The key word here is refrigerated.
If you have a stacked fridge that couldn’t possibly fit one more container, and you must keep it out in the pantry, then you’re potentially shortening that timeframe down to around 6 months, as an estimate.
Now, if we venture back to our second paragraph and review what was mentioned, then we also need to cover the situation where you have saved your grease from cooking.
There are a few factors here that will significantly affect your shelf life: temperature, water content, straining, and light exposure.
We’ve covered this already, with refrigeration being a life extender for you. It’s important to note that if you are keeping it in the pantry, then the climatic conditions of your home will affect the shelf life too.
For example, if you are lucky enough to live in a place that is warm and sunny your shelf life will be less, or if you live somewhere chilly it might be close to the fridge temperature anyway!
Did you cook anything else with your bacon?
And did you cook out your grease to remove as much liquid that was released from your piggy friend? Water is one of the main drivers of bacterial growth, which is what will eventually cause your grease to spoil.
Are there any naughty floaters kicking around in your grease?
While the fat content of the grease will act to preserve these tasty morsels, they will in time decrease the time it takes to reach spoilage.
Since light consists of different types of radiation when perishable items are exposed to it, they tend to go off at an increased rate or lose some of their flavor.
In our case, this increases the breakdown of the fat and makes it go rancid.
How to tell if bacon grease has gone bad?
There is a time-tested method for understanding and checking whether your bacon grease has gone bad.
We are equipped with the primal tools of sight, smell and touch which usually is enough to provide a safe level of assumption of where your grease is at.
Personally, I’m not a massive fan of the taste test in this situation, but hey if you’re game then why not!
Some good indicators for sight would be evidence of mold.
Generally, this might be pink, blue, or yellow fuzz growing on the surface of the grease.
Some of these molds can be harmless, however, if you notice any bright colors then that’s usually a good sign that it won’t be too good for you.
Molds can release neurotoxins if ingested that can make you particularly sick, so probably best to avoid them.
The smell test is self-explanatory, if any food has an unpleasant odor, then it’s usually best to avoid it (this isn’t always the case though, have a little google of durian fruit if you are not familiar with it!)
Touch won’t provide too much here, but if the consistency is a bit watery that may indicate that it could be starting to go bad.
What does bad bacon grease smell like?
Since the grease is from bacon, it naturally has a natural meaty smell.
However, once the bacon grease is spoiled, you will notice a sour, rotting, and sometimes fishy odor.
If your grease does have this smell, it’s best to throw it away!
Also, REMEMBER not to pour it down your sink or else, you’ll get a plumbing disaster.
Bacon grease is fat, the process that occurs when bacon grease goes bad is called rancidification.
Rancidification is the process of oxidation (reaction with oxygen present in the surrounding air) or hydrolysis (the reaction with water that could be present in the fat itself, as well as humidity).
This breaks the fats down into smaller components that are well renowned for their unfortunate relentless assault on your nasal cavities.
Rancidification can also remove some of the nutritional value from foods, but in this case, you’re probably not going to be too concerned if you are hoofing into a big ol’ chunk of fat.
One of these nasties is called a ketone, with a scent which can be described as like nail polish remover or rotten fruit…two flavors that won’t improve your dish, even if it is derived from bacon!
How to store bacon grease?
Bacon grease can be stored in a myriad of ways with the most obvious being already mentioned in the previous sections by storing in the fridge or in the pantry.
In terms of your chosen vessel, perhaps you could implement a small jar with a lid, a plastic container or even in the pot that you cooked in if you’re feeling a little lazy.
The world really is, in this case, your oyster.
For a little pro tip, you could go one step further and vacuum seal your bacon grease to make it last a bit longer.
This will remove most of the oxygen surrounding the grease which will reduce the risk of rancidification.
If you are going down the path of saving your own bacon grease, then you can adhere to the following steps:
- Buy yourself some good quality bacon for a start, with a high-fat content (if you want to get fancy you could explore different types of cured pork such as prosciutto, speck or pancetta that can give you some more developed and complex flavors)
- Start with a cold pan and evenly distribute your weapon of choice and let it slowly come up to temperature (the method of starting with a cold pan allows the center of the bacon to even come up to temperature, which results in greater extraction of the fat from the meat.
- Let your bacon get super crispy and once all the fat has been extracted, grab yourself a fine-mesh sieve and strain out the grease. You should now be left with bacon ‘lardons’ as the French call it which are perfect as a naughty snack or perhaps through a Caesar salad.
- Let it cool slightly and store it in your method of choice!
And for the process of storing your bacon grease, here’s how to do it.
But first things first, you need to prepare necessary items (fine mesh strainer, glass container, refrigerator or freezer) to pull off the storing process.
- Put a fine mesh strainer over the mouth of your glass container.
- Pour the grease through the strainer and cover it with the lid.
- Slide the container in your refrigerator or freezer.
How long does bacon grease last?
This was covered comprehensively in the first paragraph, but as a rule of thumb, bacon grease in the pantry will last around 6 months, while bacon grease in the refrigerator will last up to two years.
Always check the expiry date to give yourself a reasonable guide and if you are making a cheeky home batch then that may reduce this time even further.
Can you freeze bacon grease?
Yes, you certainly can!
This will not have any major effect on the quality of the bacon grease, and you can simply take as much as you need for each time that you start cooking.
Since you would be lowering the temperature even more so than in the refrigerator, then the bacterial growth will also subsequently grow slower and increase the time it takes for it to go rancid.
Be sure to store your bacon grease in an air-tight container if you go down this path to avoid the bacon grease taking onboard any unwanted freezer smells.
If you want to use your frozen bacon grease, you will simply need to take it out of the freezer and let it defrost on the counter for a bit.
Or just drop it straight into the pan, it will change from a solid to a liquid in no time at all.
If you are trying to understand whether bacon grease does go bad, as we have covered in the sections above, it most certainly does.
When compared to other kitchen items it does tend to last a very long time, with a timeframe of up to two years if it is stored in the fridge or freezer and up to 6 months if it is stored in the pantry.
Bacon grease should be stored in an airtight container and kept out of sunlight, with exposure to water kept to a minimum.
If you want to tell if it has gone bad, keep an eye out for scary-looking colorful molds and unpleasant smells that are like rotten fruit or nail polish remover.
If you notice any of these signs, your bacon grease may have already started the unfortunate slippery slope of rancidification, which is the breakdown of fats into smaller secondary molecules.
If you want to make literally any dish better, bacon grease should be a go-to staple in your pantry.
Thanks for coming to our website and using our FAQ pages!
Since you are here, we’ve listed six delicious bacon recipes to satisfy your cravings.
- Best Roast Potatoes (Just replace the goose fat in this recipe with your bacon grease)
- Homemade Bacon Grease
- Bacon Fat Tortillas
- Bacon Fat Popcorn!
- Make those Brussels taste good
- How about this Bacon grease BLT?
- Glass jar or container with lid
- Fine mesh strainer
- Refrigerator or freezer
- Put a fine mesh strainer over the mouth of your glass container.
- Pour the grease through the strainer.
- Cover the glass jar or container.
- Slide the jar or container into your refrigerator.
- If freezing the container, make sure there is at least half an inch of room at the top for space for the grease to expand.
- Bacon grease can be thawed and used up to a year in the freezer.
- Wipe the strainer with a used napkin or paper towel before washing to help keep grease out of your pipes.