Tasty, crispy, and a happy sight to behold, bacon has always been a loved part of our menu routine. Whether paired with a side of mashed potatoes or boiled to add richness to Cajun dishes, its uses are immeasurable. And we’ll always be happy to toss some in a pan or bake them in a tray for ourselves and guests. But sometimes, we may make more than we need or wonder if we can cook them ahead of time.
It’s relatively easy to store cooked bacon at any time, and there are different ways to do it. But so also are the needs to be met to prevent its spoilage. But once mastered, you can always have these tasty strips of deliciousness for every meal plan and purpose.
Bacon Nutrition Facts
What Happens to Cooked Bacon at Room Temperature?
We often cook bacon for immediate eating, which explains why you rarely have leftovers on a Sunday morning breakfast. But sometimes, we may make too much of it. And because you plan to eat it soon, you may feel to cover it over the countertop, so you don’t have to reheat. But note that cooked bacon doesn’t do well when stored at room temperature, and here’s why.
When meat is kept at room temperature for a while, it becomes exposed to bacteria. And these microbes multiply in the presence of a food source. With bacon, the high-fat content of the strips encourages bacteria to grow when left at temperatures from 40F and above. And since this is the average room temperature level, it’s pretty logical to conclude that such bacon has been contaminated.
But there’s still hope for cooked bacon left on the countertop if it hasn’t been for more than two hours. This time frame is considered a ‘safe zone,’ which exposed food can still be considered consumable. But anything after such a time and the food must be thrown away. This also applies to foods that include bacon, like sandwiches, and not just plain bacon dishes alone.
Storing Cooked Bacon
As with most meat products, cold storage works best when dealing with cooked bacon. The temperature is known to stop microbial activity, and once the food is reheated within the approved period, it remains safe and may still hold texture. As such, you can store bacon in the fridge or a freezer, depending on how long you’re holding it.
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In the Fridge
Most times, our need to keep cooked bacon comes from leftovers at the dining table. But other times, we may wish to make some ahead of the next day or two. In both situations, the fridge is the perfect option for storage.
Cooked bacon will last for up to five days when kept in the fridge. And it’s always best to do so within two hours of cooking them, so spoilage hasn’t been initiated by bacterial settlement. The fridge is also ideal for times when you have a large batch of bacon that’s about to expire. So, you can quickly cook them and keep them until you’re ready to eat.
When storing cooked bacon in the fridge, ensure to wrap it with foil or plastic beforehand. The covering prevents interaction between the bacon’s aroma and flavor with other foods in the fridge. And you can always reheat them for quick meals like subs, salads, sandwiches, and pasta and vegetable recipes.
In the Freezer
You can also freeze cooked bacon for future use, and this method allows it to hold for longer. It’s also perfect when you need to use up bacon strips before they expire or wish to make space for other things in the fridge. Cooked bacon will keep for up to four months, and it’s always advised to consume them within that time. The reason is if left for longer, the flavor and texture will start to diminish.
When needed, you can thaw cooked bacon kept in the freezer by transferring it into the fridge. Then, you let it sit for some hours before reheating it on the stove. But if you’re in a hurry, consider a quick thaw in the microwave instead. But note that if you defrost and reheat bacon in this manner, it must be eaten at once.
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More Tips for Storing Cooked Bacon
- If you’re cooking the bacon for later, let it come to room temperature before storing it. Hot bacon will release steam into its storage surrounding, which cools to offer an environment for spoilage.
- Wrap the cooked bacon in foil or plastic wraps before keeping them in the fridge or freezer. This method is ideal for creating portions to be eaten. If the portions are meant for the freezer, wrap the wrapped bacon strips again in paper towels. And for bulk storage, especially in the freezer, use air-tight containers with fitting lids.
- Ensure to force as much air out of the plastic or foil envelopes after wrapping the bacon for storage.
- For crispy bacon, consider cooking it below the crispy texture before storing it in the fridge. Then, during reheating, cook the bacon to the preferred crispiness.
- You can also use heavy-duty freezer bags as an excellent storage container for cooked bacon.
- You can reheat the bacon strips straight from the freezer without thawing. And the slices will cook properly in any condition; stove, oven, air fryer, or microwave.
- Always check if the cooked bacon has gone bad before eating. Toss away if you notice any slimy texture or that the sheen is slight. Also, check for any off smell as cooked bacon in good condition doesn’t give such odor. These factors are important because poor storage can cause cooked bacon in the fridge or freezer to spoil.
You can also watch this video for more tips.