Let’s talk about the shelf life, storage, and spoilage of bacon grease.
Say you got some bacon grease stored for a couple of weeks already, and you’d like to make sure you can still use it. Does bacon grease go bad?
Or maybe you’re just wondering how long bacon grease lasts so that you know how long you’ve got until you need to use yours.
Either way, you’re looking for a short primer on bacon grease that will provide you with all the info that you need and none that you don’t.
If that’s the case, you found it. Let’s get right in.
Table of Contents
- Does Bacon Grease Go Bad?
- Does Bacon Grease Need to be Refrigerated?
- How to Store Bacon Fat
- How Long Does Bacon Grease Last?
- Bacon Grease Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary
Does Bacon Grease Go Bad?
Bacon grease lasts months, but if stored for too long or in poor conditions, it eventually goes bad.
The primary way bacon fat spoils is by going rancid. You can tell your bacon grease is rancid if it tastes bitter or harsh or gives off a weird smell. If it reminds you of nail polish remover or putty, it’s definitely rancid.
The smell isn’t always a clear indicator of rancidity, so you might need to taste yours to make sure.
Besides rancidity, throw out bacon grease that grows mold or other “nasties” on its surface. That usually happens if you contaminate the fat with other food particles.
(Bacon grease is the fat rendered when you cook bacon, so it’s a type of lard. In other words, bacon grease is lard, but not all lard is bacon grease.)
Next, you might wonder if liquid or semi-liquid bacon grease is spoiled. The answer is no.
Bacon grease tends to liquefy when stored outside at temperatures above 80°F (or 26°C) and solidifies when the temperature drops. It works like coconut oil or ghee, either of which liquefies on a warm day but goes back to solid after a couple of days of colder temperatures.
Not sure how to use leftover bacon grease? Use it as a 1-to-1 replacement for cooking oil, vegetable shortening, or butter in sauteeing and frying. If you’re thinking about using bacon grease in baked goods, start with 50 percent max, use well-filtered fat that doesn’t clearly smell like a pig, and see how it goes. You don’t want your apple pie to smell or taste like bacon.
Does Bacon Grease Need to be Refrigerated?
Bacon grease doesn’t require refrigeration, but storing it in the fridge greatly improves how long it retains quality. Stored at room temperature, bacon grease keeps quality for a couple of months, while if you refrigerate it, that period lengthens to a year or even longer.
So if you’ve ever wondered how long bacon fat can sit out, the answer is months, as long as it’s sealed tight and away from sunlight.
Store-bought bacon grease is well-filtered, and you can leave it unrefrigerated for quite some time without any ill consequences. It works the same way for vegetable shortening.
But for bacon grease that you render at home, refrigeration is highly recommended. That’s especially true if you don’t expect to use the fat within a couple of weeks of rendering or don’t bother filtering out the solid bits before storage.
Sure, some people store saved bacon fat unrefrigerated and have no issues with it ever going bad, but it’s safer to keep it cold.
If your family saves bacon grease for years, you probably have a firm opinion on where you store it. If you’ve never had any issues with the fat going rancid or moldy, continue with whatever works for you.
Next, let’s talk about other storage practices.
How to Store Bacon Fat
Store bacon grease sealed tightly in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight. When scooping, use clean utensils and never double dip. This way, you don’t contaminate the fat, risking growing mold or “nasties” on the surface.
Choose if you refrigerate bacon grease based on whether it’s store-bought or homemade and how long you need it to retain quality.
If it’s bacon grease that you rendered yourself, or you need it to last months at peak quality, it’s best to refrigerate it. But if it’s store-bought or you’ll use it soon, it’s probably okay to leave it unrefrigerated.
Saving Bacon Fat
If you’re cooking bacon and saving the grease on your own, there are several things to remember.
First, make sure that you filter the fat while it’s still warm. You can use a strainer, coffee filters, paper towels, or whatever else to help you get rid of any remaining solid bits.
Some people ignore filtering, and that’s probably not a big deal if you refrigerate the fat and use it within a week or two of cooking. But if you need it to last longer, filter the grease.
Next, wait until the fat cools before you refrigerate it.
When it comes to containers, mason jars, jelly jars, airtight containers, storage jars, and anything in between is okay. Just make sure you can seal it tightly.
Last, you want to use up your saved bacon fat reasonably quickly, and don’t just pour into and take from the same container over and over. Otherwise, the bacon grease on the bottom of that container will stay there for who-knows-how-long and could go bad.
Instead, always pour fresh bacon grease into a new container, and use up the fat from older jars first. So unless you’re rendering massive amounts of bacon fat, it’s probably best to stick to small containers.
Alternatively, make sure you use up your saved bacon fat before another bacon-cooking session.
How Long Does Bacon Grease Last?
|Store-bought bacon grease||4 – 6 months||1 – 2 years|
|Homemade bacon grease||1 – 3 months||6 months|
Store-bought bacon grease retains quality for about 4 to 6 months at room temperature and between a year to two years in the fridge. Homemade bacon grease keeps for a couple of months unrefrigerated and about six months in the refrigerator.
For store-bought bacon fat, the recommendations vary between brands, but they usually end up somewhere between a year and two years if you keep the fat in the fridge.
If you don’t, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact storage period. But knowing that unrefrigerated lard keeps quality for about 6 months, it’s safe to say bacon grease does the same.
(If you’re looking for shortening that lasts even longer, consider Crisco.)
For homemade bacon grease, that 6-month period is a rough estimate. How long yours will last depends on how well you filter the fat, whether you seal it tight, and its overall quality.
It might keep way beyond the half-year period but might as well go rancid more quickly. Because of that, I suggest using yours as soon as possible, starting a new container every other month, and using the oldest ones first.
Bacon Grease Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary
Thanks for reading this primer on bacon fat. Here are the takeaways:
- Bacon grease lasts months even if you leave it out unrefrigerated, but sooner or later goes rancid. You can tell that yours is rancid if it tastes bitter and harsh or if it smells like some chemicals. Other spoilage signs include mold and “nasties” on the surface, usually caused by contaminating the fat with food particles.
- Store-bought bacon grease keeps quality for at least half a year unrefrigerated and one to two years if you store it in the fridge. Homemade saved bacon fat keeps for a couple of months if left out and more than half a year if refrigerated. Make sure the fat stays sealed tight and away from any heat sources so that it doesn’t go bad prematurely.