Can Pepperoni Go Bad?

What’s pizza without a generous helping of pepperoni? This cured meat is so much more than a pizza topping! This fatty, savory cured meat can be used as calzone filling, savory pastries, nachos, and so much more. Pepperoni imparts a delectable smoky flavor that brings out the earthiness in any dish. But can pepperoni go bad?

Pepperoni has a long storage life because the meat has been cured. The curing process eliminates moisture in the meat that could accelerate spoilage. However, pepperoni won’t keep forever so it is important to store this product or any type of cured meats for that matter, properly!

Image used under Creative Commons from Brian Shamblen

Can Pepperoni Go Bad?

Yes, pepperoni can go bad at some point despite treating the meat with preservatives and sodium. Sure, the nitrates and salt in pepperoni could delay the degradation of the meat but the fatty oils within the meat increase the risk of spoilage. The oil in the meat could turn rancid and this will affect the overall flavor of the pepperoni. Prolonging the shelf life of pepperoni will depend on the storage conditions.

You have to keep the product away from sources of moisture and heat. Unstable temperatures are the enemy when preserving cured meats. Once the pepperoni has been sliced, however, the shelf life will be much, much shorter. This is why you have to consume the product right away for optimal flavor and quality.

Signs that Pepperoni Has Gone Bad

It is easy to tell if pepperoni has gone bad. Start by checking the aroma. if the product emits a moldy, rancid odor, it might have gone bad. Check if the pepperoni has taken on a weird color. If the product has turned an odd shade of brown, grey, or black, toss the pepperoni in the trash. Pepperoni is susceptible to mold growth so check for the presence of mold. Finally, if the pepperoni has turned slimy, it is no longer safe to eat.

How to Store Pepperoni?

Storing pepperoni properly will depend on the state of the product prior to storage. For un-cut and/or sealed pepperoni sticks, you can store them in the pantry at room temperature. Storing unopened pepperoni in the pantry is safer because the packaging provides ample protection from the elements. Just make sure to keep the product away from moisture and heat.

Image used under Creative Commons from Amber DeGrace

Sliced or cut pepperoni must be refrigerated. Place the product in an airtight container so it won’t dry out nor absorb fridge odors during storage. If you don’t intend to use up your pepperoni anytime soon, you can freeze the product.

When kept in the pantry, un-cut and sealed packs of pepperoni will keep up to 6 weeks or so. When kept in the refrigerator, the pepperoni will stay fresh for at least 6 months. When stored in the freezer, pepperoni will keep for a year or more.

Can You Freeze Pepperoni?

Pepperoni keeps surprisingly well in the freezer. As long as you packed the product properly, it should keep in the freezer with minimal flavor or texture changes. Just make sure to use an airtight container to protect the product from freezing temperature. The freezing temps could dry out the meat or cause significant flavor changes! Although pepperoni freezes well, don’t wait for several months before you use up your supply. This is the kind of product that tastes better when eaten as soon as possible.

Summary

Pepperoni is such a versatile ingredient so it is always a smart idea to keep several sticks of it in storage! You never know when you need it! Can pepperoni go bad? Yes, pepperoni can go bad at some point but as long as you kept all the storage tips we’ve outlined above, you will be able to maximize your supply.

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