Here's How Long That Fresh Package Of Bacon Will Last In Your Fridge

Cured meats, including bacon, might have a reputation for lasting a lot longer than their fresh counterparts, but that doesn't mean you can safely store them and eat them weeks or even months later. (And of course, it goes without saying that bacon needs to be refrigerated.)

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If you've opened your package of uncooked bacon and kept in the in the fridge, you should use it up within a week, according to the USDA. But, cooked bacon, however, has a slightly shorter shelf life of 4 to 5 days after it's been cooked.

An unopened package of bacon is a little more ambiguous. Common advice is that you can store it for approximately 2 weeks. However, as long as the package is safely sealed and your refrigerator is set to an appropriate temperature below 40 degrees, you can probably go by the use-by date on the package. But, if you're worried or unsure, there are ways to assess if bacon is still good to eat.

How to detect bad bacon

If your sealed bacon is still in the fridge before its use-by date, or your opened package has been there for less than a week, it should still be fine, but it can't hurt to check a little more closely, by looking, smelling, or touching it. Visually, bacon that's gone bad might shift to a gray, brown, or even green color, instead of the pinkish-red tone that it should have. If there's mold, definitely throw it away.

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The smell of bacon that's gone bad is a little hard to describe, but generally speaking, it's a red flag if it doesn't smell, well, like normal bacon — a little smoky, a little meaty. Bad bacon will smell rancid or sometimes a little sour. If it doesn't smell appetizing or pleasant, watch out.

As for touch, if your bacon has a slimy feel to it, that's another likely sign of spoilage. The slimy texture is likely caused by bacteria, and a big sign to throw that bacon away.

What about storing bacon in the freezer?

As with most foods, your bacon will be okay to eat for a far longer period if you freeze it, regardless of whether the package is opened or still sealed. According to the USDA, opened packages of bacon should be good for about four months in the freezer, but with a note that this is more about maintaining the food quality (for example, to prevent freezer burn). The USDA also notes that frozen food generally stays safe indefinitely, so your bacon should be safe past the four-month mark. Other expert sources tend to suggest that bacon is good for around six months in the freezer if opened, and eight if unopened. Freezing opened bacon in a sealed container is a wise move to keep it fresh.

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Be careful when you're thawing out frozen bacon – ideally, you should just move it to the fridge and let it slowly defrost. But, if you're in a rush, putting it in a sealed plastic container (like a Ziploc bag) and submerging it in cold water will work faster. Just be sure not to let it defrost out in the open at room temperature.

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