Bacon grease is a staple in many kitchens, adding flavor and richness to a variety of dishes. But how long can you keep it out on the counter before it goes bad?
With conflicting information available online, it can be hard to know what to do. Some say it’s fine to leave it out for weeks, while others insist it should be refrigerated immediately.
In this article, we’ll explore the science behind bacon grease and provide you with the information you need to keep it fresh and safe for as long as possible.
So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!
How Long Can You Keep Bacon Grease On The Counter?
The answer to this question depends on how you store your bacon grease. If you leave it out on the counter at room temperature, its shelf life is only two hours, according to food safety experts. This is because bacon grease is made up of mostly polyunsaturated fats, which are prone to oxidation and turn rancid quickly when exposed to oxygen.
However, if you store your bacon grease in an opaque, sealed container, unrefrigerated homemade bacon grease can last for more than six months. When left uncovered, bacon grease might last a little over a week. So, always seal up that oil and tuck it away in a dark place if you plan to use it later.
If you want your bacon grease to last for an extended period, it’s a great idea to store it in the fridge, where it will last for a couple of months. The refrigerator is best because the fat will stay soft enough to scoop, so you can have delicious solid drippings at the ready. If you plan to freeze your bacon grease, portion small amounts by letting the grease cool slightly—and, then, strain and pour into freezer-safe containers. Pop in the freezer. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight before using.
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.
What Is Bacon Grease And Why Is It So Popular?
Bacon grease is the rendered fat that is left over after cooking bacon. It is a versatile ingredient that has been used for decades in Southern cooking, and it has gained popularity in recent years as a flavorful and unique addition to many dishes. Bacon grease is prized for its ability to add rich, savory, and subtly meaty notes to any recipe. It is commonly used in recipes from cornbread to gravy to green beans to popcorn.
One of the reasons bacon grease is so popular is because it is easy to save and use. It is not something that you can run to the store and purchase like shortening, which makes it all the more special. Saving bacon grease is easy, and it pays huge dividends in the kitchen. Not only does it keep food from sticking to your pan, but it also pumps up the flavor when added to eggs, potatoes, greens, cornbread, and other recipes. You can even bake chocolate chip bacon grease cookies!
Another reason bacon grease is so popular is because of its unique flavor profile. It seasons food like nothing else, and it makes cooking “Southern-style” a piece of cake. Cooking with bacon fat adds beautifully savory, flirtatiously and subtly meaty, salty and heavenly notes to your dishes.
Finally, bacon grease has some healthy qualities as well. Like canola and olive oil, bacon fat is high in oleic acid, which is thought to reduce inflammation and cholesterol levels. So while most people associate bacon with unhealthy eating habits, bacon grease can actually have some health benefits when used in moderation.
The Risks Of Leaving Bacon Grease Out On The Counter
Leaving bacon grease out on the counter can be risky for a few reasons. First and foremost, bacteria can quickly multiply in the warm and moist environment of the grease. This can lead to foodborne illnesses if the bacon grease is consumed after being left out for too long. Additionally, when bacon grease is stored incorrectly, it can develop an unpleasant taste and odor. If left out for an extended period of time, bacon grease can become rancid, which means it has gone bad and should be immediately discarded.
It’s important to note that even if you store your bacon grease in an opaque, sealed container, it’s still best to refrigerate it to prevent any potential health risks. While unrefrigerated homemade bacon grease can last for more than six months when properly stored, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and keep it in the fridge.
How Long Can You Keep Bacon Grease Out Before It Goes Bad?
If you leave bacon grease out on the counter at room temperature, it will go bad after only two hours. This is because bacon grease is made up of mostly polyunsaturated fats, which are prone to oxidation and turn rancid quickly when exposed to oxygen. However, if you store your bacon grease in an opaque, sealed container, unrefrigerated homemade bacon grease can last for more than six months. When left uncovered, bacon grease might last a little over a week. So, always seal up that oil and tuck it away in a dark place if you plan to use it later.
If you plan to use your bacon grease within a week or so, it’s fine to leave it out on the counter. However, if you want your bacon grease to last for an extended period, it’s best to store it in the fridge or freezer. The fridge is the best option because the fat will stay soft enough to scoop, so you can have delicious solid drippings at the ready. If you plan to freeze your bacon grease, portion small amounts by letting the grease cool slightly—and, then, strain and pour into freezer-safe containers. Pop in the freezer. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight before using.
Tips For Storing Bacon Grease To Keep It Fresh And Safe
If you want to store your bacon grease safely and keep it fresh for as long as possible, here are some tips to follow:
1. Strain the grease: Before storing your bacon grease, make sure to strain out any bits of leftover bacon with a coffee filter or mesh strainer. This will help remove any impurities that can cause the grease to spoil faster.
2. Use an opaque container: When storing bacon grease, make sure to use an opaque container that will block out light. Exposure to light can cause the fats in the grease to break down and go rancid more quickly.
3. Seal the container tightly: To prevent air from getting in and oxidizing the fats in the grease, make sure to seal the container tightly with a lid or cover.
4. Store in a cool, dark place: Bacon grease should be stored in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. The ideal temperature range is between 40°F and 60°F.
5. Refrigerate or freeze: If you want your bacon grease to last longer, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator or freezer. Bacon grease can last for up to three months in the refrigerator and indefinitely in the freezer.
By following these tips, you can safely store your bacon grease and keep it fresh for longer periods of time. Just remember to always use common sense when it comes to food safety and discard any bacon grease that looks or smells off.
Creative Ways To Use Bacon Grease In Your Cooking
Bacon grease is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways to add a delicious smoky flavor to your dishes. Here are some creative ways to use bacon grease in your cooking:
1. Popcorn: Use bacon grease instead of butter for a unique and flavorful popcorn experience.
2. Vegetables: Sauté vegetables in bacon grease for a savory side dish. This works particularly well with green beans, kale, and onions.
3. Eggs: Fry or scramble your eggs in bacon grease for a hearty breakfast.
4. Baked Goods: Use bacon grease as a substitute for butter or shortening in savory baked goods like cornbread, biscuits, or tortillas.
5. Grilled Cheese: Spread a little bacon grease on the outside of your grilled cheese sandwich before cooking for an extra crispy and flavorful crust.
6. Roasted Chickpeas: Use bacon grease instead of oil when making roasted chickpeas for a crunchy and smoky snack.
7. Mashed Potatoes: Substitute some of the butter in your mashed potatoes with bacon grease for an extra burst of flavor.
8. Hamburgers: Fry your hamburgers in bacon grease for a delicious twist on a classic dish.
9. French Toast or Pancakes: Use bacon grease to fry up your French toast or pancakes for a unique and tasty breakfast.
10. Season Cast Iron: Use bacon grease to season your cast iron cookware for an extra layer of flavor.
Conclusion: Bacon Grease Is A Delicious Addition To Your Kitchen, But It’s Important To Handle It Safely.
Bacon grease is a versatile and delicious ingredient that can add flavor to a variety of dishes. However, it’s important to handle it safely to avoid health and environmental issues. Pouring bacon grease down the drain or flushing it down the toilet can cause plumbing problems and harm wildlife and the environment. Putting it in the trash can attract pests and contribute to greenhouse gas production in landfills. Instead, dispose of bacon grease properly by storing it in an opaque, sealed container and either refrigerating or freezing it. When cooking with bacon grease, be aware of its high fat content and use it in moderation. Also, be cautious of grease fires as they can be dangerous and cause significant damage and injuries. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the delicious flavor of bacon grease while keeping your household and the environment safe.