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Can Bacon Grease Go Bad? (Yes & How Long)

While it might seem unusual, many people reuse the bacon grease from inside of their frying pan – either as a method of frying future bacon, or in other cooking projects.

Can Bacon Grease Go Bad?

But can bacon grease go bad, and if so, how long of a lifespan does it have?

How Long Does It Last?

If the bacon grease is left at room temperature, and isn’t refrigerated in any way, then it will generally last for a period of a few months if contained and kept out of sunlight – although this obviously depends on how hot your home is, and the climate in which you live.

However, even if you leave your grease out on the countertop in the skillet you cooked it in, it will still usually last for around a week before it starts to go bad, which is perfect for those wanting to cook several meals in the same week using the same grease as a cooking fat.

What Happens To The Grease?

After this period at room temperature, the fat molecules of the grease begin to break down and oxidize, which makes them inedible.

However, whilst inedible, consuming the bacon grease will not cause any life threatening problems – instead leaving you with an upset stomach for a prolonged period of time, and this would entirely depend on how much you consume once it has gone past its best.

The tricky thing with bacon grease is that there aren’t any molds or bacteria that can develop and act as markers for when it has gone bad, which means that people can easily be caught out, consuming the bad grease and making themselves ill.

How To Tell Grease Has Gone Bad?

Luckily, when bacon grease has gone bad, there is a distinct smell that can act as an indicator.

This smell tends to be either sour or soapy, and if you smell either of these smells when opening the container of grease, then you should not use it and dispose of it immediately.

How To Properly Store Bacon Grease?

There are a couple of good ways to store bacon grease, depending how much of it you have, and how long you want it to last for.

At Room Temperature

If you are storing it at room temperature, then as mentioned above, the grease will last for roughly 6 months.

However, during this time, it should be stored in an airtight container, and kept out of direct sunlight – be it inside a cupboard, or some similar storage area.

In The Refrigerator

If you are storing the bacon grease in a refrigerator, then it can last for roughly a year, but you must make sure that it is also sealed in an airtight container to stop oxidation from occurring during storage.

What To Avoid When Storing Grease?

What To Avoid When Storing Grease?

To reiterate, there are several things to avoid when storing your bacon grease.

Sunlight

Regardless of how you are storing your bacon grease, one of the most important things is to keep it away from windows, and sources of direct sunlight, as this can raise the temperature of the grease and encourage it to go bad at a quicker rate.

Air

The best way to avoid oxidation is – predictably – to minimize contact with oxygen.

This means storing the bacon grease in an airtight container, making sure as little oxygen can reach it as possible.

This is the best all round way of maintaining the condition for as long a time as possible, and really couldn’t be simpler to do.

Debris

If you are leaving your bacon grease in the skillet to use over the next day or so, then it is important to ensure it is properly covered.

This will make sure that no little pieces of debris – such as insects, hair, or crumbs – get into the grease and potentially contaminate it.

This is more of a general cleanliness issue than a health concern, but it could be possible for insects to get into the mix and cause illness in some cases – although this obviously depends on the insect in question.

How To Dispose Of Bacon Grease?

If your bacon grease has indeed gone bad, then be sure NOT to pour it down your sink or toilet – as the fat could cool, congeal, and cause blockages in your pipes that could come back to haunt you later.

The best method is to pour the grease into a disposable container, and then throw it in the garbage.

Or, alternatively (and depending on the amount) you could also contact a grease/oil collection company to come and collect it.

Handy Uses For Bacon Grease

Due to its consistency and flavor, bacon grease has many uses within cooking, but is predominantly used as an alternative for lard, cooking oil, and other fats.

For this reason it is usually utilized as an oil for frying other fried foods (or more bacon), and can improve the overall flavor of the meat.

In other cases, bacon grease could be used for a number of other cooking processes, including cooking roasted potatoes, home fries, and other meal items – utilizing the bacon grease’s natural saltiness and flavor to enhance other meals.

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about bacon grease, whether it goes bad, and the best ways to store it.

There are many uses for bacon grease, and with the proper storage, it can be a useful cooking ingredient for numerous meals – proving that even apparent waste products can be used effectively to create delicious meals time and time again.

But to avoid tummy troubles, make sure it is sealed, stored, and chilled well!

Jess Smith
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