Have you ever brought hom a package of tasty bacon and wondered, “How long does unopened bacon last?“
Bacon is so darned good, it’s worth knowing how long a package lasts so you can enjoy it when it’s at its peak of deliciousness.
Vacuum Sealed Bacon
Most processed bacon sold in the meat department of the grocery store is wrapped in plastic packaging that protects it from oxygen exposure.
Theoretically, a package of unopened vacuum-sealed refrigerated bacon should last at least until the expiration date printed on the package.
In our real-life experience, however, we think the flavor starts to deteriorate after about a week, even in the shrink-wrapped packaged.
According to the USDA, a sealed package of unopened bacon will last 2 weeks.
For optimum flavor and taste we recommend that you cook and eat any bacon you buy at the store within 7 days. Even when it’s refrigerated in the original packaging, it’s a natural meat product that begins to deteriorate with time.
How Long Does Unopened Bacon Last in Freezer?
Given bacon’s relatively short shelf life you may be wondering, “Can you freeze bacon?” Yes! If you’re not going to cook and eat the bacon within a week of purchase, plan to store it in the freezer.
Even though it’s in the plastic packaging, we recommend putting the unopened package in a freezer bag or airtight container to help prevent freezer burn.
According to the USDA guidelines, an unopened and wrapped package of bacon will last 6 months in the freezer.
The easiest way to thaw it is to simply move it to your refrigerator the day before you’d like to enjoy it. The frozen bacon will thaw slowly and be ready to cook and enjoy the next day.
The freshest bacon is always the BEST bacon!
Sliced Bacon from the Butcher
When you have fresh bacon that’s been carefully sliced by the butcher, it’s best to eat it within a few days at most.
If it’s packaged in butcher paper, you can safely store it for 2 to 3 days. Beyond that time, if you can’t enjoy it right away we recommend freezing it.
Because oxygen is the enemy of fresh bacon, we like to tightly wrap it in plastic wrap or Press ‘n Seal, wrap it again tightly in aluminum foil, put it in a resealable freezer bag, and tuck the package in the coldest part of the freezer.
(Note: You can follow these same guidelines to store vacuum sealed bacon after opening the package.)
How Long Does Pre Cooked Packaged Bacon Last?
You may have noticed the packages of shelf stable bacon like Hormell fully cooked bacon at the store. They aren’t even refrigerated. How is this even possible?
To make bacon safe to store at room temperature (shelf stable), it is precooked in the plant to have a water activity at or below 0.85 to control Staphylococcus aureus.
Shelf stable precooked bacon is preserved by a combination of salt, sugar, smoke and preservatives. The cooked yield is 40% of the raw weight.
This bacon can last unopened on your pantry shelf until the best-by date or expiration date. Once you open the package, however, you should refrigerate it right away and use within 7 days. Be sure to check out these tips for how to store cooked bacon.
How Long Do Unopened Bacon Bits Last?
The little jars and packages of bacon bits and crumbles are also shelf stable. You’ll often find them in the salad dressing aisle at the grocery store.
These packages have a shelf life of up to six months unopened. Once you open the package or jar, reseal tightly and store the bits in the refrigerator and plan to use them within 6 weeks.
If you have any doubt about the freshness of bacon you’ve stored in the fridge, be sure to check out How to Tell When Bacon Is Bad.
Do you have any other questions about storing and cooking delicious bacon? Let us know in the comments below!
-Your friends at BENSA