How Long Can Bacon Sit Out (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 4 Hours

Normally used as a side dish during breakfast, or as a minor ingredient in a recipe, bacon had always been a favorite for most food lovers. Bacon is made from the pig’s belly or back, which after the removal of spare ribs, is cured, either dry or in a pickle, and smoked, and usually have a rich salty taste to them.

Bacon is also nutritious for our body as it is rich in many nutrients, including protein and vitamins. Bacon is also available in different types such as uncured bacon and cured bacon. Cured bacon can be further categorized into dry-cured and wet-cured, according to the process that they follow.

How Long can Bacon Sit Out?

Uncured packaged Bacon4 hours
Dry-cured packaged Bacon10 days
Cooked Bacon2 hours

As bacon is a type of meat, you surely cannot keep it outside the refrigerator for too long. Any kind of meat should not be left outside the refrigerator for more than 2-4 hours. If left outside the refrigerator for more than 4 hours, the meat will no longer be edible, as bacteria will grow and spread over the meat faster than you think.

In the same way, how long you can keep bacon at room temperature depends upon the type of bacon and its packaging. But once all of these types of bacon are cooked, then it can only last for only 2 hours at room temperature.

The dry-cured bacon has got the advantage of lasting for a longer time, even when it’s cooked. As the dry-cured bacon prevents the growth of bacteria even when it’s cooked, it can probably last for a whole night as well. But it’s still not preferred to keep the bacon out, as there is a possibility of the bacon becoming chewy. It is because the longer the bacon is outside the refrigerator it will turn cold and its texture will be changed as well.

Once the types of bacon have exceeded the respective time limit, they start giving out a sour smell. Along with it, the color of the bacon also starts to change from red color to grey-brown color. If you notice these changes in your bacon, then that bacon has been spoiled, and consuming such bacon can lead to certain health risks, like food poisoning, etc.

Why can Bacon Sit Out That Long?

Being a type of meat, bacon also cannot last for a longer period outside the refrigerator. When the temperature is between 40°F and 140°F, bacteria start to grow and spread on the surface of the bacon rapidly. It doesn’t take much time for the bacon to smell and taste sour.

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Uncured bacon is typically cured with a form of celery and natural nitrates, along with plain sea salt, and doesn’t include sodium nitrates. Due to this, the bacon can’t prevent the growth of bacteria for a longer period. It can only last for up to 4 hours when it’s still unopened and uncooked. But, once it’s cooked, it can only last for 2 hours.

But in case of the dry-cured bacon, it is cured using sodium nitrates and salt. Because of this, when the bacon is left out of the refrigerator, the surface dries out, and sodium nitrates also help in preventing the growth of bacteria. Thus, dry-cured sliced bacon can last for almost 10 days, when it’s uncooked and unopened. But once it’s cooked then it can last for up to 2 hours outside the refrigerator. Although some say that it can last for a whole day as well, the taste will be compromised, and no food lover will ever compromise the taste.

As mentioned before, how long the bacon can stay out of the refrigerator, depends on the quality, type, and packaging of the bacon. That’s why it’s always recommended to keep an eye on the bacon so that you’ll know whether it’s spoiled or not by its smell and texture.

Conclusion

Thus, to enjoy the best flavor of the bacon, you’ll have to look out for the bacon when it’s kept outside the refrigerator. When kept outside, it should be free from contamination due to bacteria. Yet it will still be recommended to keep the bacon in the refrigerator or freezer so that it can last for a longer period.

If you want the bacon to last for a longer period outside the refrigerator, then it’s preferred to use dry-cured sliced bacon. And you’ll have to consume it before it turns bad. If you remember all the important points stated above, then you’ll be able to taste that unique flavor of bacon at your breakfast or lunch, irrespective of whether the type of bacon.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814604001943
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf960973b
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