What to do with all this bacon
December 30, 2008 9:01 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to freeze bacon? Or should I just leave it in the fridge?

So, just got back from Sam's Club where I splurged and bought the box of bacon. There are four 1-pound packs in the box. Now, the thing is, okay, see, I eat bacon. In fact I love the stuff. But there's just no way I'm going to be able to get through the stuff in less than a month - at the earliest. So, can I stick three of the packs in the freezer? I'm worried that the bacon will expand while freezing and break the tightly sealed plastic wrap. Also worried about how it will affect taste. I can always put some bacon in ziploc baggies to give them some extra room. That would help also in rationing out more appropriately sized servings of bacon, which I could then thaw and enjoy when desired.

However, this may be a moot point if bacon lasts essentially forever in its sealed package in the fridge. I don't know exactly what the shelf life is on sealed bacon, but I'm assuming it's pretty long.

Lastly, perhaps it would be wiser still to just make something with all four pounds of the bacon and then work on preserving that. The original idea was to make chocolate covered bacon with my new double-boiler, but the Sam's Club bacon is too thin, so it's off to the store to get thick cut bacon for the explicit purpose of making some delicious piggy confections. That means I've still got a lot of leftover bacon to make soup, bacon bread, bacon salad, bacon whatever.

Mmmmmm - bacon! Any ideas are welcome. Thanks, mefiers.
posted by billysumday to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Love the bacon, but I haven't had good experiences freezing it. I had no issues freezing it in its vacuum wrap, but even after slowly defrosting in the fridge over a couple days, its texture was all...loosey goosey. Hard to describe, but basically when I peeled a strip off, it'd stretch out as if its elasticity was significantly increased.

I'm all ears if someone has found a better method, because my local grocer has frequent 2-for-1's on quality bacon.
posted by skechada at 9:08 AM on December 30, 2008

I've never had any problems with freezing it. What you want to do, though, is wrap up single-serving portions and freeze those, because you don't want to defrost a whole package if you're only going to be using part of it. Once it's defrosted, you need to use it. Don't freeze it again.

Break the packages down into portions you'll eat at one time. Wrap the portions in wax paper, then in aluminum foil. When defrosting, it's best to let them come to room temperature on their own (or put them in the fridge overnight). Don't defrost in the microwave or you'll start to render the fat. That's nasty.

You basically only need to let them defrost until you can peel the strips apart.

You can skip the defrosting entirely if you're going to chop the bacon up and fry it that way. In fact, it's much easier to cut when frozen.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:15 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

We have always frozen bacon still in the vacuum wrap with no significant issues. My husband, who is the bacon cook in the house, says he doesn't notice any degradation of quality in taste or texture, but he also freely admits that he does not have the most refined palate. (I think he would eat beggin' strips if that was all that was on offer bacon-wise.) I say go for it.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:16 AM on December 30, 2008

I can't recall where I saw it, but I do remember seeing on a blog that someone did have success freezing bacon, by just winging the packages in the freezer. It won't keep indefinitely -- nothing frozen will, to be honest -- but it sounded like it kept longer for them than just leaving it in the refrigerator.

It's anecdotal evidence, but I did see it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:16 AM on December 30, 2008

I've never had any issues freezing, defrosting in the microwave (it has an auto-defrost setting that works pretty well) and then re-freezing whatever I didn't use.

In the end it all gets fried crispy anyway.

Though, if you really want to know, do an experiment where some is frozen and some isn't and do a blind taste test. I bet you can't tell the difference. I'm sure others here will object.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:18 AM on December 30, 2008

I freeze bacon all the time and haven't had any issues. I guess it stretches like skechada mentions, but I always associate that will warm bacon rather than specifically frozen bacon. Either way, it cooks up fine to me.

Usually I cut the entire package in half so I have two half-pounds of shorter slices. I wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil.
posted by cabingirl at 9:18 AM on December 30, 2008

Oh, wait, here's where I saw it!

It sounds like they do something above-and-beyond just winging the packages in the freezer, but it sounds like they do that for conveniences' sake (making a sort of jelly-roll kind of thing with plastic wrap around individual slices -- easier than I'm making it sound, if you read the link), but that sounds like it's just for convenience rather than necessity (their technique makes it easy to just get one or two slices to thaw rather than having to thaw a whole package if you just want a couple slices).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:19 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

This site says one month for packaged bacon and six weeks for cooked bacon in the freezer. My grandmother kept her packaged bacon in the freezer. I notice a slight difference in texture but prefer frozen bacon for nostalgic reasons. I miss my grandmother.
posted by studentbaker at 9:21 AM on December 30, 2008

Freeze bacon and cheese all the time. The texture does suffer, but not so much that frozen bacon can't be cooked crispy. (And the cheese is always melted so the crumbly doesn't matter.)

In my experience, bacon that is cooked and then frozen is gross and will ruin any meal it is part of.

One reads about our hearty pioneer forefathers having giant hunks of smoked bacon that hung in the cellar and they just sawed off a hunk for breakfast. Have not seen this in my life and want to.

The FDA says bacon can handle a week in the fridge and month in the freezer. The freezing criteria is quality, not safety.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:23 AM on December 30, 2008

I've been doing this for years, as a single person who only likes bacon on occasion:

I buy a big package of bacon, divide into little packages of 2 strips that I individually wrap in plastic wrap and then pop into the freezer. Over the next couple of months, I take out one package when I feel like eating some bacon, defrost in the microwave (it takes less than a minute) and then pop in the frying pan. Delicious.
posted by meerkatty at 9:36 AM on December 30, 2008

If you roll each slice into a little coil and pack them in a single layer in freezer bags, you can easily break off just the number of coiled slices you want to eat at any given time and only defrost that much.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:37 AM on December 30, 2008

It's just me at my house, and I can't go through a 1-pound thing of bacon before it starts to dry out and get gross. I usually lay slices out on parchment or wax paper (not touching) and freeze them flat. Then I cut the sheets into three or four slice sections and bag 'em up, or sometimes I just lay another sheet on top and roll the whole thing up and bag. They're fine in the freezer for at least a couple months without significant quality loss if they're in an airtight bag without a bunch of ice crystals, and it's easy to grab just a few strips without thawing and re-freezing a whole pound (big freezing no-no).
posted by peachfuzz at 9:40 AM on December 30, 2008

Yup, freezing bacon works perfectly well. Agree with the advice to parcel out into portions and to defrost in the microwave just to the point that you can separate the slices.
posted by yarrow at 9:42 AM on December 30, 2008

I freeze it in ziploc bags, four slices or so per bag -- about all I can eat at any one time. No problems.
posted by chickaboo at 10:22 AM on December 30, 2008

sealed bacon keeps in the fridge basically forever. That was the whole point of smoking/curing meat to begin with, the fact that it's delicious is an added bonus.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:27 AM on December 30, 2008

sealed bacon keeps in the fridge basically forever. That was the whole point of smoking/curing meat to begin with, the fact that it's delicious is an added bonus.

You can't assume that all bacon is really and truly smoked for preservation these days. A lot of commercial bacon has smoke flavor added. The need for that sort of treatment went out the window with refrigeration, so taking the time and expense to do it is unlikely except in the case of really excellent bacon.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:50 AM on December 30, 2008

I freeze bacon all the time. I tend to use three slices at a time, so I wrap them in saran wrap then bung them in the freezer. I use bacon in soups a lot, so I don't even have to thaw it before use. I just slice it and toss it in the pot.

I might try this way next time.

Incidentally, I started doing this when I bought the ginormo pack at Costco too!
posted by apricot at 11:34 AM on December 30, 2008

We freeze it and defrost it (usually in the microwave) everytime we use it. No texture problems, no problems getting it crispy (in fact, I won't eat non-crispy bacon). We usually only defrost it enough to pull off the end pieces, not the whole thing, but that's just because I'm lazy and impatient.
posted by katers890 at 12:22 PM on December 30, 2008

The bacon I bought Sunday has a "use by" date of sometime in March. It's not forever, but it's a good long time. I work under the assumption that the date is only good until the package is opened, then I have a week or two.
posted by indyz at 12:26 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yikes. I consider myself pretty handy in the kitchen, but it honestly never occurred to me to separate the portions out prior to freezing, thus alleviating any bacon stretchage at breakfast time.
posted by skechada at 12:29 PM on December 30, 2008

One reads about our hearty pioneer forefathers having giant hunks of smoked bacon that hung in the cellar and they just sawed off a hunk for breakfast. Have not seen this in my life and want to.

LesserShrew, drop by my place sometime. My roommate is even bigger into preserving meats than I am, and makes his own bacon.

/ Doesn't last long enough to worry about it's preservation.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:57 PM on December 30, 2008

Never had a problem portioning 4 slices and wrapping in saran wrap and freezing, and I take my bacon very very seriously. Defrost either overnight in the fridge or slowly in the microwave. "Good" bacon from the butcher freezes a little better than the vacuum packed stuff from the grocery store. Lower moisture content or because it's actually smoked, maybe.

I've also had luck freezing fried bacon in plastic sandwich bags once cooled. Good for something to crumble over salad or to toss into a sandwich in the morning for lunch. Not great, but frozen cooked bacon is better than no bacon at all. Before crumbling into salads, I sometimes bother to toss them into a toaster oven for a couple of minutes to crisp them up a little.
posted by porpoise at 1:27 PM on December 30, 2008

"sealed bacon keeps in the fridge basically forever."

The vile, rotten bacon I have thrown away months after overly-ambitious Costco trips disagrees with you. (Yes. The bacon itself disagrees. It became one of those refrigerator science projects that can walk and talk.)
posted by Jacqueline at 4:36 PM on December 30, 2008

What's all this defrosting nonsense? I freeze mine rolled in a log with plenty of plastic wrap. Or two thinner logs, so I can fit them in zip-loc bags. It's more work, but it means I can easily portion out what I want. For cooking, I pull off as many pieces as I want, and throw them in the oven (the only way to cook bacon, if you ask me). I never defrost. Why bother? The slices are so thin they'll defrost in the first couple of minutes of cooking.
posted by O9scar at 5:04 PM on December 30, 2008

Seconding 09scar. That's what we do at my restaurant. Straight from the freezer into the oven. Less time, and less mess and overseeing than the stovetop.
posted by cooker girl at 7:58 AM on December 31, 2008

Seconding Jacqueline - I roll each strip into a little bundle, then loosely pack them into a Tupperware container. Then I can just snap off as many slices as needed and start cooking (no defrosting for me either). Saves on fiddling about with gladwrap or freezer paper.
posted by harriet vane at 6:11 AM on January 1, 2009

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