View Full Version : How long is bacon good for?

2005-10-31, 02:23
I haven't had to deal with keeping bacon for more than a few days, but next summer I might be spending a large amount of time without any form of refrigeration. (months)
So how long does bacon last... I know it was a staple in the old days and was thinking (and somewhat dreading) that it might end up becoming one of mine.

2005-10-31, 03:39
That is a good question. I had to to some surching on the subject and found the following link. I have heard of people storing bacon for long periods of time on the trail West in the 1800's and this looks like it would work, i'm going to try it.


2005-10-31, 11:18
i've not checked out the link, but i think they smoked it a lot more back then... i've eaten some pretty old german landjaeger (sort of like a hotdog sized summer sausage that's been smashed flat, then double smoked), after a couple weeks without refrigeration... it was really dried out, but still good. i'm sure bacon would be the same way... you might find someone who still makes and smokes his own bacon, and ask him to leave it in longer for you.

2005-10-31, 11:32
Have you thought about the selection of i think this is right air cured hams ie pancheta and other italian sosauges the ham is rubbed in salt then hung outside to cure im sure theres more to it then that but you get my drift, that will last for ages

2005-10-31, 12:27
I'm chiming in with the other posters. I do suspect that the old time bacon was smoked longer. It was drier when stored, and UNSLICED. You may have noticed that ground (even sliced) meats spoil faster than whole cuts. More air to get to the exposed sides, plus just cutting introduces some contamination. Our forebears were used to having to slice off moldy parts, too.


Jim Henderson
2005-10-31, 12:32
Yeah, I think the old fashioned bacon and other smoked meats were much more heavilly smoked and salted than the supermarket varieties.

I have had "real" country ham and it is almost like shoe leather when fresh and smells questionable and may have gray fuzz on it and is extremely salty. But a quick soak in water and it is reconstituted but still it is a taste to be acquired. That is why some companies also sell "City" ham. I have tried out Burger's Smoke house brands and their stuff is pretty good but their more authentic selections are very different from store bought products.

I suspect bacon is in the same boat.

Most "city" products have a fair amount of water added which is bad for storage and not good for your back.

Maybe they might talk to you and recommend a safe bacon and other meats?

Some of their articles are fairly informative.

Good Luck,

Jim Henderson

2005-10-31, 17:50
you can still buy what i think is called a 'virginia ham', at least at my walmart here in LA. it's a big heavy hunk of meat covered in a cloth of some sort, and it's LOADED with salt... haven't had one in decades but mom used to buy them in VA and had to soak them overnight to get the salt out, or that was the theory... that might be an option-buy one, cut off what you need, and keep scraping fuzz off as needed... (grosses my wife out, but i've done that with an old landjaeger and some cheeses... )

2005-11-01, 22:29
Most all fully cooked hams of the type you eat regularly have water added, and cure removed, which makes them susceptible to spoilage. The Virginia-type hams are thoroughly cured until most of the water is removed, and then heavily smoked. With the exception of the occasional mold on the exposed surface, which can be cut off to reveal good meat below, these hams keep indefinitely. 1 pound of the stuff goes a very very long way, and is extremely salty, so adjust your usage after working with it at home first.

Kea, who cooks all kinds of weird stuff.

Jim Henderson
2005-11-02, 13:52
One other thing...

I have seen canned bacon, a little pricy but not as bad as real country bacon.

There are also precooked, aseptic packaged(plastic wrapped and boxed sterile) bacon, very pricey BUT, no extra weight since the fat has already been cooked out. I think a box of about 20 fully cooked sealed strips weighs something like 2-3 ounces. Of course if you want the fat, it ain't there.

Jim Henderson

bird dog
2005-11-02, 19:46
Have you thought about summer sausage as an alternative? You know, the stuff thats in the package with the little slices of cheese and jellies that you get for Christmas from people who dont like you very much? Im convinced that there is probably only one of those packages (and only one fruit cake) that is passed as a gift from year to year to people all around the world then rewrapped and given as a gift again the following year. BD :biggrin:

2005-11-03, 01:34
actually, my walmart carries those summer sausage things year round now, on the snack aisle... 'beefstick-it's not just for christmas anymore...' back in ny, i could get landjaeger... dang, i miss that... now i have to wait for my dad to bring some when he visits... and then ration it...

2005-11-03, 14:47
Yo! Brother BD long time no hear.

You may have an Idea there. But I do remember when I cooked that summer sausage once and it tastes really bad when cooked.

I have had great luck packing a stick of hard salami pepperoni, and bagels.
Last August I packed them on the Ellicott for 4 days and three nights. As you know it rains in that part of SC/TN daily.
But the meat never spoiled, and the bread stayed fresh even in the heat.

I wonder how long it would keep? I might bet up to seven days. Can't test my theory, can't get that much time on the trail. LOL

You stay safe out there me thinks troubled times are coming.

Pappy (Former Char-Meck)

2005-11-03, 15:12
you could always leave a package of 'trial' (no, not 'trail') food hanging in a bag of some sort out in your garage for a week or ten days... check on it daily, and see if you'd still eat it... maybe cut off a small piece of summer sausage each day until you thought it tasted funny...

(i'm not gonna try it. YOU try it. I'M not gonna try it. Hey, let's get Mikey!)(or some unnamed poster we would like to use as bait for being a public nuisance.)

2005-11-03, 16:41
Seeker very good.
Momma may have a problem,using the garage as a testing zone.
Funny stuff, thank you for the laugh.
Needed that, made a tuff day better.LOL

2005-11-03, 18:41
you're welcome... having a tough day myself, and my sense of humor usually goes 'strange' in those cases... have made a few strange posts over on WB too, due to my 'mood' and workload...

no advice on dealing with 'momma'... mine lets me put worms in the fridge, so i can't complain, until she moved 'em to the bottom shelf and they froze! poor worms...i felt really bad. probably due to the waste... they died for nothing, not helping me fish... oh well.

might ask her her opinion, and see what develops...

2005-11-03, 23:01
depending upon how a meat is processed it can last a LONG time without spoiling, remain fresh and tender and entirely safe to eat...even raw.

Consider jamon serrano "mountain ham." It comes from the Catalonian region of Spain and is eaten raw after an extended curing time (up to 18 or even 24 months dry curing in cool conditions). This ham is never cooked, just salted to draw off excess moisture and dry cured. It is delicious, tender and expensive as all get out (as much as 180.00 for a single large ham). Italian prosciutto is a similar concept.

Bacon would keep well if it were not sliced.

2005-11-03, 23:09
Another thing.

My brother in law grew up on an island in/off Maine, a lobster-fishing island. He grew up on dried fish. They would salt and dry the filets out on the wharff and they would keep pretty much forever. When you wanted some fish for a meal, you hacked a chunk off, soaked it in water to rehydrate it (changing the water pretty frequently to reduce the saltiness) and when fully reconstituted, cook it up as you chose. This was normal until the early to middle 20th century in the US and long afterwards in remote areas like my brother-in-law's island where they still do this. The stuff stored without much fuss or muss, it was pretty much scent free so long as you kept it dry. My B.I.L. used to chew on it like jerky.

2005-11-04, 13:19
the concept sounds good, but i'm not big on fish...

guess i should get a dehydrator and see how dry i can get something... i've done meat in the oven, set low, but it tends to cook it some, before it starts to get dry... i usually store it in the freezer, just to lengthen the time it keeps...

2005-11-04, 22:58
One trick used on extended canoe trips is to wrap bacon in cheesecloth soaked in vinegar. I don't know why it extends the time it will keep - but it does.

2005-11-05, 00:38
I know the virginia style ham (we used to call it country ham) will last forever. I see them hanging in the grocery store on a rack somewhere with dust on them. Those things are REAL salty. I got to thinking, just add a little ham to your food and leave out the salt. Meat and seasoning all in one!

I'm not very experienced with dehydrators but I was thinking, what if you dehydrated your bacon, then soaked in water before cooking? Is this a feasible idea?


2005-11-05, 01:07
The problem with bacon is that the high fat content would go rancid unless it is HEAVILY cured and smoked. You're really better off with dried salt pork.

2005-11-07, 07:09
One trick used on extended canoe trips is to wrap bacon in cheesecloth soaked in vinegar. I don't know why it extends the time it will keep - but it does.

i think it has something to do with the acidity killing bacteria... i used to run a cleaning service, and our commercial bathroom sanitizer was essentially very diluted phosphoric acid... same as pickle juice, i'd guess... and why ketchup doesn't go bad sitting out in a restaurant... or steak sauce...