do you wash bacon before cooking

It sounds like a quick, easy, and cheap “life hack” that I’ve seen on a few websites: rinse your bacon under cold water to make it shrink less when it’s cooking.

Should You Wash Bacon Before Cooking It?

That sizzling, savory smell of bacon frying in the morning is downright mouthwatering But before you toss those strips in the pan, should you give them a quick rinse first? Washing meat is controversial Is it really necessary or safe with bacon? Or does it just wash away flavor?

Let’s look at the reasons some advocate washing bacon, as well as why you may want to skip the sink.

Why Some Say to Wash Bacon

Those in favor of washing bacon before cooking offer these main rationales:

  • Removes excess salt – Bacon contains a lot of sodium. Washing could rinse off some surface salt.

  • Gets rid of cure residue – Rinsing may wash away leftover cure ingredients like sodium nitrite.

  • Removes germs – Washing could decrease any bacteria present on the surface.

  • Cleans off grime – It may rinse away any dirt, dust, or debris on the bacon.

  • Cuts greasiness – Some feel washing leaches out fat, making the bacon less greasy.

So in theory, quickly rinsing bacon under water could yield cleaner, less salty meat. But is this theory backed by science?

Why Washing Bacon is Pointless

There are several reasons why washing bacon is unnecessary and ineffective:

  • Curing penetrates meat – Salmonella and other germs are killed during curing. Washing won’t remove them.

  • Salt is infused – The salt in bacon is infused into the meat, not sitting on the surface. Rinsing won’t remove it.

  • Washing spreads germs – Splashing water may spread bacteria around the sink and countertops.

  • Fat won’t rinse away – The fat content is ingrained in the pork. It won’t just rinse off.

  • Flavor lost – Any salty, smoky flavor coating the bacon could get washed down the drain.

  • Bacon will brown fine – Not rinsing doesn’t prevent proper browning and crisping during cooking.

  • Modern packaging is clean – New vacuum-sealed packages prevent contamination during storage and transport.

So science confirms that washing bacon is essentially pointless. The curing, smoking, and vacuum-sealing processes make rinsing bacon unnecessary from a safety or quality standpoint.

The Potential Risks of Washing Bacon

Washing bacon doesn’t provide benefits, and it could actually increase your risk in certain ways:

  • Cross-contamination – Splashing water spreads germs. better to keep raw meat isolated.

  • Dilutes preservatives – Washing may dilute nitrites/nitrates that inhibit bacteria growth.

  • Delays cooking – Standing at the sink delays getting bacon in the pan, letting bacteria multiply.

  • Bacon water disposal – How to properly dispose of the bacteria-laden water from washing bacon?

For these reasons, food safety experts agree that washing raw bacon entails more risk than reward.

Quick Bacon Rinsing Tips

If you absolutely must rinse your bacon, follow these tips:

  • Use cold water – Avoid warm water, as bacteria multiply faster in warm temps.

  • Don’t soak – Just a quick 5-10 second rinse. Don’t let bacon sit in water.

  • Pat dry – Blot with paper towels after rinsing to remove excess moisture.

  • Cook immediately – Cook bacon right after rinsing. Don’t let it air dry or sit out.

  • Disinfect sink – Clean and disinfect sink and surfaces thoroughly after washing meats.

But even with these precautions, washing still provides no real advantage. For optimal safety and flavor, your best bet is to cook bacon directly as-is from the package.

The Bottom Line

While some people insist on rinsing bacon before cooking it, food safety experts agree that washing raw bacon is both ineffective and introduces risks. The curing process ensures safety, while rinsing won’t remove fat or salt. For best results, cook bacon straight from the package. Focus on safe handling, proper cooking, and cross-contamination prevention instead for a tasty and safe bacon experience.

do you wash bacon before cooking

Rinsing Bacon With Cold Water to Keep It From Shrinking: Fact or Fiction?

To keep bacon from shrinking you must first know why bacon shrinks when you cook it. In case you didn’t just click on that link, here’s the tl;dr version.

Bacon shrinks when cooking for two primary reasons.

  • Fat in the bacon, and
  • Water the meat processor used to cure the bacon.

Bacon fat will render (or melt and turn into bacon grease) when cooking. This is a simple fact: if something you are cooking is going to melt, it will get smaller. More fat = more shrinkage.

When cooked, bacon that has been cured with a lot of water will lose a lot of that water through evaporation.

Rinsing your bacon with cold water just gives you wetter bacon.

Think about it. Where was your bacon before you got it ready to cook? If you follow safe food storage practices, it was in the refrigerator! If it was in the fridge it is already cold. Running cold water on it after you take cold bacon out of the fridge might actually warm up the bacon! Most refrigerators are kept at about 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water from the tap is typically coming out at more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In reality, all you’re doing is warming up the bacon before putting it in the pan to cook.

Running cold water over your bacon to keep it from shrinking will also remove any tasty seasonings and rubs that were added if you bought flavored bacon. So, not only do you have wet, warm bacon, but now it’s tasteless too.

This idea that running cold water over bacon will keep it from shrinking is a terrible myth that needs to die.

  • Water makes bacon wetter.
  • The water is warmer than the bacon that you just got from the fridge.
  • Water washes off the flavor.

Rinse your lettuce, but don’t rinse your bacon.

You Should Be Doing This To Bacon Before You Cook It

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