Before deciding to add more pancetta to your supplies, first, ask yourself this, "how long does pancetta last? Pancetta is quite delicious and a great addition to party platters, sandwiches, salads, and more. But before buying more, you might want to know more about pancetta, its shelf life, nutritional value, and more.
What is Pancetta?
Pancetta originates in Italy. It is widely known and old-fashioned cured meat, mainly of pork belly and is aged in salt. Pancetta is somewhat similar to bacon. The main difference is that it is safer to eat raw pancetta than bacon from the supermarket. Pancetta is commonly sold either rolled or cubed and can be served in an appetizer tray.
You can also use it as a topping for pasta and pizza or in sandwiches. Pancetta is often sauteed together with aromatics when making soups or other dishes. You can buy it from grocery stores and supermarkets. In there, you will find designated sections for meats and other fancier selections, including pancetta.
The Shelf Life and Preservation of Pancetta
Pancetta can be preserved through curing. This is done by using a salt and spice mixture that contain nitrites or nitrates that extend the cured meats' shelf life. Nitrates help in removing excessive moisture from the pork, reducing its water activity.
It also reduces free water available for the development of pathogenic and spoilage-causing microorganisms. Moreover, sodium nitrates are used to prevent botulism-causing bacteria and give pancetta its desirable color and flavor. Nitrates act like time-released nitrites and are used in most pancetta products that need more curing and drying.
Other ingredients of the spice mixture similarly act in significantly preserving pancetta's shelf life. If you maintain pancetta's original packaging, it can last up to a year. Its shelf life is about 2 to 3 weeks in a refrigerator and 3 months in the freezer after opening.
The shelf life of raw pancetta at room temperature
It might be painful for you to throw pancetta away, but this is much better than to end up sick. As a rule, raw meat should not sit out for over four hours, including pancetta. For mass-produced raw pancetta, the typical shelf life at room temperature is 3 to 4 hours.
This number of hours is explicitly set to guide you about bacteria getting into the meat. Harmful bacteria generally do not get into foods that quickly. However, you cannot risk using exposed pancetta if you are running a restaurant.
How long does raw pancetta last in the fridge?
If you keep raw pancetta refrigerated, this can last for a few weeks. You can also freeze it. Wrap a few pancetta slices together in packets, so it's easier to thaw only the amount you need. If wrapped and stored well, you can keep pancetta for six months. If unopened, pancetta can last for two weeks in the fridge, past the "use-by date." If it's opened pancetta, the shelf life is one week.
How long does raw pancetta last in the freezer?
Pancetta oxidizes rapidly, so you need to put it in the freezer after wrapping it carefully. You can store thick-cut slices of pancetta in your freezer for a longer time. However, it loses flavor after a few months. If well wrapped and kept in a freezer, its shelf life is usually six months.
Popular Dishes Using Pancetta
You can make popular dishes using pancetta. After knowing the answer to "how long does pancetta last," you can adequately plan the dishes you want to make with pancetta. Among those you can cook are:
- Warm Potato & Pancetta Salad: This involves cooking thin-skinned and buttery fingerling potatoes in a hot oven until they become creamy inside and crispy outside. As for the pancetta, it can either be cured or unsmoked. If you want to save time, look for pre-diced pancetta. Serve your warm potato and pancetta salad with leafy greens, fish fillets, or eggs.
- Pasta Pancetta: This is a creamy and delicious meal that uses pancetta to make it more flavorful. This delightful pasta dish takes just a little amount of time to make. By using pancetta, you can achieve a unique texture and flavor for the pasta.
- Roast Chicken with Pancetta: This is another popular Pancetta dish that will surely impress. Allow the roast chicken to sit and sprinkle or scatter the pancetta and other spices on top.
Other Common Uses of Pancetta
The following are the common uses of pancetta:
- Add to stuffing-turkey, onions, tomatoes, and chicken
- Add to ground meats
- Add to cheese
- Add to vegetables Sprinkled and sauteed over baked or stuffed potatoes
- Add color to creamy pasta and salads
Cubed Pancetta: Cubed pancetta is commonly used the same way as bacon. This is sauteed with garlic or onions to create a base for pasta, risotto, and soup.
Rolled Pancetta: There are recipes or meals wherein rolled pancetta is used. When cooking these meals, make sure that there are no air pockets inside the pancetta roll.
How Do You Know When Pancetta Has Gone Bad?
One of the basic signs that pancetta has gone bad is when it changes color. They turn brownish, greenish, or grayish. If the smell is off or it smells weird, your pancetta has gone bad. Remember never to use spoiled pancetta.
Now that you know the answer to "how long does pancetta last," you can be confident to use it in any dish you wish to cook. Remember that its shelf life depends on factors like raw or not, preservation method, storage, and more. Keep them in mind for proper and safe use of pancetta.