Dry Cured Country Bacon - Shelf Life?
Earlier this fall I got my hands on some Broadbent's dry cured country bacon and ham slices. A couple of different kinds, all in 4oz packages. The packages clearly stated no refrigeration required, and they were being sold pretty much from a basket on top of a hay bale at a farm stand.
I've used the product before and never put much thought into it, but today when I went to the company's website to look for recipes I noted they state the items have a 3 month shelf life. When I looked over my stash it all appeared to still be in the condition I purchased it (a few packets were in the fridge, most are in my cupboard, house is about 68-70 degrees year round). None of them were puffy, etc, all were still tightly sealed.
My first problem is, none of the packages have any sort of date on them so even though I know when I bought them, I've no idea how old they were then.
I cooked up a packet today of what was applewood smoked country bacon, and really its much more like country ham. Thick slices, lots of meat, fat with rind etc. It smelled ok, the bite I had tasted ok etc. If I'm here the day after tomorrow it didn't poison me. Obviously its really strong, but in a country ham way, not in a "I'm rancid" way. I do like country ham and I'm used to the flavor, although I know some of the more timid members of my family would refuse to eat this stuff and that's even if it was 1 day off the production line.
So, its all good right? Maybe stuff the rest in the fridge or freezer just for my peace of mind and go from there.
Any tell tale signs besides being slimy, moldy or having a smell that makes you run straight for the wastebin to look for? (Admittedly country ham makes some people want to do that anyway).
Our ancestors ate it, unsealed, over the entire winter, cooked as it got slightly dubious. But they kept it in cold cellars dug in the ground to keep it cool. They scraped off any "bloom."
The odds are the manufacturers are being cautious but as fall starts in Sept, you're still pretty close to 3 months.