How long can you keep pancetta in the fridge?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you keep pancetta in the fridge?”, and how to cook with pancetta?

How long can you keep pancetta in the fridge?

An unopened package of pancetta has a shelf-life of about 1 year. Once opened, it only lasts 2-3 weeks in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer.

The shelf-life of commercially produced pancetta at room temperature is 3-4 hours. It is recommended to not let it sit out for more than 2 hours. Refrigerate or freeze the pancetta if you do not intend to consume it within 2 hours.

The preservation of pancetta 

The preservation method used for pancetta is curing. Curing involves rubbing the pork with slat rich in nitrates and nitrites and some spices. Nitrates draw the excess moisture from the pork that results in the reduced water activity and shelf stability.

Free water is basically what is available for the growth of microbes, both spoilage and pathogenic. All the other water in the pork is chemically bound and is unavailable for use by the microbes. 

In addition to the prevention of the growth of botulism-causing bacteria, nitrates impart color and flavor to the pork. The other spices used for making pancetta have excellent anti-microbial properties and help preserve the quality of pork. 

How to cook with pancetta?

Warm Potato & Pancetta Salad: You can use either cured or unsmoked pancetta for this purpose. This dish involves baking fingerling potatoes in the oven until they become crispy from the outside and soft and creamy from the inside. 

Buttery fingerling potatoes fresh out of the oven are served along with pancetta salad over a beg of leafy green or along with fish fillets or eggs.

Pasta Pancetta: Creamy pasta with the flavorful pancetta! Oh so yummy! This is a must-try combination and is a delicious way to improvise pasta.

Roast chicken with Pancetta: The lemony and buttery roasted chicken topped with pancetta is a perfect dinnertime meal when you are expecting guests over or even for two. The anchovies, thyme, and bay leaves impart a very earthy flavor to the roasted chicken. 

Cubed Pancetta: Cubed Pancetta is treated like bacon. Pancetta cubes are sauteed with onions and some garlic. This sauteed mixture makes for a good filling and can also be added to pasta, risotto,  or soup.

How to make Pancetta Arrotolata (Rolled) at home?

The meat 

  • Pork belly, skin on preferable, removed fine

The cure 

  • 2.75% kosher salt
  • 0.25% cure #1 — or — cure #2 (see directions)
  • 1.75% brown sugar
  • 1.8% whole black peppercorns
  • 0.5% red pepper flakes
  • 0.5% juniper berries
  • 0.25% garlic powder
  • 0.25% thyme, dried
  • 0.15% bay leaf, dried

Instructions 

  1. Make a water and vinegar solution by mixing them in equal parts. To reduce the initial bacterial load of the pork belly, wash and soak it in the vinegar solution. 
  1. Cure #1 is used for treating cooked and semi-dried pancetta while cure #2 is used for traditional, fully-dried pancetta.
  1. To make the cure mixture, combine and pulse all the ingredients in a spice grinder.
  1. Coat the pork belly thoroughly with the curing mixture. The mixture that falls off should be incorporated during wrapping.
  1. Tightly wrap the pork belly with multiple layers of cling film and stick it in the fridge for 2 weeks. Place a solid plate beneath the curing meat to catch the drippings. Flip the meat after every 2-4 days.
  1. After 2 weeks, wash the cured meat and let it dry.
  1. Toast peppercorns in a heated pan. Lightly crush them and generously coat the meaty side of the pork belly with these broken peppercorns. 
  1. The pork belly should be rolled as tightly as possible with its meaty side inside the role and skin side facing out.
  1. Place a butcher’s knot at each side of the belly. Then tie the entire pork belly tightly.
  1. Weight the tied belly. Stick a tag on the belly with its recorded weight and date.
  1. Hang the pork belly over a kitchen sink, or in a basement or any other area with a higher percentage of relative humidity. 

The temperature should be maintained below 70℉. For bonus points, wrap the pancetta in a cotton cloth/cheesecloth. 

  1. To make semi-dried pancetta, a month of aging or drying is required. This pancetta needs to be cooked before consumption. 

Fully cured and dried can be eaten without cooking.  It is prepared when the hanging pancetta loses 205 of its weight. 

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “How long can you keep pancetta in the fridge?”, and how to cook with pancetta?

References

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.