I’ll confess, even I have had problems figuring out how to tell if bacon is undercooked. This can be especially challenging if you’re not a fan of crispy bacon – I mean, where’s the line!
But hopefully now, we’ll both be able to tell when bacon is done just by its texture and color! Before that though, I should go over some basic common questions about bacon – so, let’s start!
Table of Contents
- The Basics Of Bacon
- How To Tell Your Bacon Is Undercooked
- What Does Undercooked Bacon Look Like – Signs To Search For
- Best Tips And Tricks On Cooking Bacon Anywhere
- Eating Undercooked Bacon – Bacon And Food Poisoning
- Undercooked Bacon? Never Again!
The Basics Of Bacon
Before talking discussing how to tell if bacon is undercooked, its important to understand the differences between bacon and other meats. It’s also good to know what kind of textures and colors you should expect when cooking.
Unlike other some other food products, the process of curing or smoking alone does not make bacon safe to eat! This means that any uncooked bacon classifies as a raw product and must be cooked before consumption – this includes smoked or cured bacon. To keep it simple, any pork product that is not described as ’ham’ needs to be cooked before eating. This is why its important to tell if your bacon is undercooked.
If your bacon is excessively chewy, it may be undercooked. However, some people like to eat bacon at a stage a little before it starts to crisp up – this bacon may have a very slight chewy texture to it. If you’re eating some bacon that seems suspicious, its better to be safe than sorry!
Bacon doesn’t always have to be crispy – it mostly depends on your preferences and what the dish calls for. If you don’t want to cook your bacon to the point of crispiness, just take it off the heat before the fat starts to caramelize.
To tell if your bacon is undercooked, just look at the color! Cooked bacon tends to have a deep, brown-tinted red coloration. It’s fat may range in color from white to gold and its texture is very different to raw bacon.
How To Tell Your Bacon Is Undercooked
What Does Raw Bacon Look Like?
Raw bacon is flat, long, and pinkish-red in color. Its generally pretty light with cooler tones and off-white colored fat. It might have a slight green shimmer to it and has much more of a wet or slimy feel than cooked bacon. It’s also a lot more flexible than cooked bacon, especially very crispy cooked bacon.
What Does Cooked Bacon Look Like?
Cooked bacon can vary slightly in texture – some cooked bacon is almost brittle, while others are a little chewier. It mostly depends on how long the bacon has been cooked for. All cooked bacon tends to be much darker than raw bacon – its closer to brown than pink and the color of the fat ranges from off-white to golden.
What Does Undercooked Bacon Look Like – Signs To Search For
Whether your microwave bacon is undercooked, or you’re concerned that bacon is undercooked on the BBQ, these signs will help you to determine if you really should be worried.
While people like their bacon cooked to different points, the signs I’ve listed here will show in any bacon – regardless of if its been cooked to the point of crispiness. Once you see these signs in your bacon, you either can cook it further or take it off the heat. Check what your dish calls for or simply cook to preference!
As bacon cooks, it’s color palette changes completely. From light grayish pink and creamy off-white, your bacon will turn a deeper red in color and the fat becomes yellow or golden. When your bacon’s color begins to change, make sure to monitor it more closely. If your bacon starts to get too dark, you may be overcooking it – this is not desirable as it will make your bacon very brittle and bitter.
When bacon has cooked for a while, its likely to accumulate something called fond – basically all the little brown bits that get stuck to the bottom of your pan. You may have even noticed that it brings out some amazing flavors in your food! Well-cooked bacon is likely to have some fond from the rendered fat caramelizing on it.
Like burgers shrinking, bacon shrinks during cooking due to the evaporation of moisture in the meat. In fact, bacon actually shrinks by around 40%! That’s 15% more than other meat and poultry. Because bacon shrinks so quickly, it has a tendency to puff up – usually, the edges will curl and your bacon will start looking ’wavy’. The fat on the bacon might also take on a ruffled appearance. The only way to avoid this is to use a griddle smasher whilst cooking on something like a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Either way, shrinking and puffing are sure-fire signs that your bacon is well on it’s way to being done!
During the cooking process, the heat of your pan will cause the fat on your bacon to render away. Because so much fat melts away (giving your bacon that lovely distinct flavor), the strips of fat on your cooked bacon may look much, much thinner. In some cases, it might even cause bits of bacon to break off!
This is because the strips of fat hold all the meat together when raw. However, as both the meat and the fat cook, they shrink, causing them to separate. This might make smaller pieces come off or dangle from your bacon.
Raw bacon is wet and slimy to the touch, whereas cooked bacon is generally quite dry – especially if you dabbed away the grease with a paper towel. If the bacon’s fat rendered lots, or you added oil to the pan, it’ll probably be oily or greasy but not slimy.
Cooked bacon should lift easily from the pan, without dangling or drooping off the sides of your spatula as it will be much stiffer than raw bacon. The only cooked bacon that should ever dangle are bits of bacon that have come loose, not the whole slice.
Best Tips And Tricks On Cooking Bacon Anywhere
This video is a great visual guide to follow if you’re wondering when is bacon done in oven, or are having trouble telling if thick bacon is cooked. Posted by Epicurious and featuring chef Frank Proto, this video goes through all the best and worst ways to cook bacon.
Eating Undercooked Bacon – Bacon And Food Poisoning
Before 40 years ago, raw pork was feared due to trichinosis as this parasite was very common in all pigs – home-reared and industrially-farmed alike. Nowadays, there is very little concern for the spread of trichinosis as prevention techniques have been implemented in the farming industry.
However, there are some countries without specific policies in place in regards to rearing pigs for consumption. In these places, trichinosis is more likely to be encountered so great care must be taken in cooking pork. The same goes for wild game anywhere, as these animals have not undergone treatment to prevent illness.
So, with that being said…
Is It Ok If Bacon Is A Little Pink?
While it’s always best to ensure your meat is fully cooked, if you find that your bacon is only slightly pink in the middle, you might be alright. As long as your bacon has been cooked at temperatures high enough to kill any E. coli and other contaminants, your meat is safe to eat. Still, it’s better to put it on the flame again – just in case!
Can You Eat Slightly Undercooked Bacon?
If ’slightly undercooked’ just means that your bacon is a tiny bit chewier than you expected or is ever-so-slightly pink in the middle, then yes, it is safe to eat. Still, it’s best to put it back on the flame, just to be sure.
What Happens If I Eat Undercooked Bacon?
If you examine your bacon and find that it was indeed undercooked, let someone know that you consumed food that was potentially unsafe. Be on the look out for any symptoms of food poisoning, and follow government/health guidelines. Even still, if you’re eating bacon in Europe or North America, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.
How Long After Eating Undercooked Bacon Will I Get Sick?
This question has lots of different answers, all depending on what kind of sickness you get. In fact, you might not even get sick at all! While researching this, I read about a butcher who has regularly eaten raw bacon to scare others which was… Jarring, to say the least. While it might look like a
crazy fun party trick, you can get pretty ill from eating uncooked bacon.
If you get food poisoning, there can be a lot of variation between the onset of symptoms as it can be caused by any number of bacteria or viruses. However, it’s more likely to set in faster – generally from a few hours to a day after consumption.
Trichinosis, however, may take a good bit longer because of it’s parasitic nature (YUCK). Mild symptoms can start after two days, but they won’t always. The real trouble comes about 2 weeks later, with classic symptoms including facial swelling and feverishness.
Either way, fatal infection is rare with both! Just be sure to talk to a healthcare professional if you suspect you have gotten sick from eating uncooked meat.
Undercooked Bacon? Never Again!
Now that we’ve covered everything to do with undercooking bacon, you should be all set! Just remember – if your bacon’s color and texture have changed considerably while cooking at a high temperature, it’s good to eat.
Finding it hard to tell if bacon is undercooked? If you pay close attention to the texture and color of your bacon, it’s actually quite easy to figure out!