Duck fat is an excellent cooking fat for roasting potatoes or making a delicious gravy, thanks to its rich, savory taste and high smoke point. But when should you expect it to go bad?
Duck fat can last up to 6 months when stored properly in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Its shelf life can be extended if kept in the freezer, where it can remain good for up to a year or more.
Below, I’ll cover the ins and outs of duck fat storage, sign it’s gone bad, and more!
What is the shelf life of duck fat?
The shelf life of duck fat depends on various factors, including how it’s processed, stored, and the presence of any contaminants.
Generally, duck fat has a relatively long shelf life due to its high saturated fat content, which helps to slow down the process of oxidation and rancidity. When stored properly, duck fat can last for several months to a year. It should have an expiration date or “best by” date printed on the jar/container.
Shelf-stable duck fat doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can last a VERY long time when kept sealed – often several years.
But let’s be real – duck fat is so good that you’re probably going to open that container sooner rather than later!
How long does duck fat last after opening?
Once you’ve opened duck fat, it’s best to keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
To extend the shelf life of opened duck fat even further, you can consider freezing it. When stored in the freezer, duck fat can last for up to 1 year or even longer.
Pro tip: Portion the fat into smaller containers or use an ice cube tray for easier portioning!
|Sealed duck fat
|Open duck fat
Can you use duck fat after its expiration date?
So, the expiration date has come and gone. Can you still use that duck fat?
If it’s just a tad past its prime, give it a whiff. If it smells and looks okay, you may still be able to use it.
But be cautious. To ensure food safety, it’s generally best to adhere to the expiration dates provided by the manufacturer and to store food items properly according to their storage instructions.
How to tell if duck fat has gone bad
If the duck fat has passed its expiration date, it’s a good idea to be extra cautious and perform the checks below:
Check the appearance:
- Fresh duck fat should be a clear, pale yellow or ivory color.
- If it has turned brown, gray, or has any unusual discoloration, it’s a sign that it may have gone bad.
- Fresh duck fat has a pleasant, savory aroma, reminiscent of roasted duck.
- If the fat smells rancid, sour, or has an off-putting odor, it’s a clear indication that it’s no longer good to use.
Taste a tiny bit:
- If you’re unsure, you can taste a very small amount.
- Fresh duck fat should have a rich, savory, and slightly nutty flavor.
- If it tastes off, bitter, or sour, discard it immediately.
Observe the texture:
- Duck fat should have a smooth, consistent texture.
- If you notice any lumps, clumps, or an unusual grainy or slimy texture, it’s a sign that it may have deteriorated.
Check the container:
- If there’s any damage or rust on the container, it might have compromised the fat inside.
- Ensure the lid or cap is securely sealed. If it’s not, it might have allowed air and moisture to enter, leading to spoilage.
In general, trust your senses when assessing duck fat. If it looks, smells, or tastes anything other than fresh and savory, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it!
What’s the danger in using duck fat after it’s gone bad?
Using rancid duck fat isn’t just about sacrificing flavor. It could potentially harm your health.
When fats and oils like duck fat spoil, they can become a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, mold, and yeast. These microorganisms can multiply rapidly and produce toxins that are harmful if ingested.
This may lead to digestive issues, inflammation, or even allergic reactions in some individuals.
Best storage practices for duck fat
Preventing duck fat from going bad starts with proper storage.
Here’s how to do it right:
- After each use, make sure the container is sealed tightly to prevent exposure to air and moisture.
- Unopened containers are happy in your pantry. But once opened, they prefer the cooler and more consistent temperatures of the fridge or freezer.
- Use clean utensils to scoop out the fat. Crumbs or water droplets are sneaky culprits that can cause duck fat (and other fats like butter) to go bad faster.
- For long-term storage, freezing is your best friend. Portion the duck fat into smaller containers, leaving some room for expansion. Label them with dates, so you know what’s what.
- When you need some duck fat, move it from the freezer to the fridge a day before you plan to use it. Slow defrosting helps maintain the quality.
Check for changes in color, texture, smell, and taste. If it looks weird, smells off, or tastes funky, it’s likely gone bad.
After opening, duck fat will last about 6 months in the fridge. If unopened, it can last up to 1 year in the fridge.
For short-term use, store it in the fridge. For longer storage, freeze it in smaller portions with proper labeling.
Yes, even duck fat spray has an expiration date. Check the label for the manufacturer’s recommendations.