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The Truth About Rinsing Bacon with Cold Water

It sounds like a quick, simple, and affordable “life hack” which I’ve seen on several websites; rinse your bacon under cold water to reduce the amount it shrinks when cooking.

Let’s explore why it does or maybe why it doesn’t work.

Rinsing Bacon With Cold Water to Keep It From Shrinking: Fact or Fiction?

To keep bacon from shrinking you must first know why bacon shrinks when you cook it. In case you didn’t just click on that link, here’s the tl;dr version.

Bacon shrinks when cooking for two primary reasons.

  1. Fat in the bacon, and
  2. Water the meat processor used to cure the bacon.

Bacon fat will render (or melt and turn into bacon grease) when cooking. It’s not rocket science: if a portion of the thing you are cooking will melt, then it will get smaller. More fat = more shrinkage.

Bacon injected with lots of water for curing will lose a lot of water when cooking due to evaporation.

Rinsing your bacon with cold water just gives you wetter bacon.

Think about it. Where was your bacon before you got it ready to cook? If you follow safe food storage practices, it was in the refrigerator! If it was in the fridge it is already cold. Running cold water on it after you take cold bacon out of the fridge might actually warm up the bacon! Most refrigerators are kept at about 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water from the tap is typically coming out at more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. So really, you are doing nothing more than warming up your bacon before putting in your pan and…warming it up to cook.

Also, running cold water on your bacon to keep it from shrinking also washes off any of the delicious seasonings and rubs that might been added if you purchased a flavored bacon. So, not only do you have wet, warm bacon, but now it’s tasteless too.

Let’s review the reasons why running cold water on your bacon to keep it from shrinking is a terrible myth that needs to go away.

  1. Water makes bacon wetter.
  2. The water is warmer than the cold bacon you just took out of the fridge.
  3. Water washes off the flavor.

Rinse your lettuce, but don’t rinse your bacon.

How Do I Stop My Bacon From Shrinking?

The only sure way to minimize bacon shrinkage is to start with a high quality bacon crafted by small butcher shops who take pride in their products and their customers. That $2.99 bacon you bought at the grocery store? There’s a reason it’s only $2.99 (hint: it’s not for a good reason).

Low cost bacon is usually super fatty or pumped with lots of extra water to make it seem like there is more meat in the package. Good butchers don’t do this (but this practice is rampant with most mass produced grocery store bacon).

Fatty pork bellies will lead to more bacon shrinkage. The award winning butchers carefully source their meat to ensure a high quality bacon with the right fat to meat ratio that customers will enjoy and keep them coming back.

Just like when you build a house you want to build it on a strong foundation on solid ground or else the house will be weak. If you want bacon that doesn’t shrink very much, then you need to buy bacon from a trusted butcher and not from one of the huge national brands that mass produce their meats.

I am sure it was well intentioned, but no amount of cold water rinse will change the amount of bacon shrinkage.

Do you want bacon that doesn’t shrink?

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