How Long Does Bologna Last? Does It Spoil?

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When you think of deli sandwiches, the first thing that pops into your mind will be a bologna sandwich. Bologna, which is pronounced “baloney” in America has its origins in Bologna, Italy. Bologna is a descendant of the Italian mortadella the primary difference being that in mortadella there are chunks of fat still present, while in bologna it has been homogenized with the rest of the meat.

Bologna is one of the most favored sliced sausage meats that is often used in sandwiches. It is made most commonly from ground pork but can also be made from beef, and sometimes both. 

Currently, you can also have bologna made from chicken or turkey. While the basic bologna is made with ground meat and fat along with a few spices like pepper, garlic, and onion, there is a variety of bolognas that are made with various meats, different kinds of spices, and even some with ingredients like flour, powdered milk, lard, potatoes and so on. There are even versions of kosher and halal bologna.

Bologna is the quintessential luncheon meat. It is most commonly available at delis where they sell it in precut or unsliced forms. You can also buy them prepackaged in grocery stores. Bologna can be eaten cold, as is, or can be consumed fried, cooked, or smoked. 

How Long Does Bologna Last?

Bologna is extremely popular being that it is so readily available, is inexpensive, and of course delicious. But with so many options out there, how long does bologna actually last? Taking into account the freshness of the ingredients and proper storage conditions, fresh-cut bologna from the deli will last for about 5 days to a week

Store-bought, prepackaged bologna will last from 10 – 14 days as long as the bologna is refrigerated properly and has not been left out or open. Homemade bologna, though much fresher has a much shorter life span as it has no preservatives or additives in it to extend its shelf life. Homemade bologna will last for 3-4 days in the fridge. 

Type of BolognaPantryFridgeFreezer
Deli bologna1-2 hours5-7 days1-2 months
Prepackaged, store-bought bologna2-8 hours10-14 days2 months
Homemade bologna1-2 hours2-4 days1-2 months

Do keep in mind that when bologna is kept at room temperature for too long, it will start to spoil. The recommended time is not more than 2 hours, especially bologna that is homemade or bought from the deli as they are fresh cut. The prepackaged bologna from the store will last a little bit longer at room temperature as it’s professionally sealed and has preservatives added to it. An unopened pack of bologna will last for a minimum of two hours and if you live in a place that is cold and doesn’t have too much humidity, it can be safe even overnight. Do not leave it out longer than that as the meat will start turning.

How Best To Store Bologna?

Bear in mind that the table given above is just an estimate, the actual shelf life of bologna depends largely on its storage conditions among others.  

  • When storing bologna that you have bought from the deli (either sliced or unsliced) it needs to be properly wrapped before being put in the refrigerator. 
  • You can use the wrapping the deli meat comes in and then add another layer of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or parchment paper. You can either place it as is in the fridge or place it in an airtight container and then store it in the refrigerator. 
  • I would recommend using the airtight container as it adds an extra layer of protection, ensuring that the meat is not exposed to air. And it also prevents the fridge from smelling of meat and vice versa. If stored this way, your bologna will last comfortably in the fridge for at least a week.
  • Prepackaged store-bought bologna can last for two weeks if stored with some extra care and caution.
  • The first thing to do, if you are not going to use it immediately, do not open it. Let it remain in its packaging till you are ready to use it.
  • Once you’ve opened it, take the remaining bologna slices and wrap them tightly with plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or parchment paper. Place it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. 
  • For homemade bologna, you pretty much use the same storage method, of wrapping it up tightly in foil or wrap and placing it in an airtight container, and storing it in the refrigerator. Just bear in mind that you cannot have homemade bologna sitting out for too long. It is prone to bacteria and decay and will spoil very soon, especially in the heat.
  • Now if you want bologna to last a very long time, then freezing it is a quick and easy way to do it. If you freeze your bologna properly, it will last in the freezer for 2 months. 

How To Freeze Bologna?

Since bologna is often the go-to option for deli meat sandwiches and quick lunches, it is economical to buy in bulk and use it. But, since the shelf life of bologna is not as long as we’d like, it will spoil soon unless we take extra measures, like freezing it.

To freeze bologna, first, ensure that you are putting it in the freezer before its expiry date or before it is expected to spoil in the fridge. You should freeze it before the best-by date so that the bologna still tastes fresh when you do eat it, even if it’s two months after.

You can freeze the bologna in the package it came in if you haven’t opened it yet. Place it in an airtight container or bag that is freezer-friendly.

For homemade or fresh-cut slices, use parchment paper to first wrap them up. Then cover in aluminum foil and keep it in a freezer-safe container in the freezer. 

The bologna will last for 2 months easily. 

How To Know If Your Bologna Has Spoiled?

While there are many ways to extend the shelf life of bologna, it will spoil eventually. Here are a few ways to know if your meat has spoiled.

  • The first indication of spoiled meat is the smell. If your bologna smells “funky” or very pungent, it has turned rancid and should not be consumed.
  • Another sure sign of spoilage is discoloration. If the meat looks gray or brown instead of pink then it has spoiled.
  • Another thing to look for is green or black spots. Mold or any growth on the bologna means it has definitely spoiled.
  • If your bologna has become slimy to feel, it is another way to spot spoilage. 

It is not recommended to consume spoiled meat as it can lead to a host of gut and health issues. If you are a regular bologna user, take care to store your meat properly so that you can enjoy it for a long time.

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