Use Cheesecloth To Keep Cut Guanciale Fresh

Lovers of spaghetti alla gricia and spaghetti carbonara understand all too well the importance of guanciale. The flavorful Italian meat plays a crucial and crispy role in many pasta dishes, but while it's delicious to eat, it's not so delicious when it dries out. In fact, once guanciale has been cut, it can dry up far too quickly — so long, carbonara dreams.

To combat this conundrum of too-dry guanciale and keep your guanciale fresh long enough to enjoy your favorite recipes, La Cucina Italiana recommends covering the cut part of the guanciale with cheesecloth. While cheesecloth is typically used for, of course, cheese — particularly straining milk — it serves quite a few functions. One of the best? Protecting your guanciale's texture. 

It's always best to eat your guanciale when it's most fresh. Sometimes, however, that's not possible — this makes it all the more important to break out a cheesecloth and protect your meat as well as you can. You want guanciale as crispy and flavorful as possible. Luckily, with a little thought — and some careful wrapping — protecting your meat doesn't have to be challenging.

Guanciale stays fresh for up to a month once cut

To employ this trick, simply wrap the exposed part of the guanciale in the cheesecloth, and safely store the meat in the refrigerator. Alternatively, if you happen to have a cellar, guanciale is best preserved in a cool, dry place. As for how long your covered guanciale will last? You have some time, though it's better to make that carbonara sooner rather than later. And what better excuse to make all your favorite guanciale recipes than the threat of a missed opportunity? 

Guanciale — which has more fat than its sister meat, pancetta — can last for about a month in a cheesecloth, once it's been cut. However, the quality of the meat will slowly deteriorate. The longer you hang onto your guanciale, the more flavor and smell it will lose. Its texture will also wane and it will become harder. 

This timeline is even shorter for sliced guanciale. Once you cut your meat into individual slices, you have roughly two weeks before the guanciale has passed its shelf life. Of course, if you don't cut into your guanciale at all, you have all the more time to mull over recipes. An uncut block of guanciale can last for up to six months.