Bacon is delicious, and keeping it from shrinking when cooking is a popular topic. However, Instructables user craftclarity wanted a more scientific, rigorous approach to keeping bacon from shrinking while cooking, so he put a number of popular tricks—including the one we mentioned—to the test.
Craftclarity tested the rinsing method before baking and frying, complete with some control bacon that wasn’t rinsed at all. He also tested whether or not you’d get maximum flavor from your bacon by only baking it for 10 minutes at 365 degrees F (185 degrees C), as all of the tips suggest. It turns out that the water rinse isn’t quite as effective as everyone who published it would have you believe—it certainly helped, but claims that it’ll keep shrinkage down by up to 50% are more than exaggerated.
For one thing, the experiment (rather predictably) discovered that the 10 minute/365 degree cooking time was way too short, and resulted in practically raw bacon. That makes sense, regardless of what the tips say. From there, they bumped up the cooking time to a more reasonable 30 minutes in the oven, versus the package instructions of 8-10 minutes in a skillet (where shorter cooking times make more sense. The control bacon for each experiment went in, followed by the bacon that had been rinsed and then patted dry.
The result? No significant change in bacon shrinkage regardless of cooking method. In fact, if the experiment proved anything, it’s that to minimize bacon shrinkage, you should cook your bacon in the oven. There was little difference between the rinsed oven bacon and the unrinsed oven bacon. Flavor-wise though, some of the testers noted the rinsed bacon tasted "drier," which makes sense since you wash some of the delicious, flavor-transferring fat off of the bacon before cooking, which makes it crunchier, but not necessarily better. Hit the link below to see the entire experiment; it’s worth a look.
Preventing Bacon Shrinkage: An Experiment | Instructables