If you have recently cooked some pork and you want to save the leftovers, it’s extremely important to know how to store them and how long they should last. As with all meat, being cautious is advisable, as this will help to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Do not eat pork if you think there is a chance it has gone off.
How long does cooked pork last in the fridge? Cooked pork products can be kept in the fridge for two to three days before they are considered unsafe to eat. This is true of pork roast and pork chops. Ham slices can last for three to four days, and half a cooked ham can last for three to five days. A whole ham may be safe to eat for up to seven days after being refrigerated.
How Should You Store Cooked Pork?
You should put cooked pork straight into the fridge as soon as it is cool enough to do so. Do not store it at room temperature for any longer than is necessary, and avoid taking it out of the fridge and leaving it on the counter. Only take what you need and then place the rest back in the fridge.
It’s a good idea to wrap up cooked pork in foil or plastic wrap, or to put it in a plastic container before storing it. Minimizing the airflow is helpful for reducing cross contamination and may help the meat to last longer, since meat reacts to oxygen.
Place cooked pork in the coldest part of your fridge and make sure that it cannot leak any juices onto other food. The coldest part will either be beside the ice tray or in the lowest part of the fridge (since cold air sinks).
Can You Freeze Cooked Pork?
Yes, you can freeze cooked pork. It is a good idea to put cooked pork in the freezer immediately, rather than leaving it in the fridge to begin with and then freezing it. Wrap the food well, and then place it in the freezer.
Cooked pork can be kept in the freezer for four to twelve months. It should still be safe to eat after this point, but it may lose its texture and become dry and chewy. Unfortunately, freezing pork can reduce the juiciness of the meat even if you defrost it not long after; it should only be done if necessary.
If you have frozen pork, make sure that you defrost it in the fridge or in the microwave, rather than leaving it to thaw at room temperature.
How Do You Know If Cooked Pork Has Gone Bad?
It is best to be very cautious about eating cooked meat if you are unsure whether it is safe. However, there are a few things that will indicate the pork is definitely unsafe to eat, such as mold spots, a rancid smell, a slimy texture, or discoloration.
If you aren’t sure about a piece of meat, take it out of the fridge and inspect it carefully. If you can see any signs of white, green, blue, or fluffy spots on the surface, it has gone off. Even if these spots are tiny, do not eat the meat; there will be invisible mold spread throughout it.
You should also look out for any discoloration; if the pork is not the same color as it was when you cooked it, it may have gone off. The meat should be pale pink, with no dark patches (unless you have crisped the exterior).
Check whether the pork smells okay, too. You may have to let it warm up a little in order for the scent to be released, so unwrap it and let it stand on the side for about ten minutes. At this point, if you can smell anything unusual, you should throw the pork away.
Finally, assess the texture. If the pork is slimy or has any liquid leaking from it, it has gone bad. The texture should be the same as when you cooked it; any mushiness or wetness is a sign that bacteria have begun breaking down the meat and it is unsafe for consumption.
It’s important to note that pork can be off even if it does not show any of these signs, so you should not eat pork that has been stored in the fridge for more than about three days.
What Happens If You Leave Cooked Pork at Room Temperature?
Cooked pork will go off in under two hours if it is left at room temperature. Although cooking will kill the bacteria in the flesh, this will quickly be replaced by new bacteria, and they will breed very fast at room temperature.
Storing meat below 40 degrees F (for example, in a fridge or a freezer) will slow the spread of bacteria significantly and help the meat to last. If meat is not stored in a cold environment, it will go off extremely fast – usually within two hours.
In a warm room, you need to decrease this window to just one hour. If meat is kept above 90 degrees F, the rate at which the bacteria spread will be dramatically increased and the meat will very quickly become unsafe to eat.
The pork may still look and smell fine after being left out, but don’t eat it or put it in the fridge. It will not be safe. Even if your kitchen is cool, cooked pork that has been left out for over two hours should be thrown away.
Eating it could make you very sick, as pork can harbor dangerous bacteria. Food poisoning can, in serious circumstances, lead to hospitalization, so you need to be cautious.
Cooked pork should last in the fridge for about three days, although some kinds of pork, such as whole hams, may last for longer. It is important to place cooked pork in an airtight container before storing it, and to keep it in the coldest part of the fridge. If you are not going to use the pork up within three days, consider freezing it.