Lots of people around the world consume pork in their diet, and there are even more ways to prepare it. You can get pork in different forms, from chops and tenderloins to whole roasts or pulled. Some people prefer seasoned and baked chops, others like fried. Some people love a good pork roast cooked down in a crock pot, and others really enjoy it smoked, shredded, and smothered and barbecue sauce.
While your choice of preparation is your own, you may be left with extra. What do you do with the left-over pork? Do you store them in the refrigerator to get lost behind other items? Do you throw them away? Maybe you give them to a neighbor or use them for your lunch break the following day.
If you need to store your left-over pork, but know that you won’t use it for a while, there’s good news. You can refreeze it!
Can you refreeze pork? Yes, pork can be refrozen whether it has been cooked or not, but it is best to refreeze it as soon as possible after it has thawed or been cooked. Be aware that some meats will lose some moisture after being thawed and/or cooked and refrozen.
Freezing and Refreezing Pork
Many consumers purchase and freeze extra meats for future meals, and pork is an easy one to manage. If you buy pork in a prepackaged form, like chops, tenderloins, roast, etc. then you’ll only need to put the package in the freezer. Easy, right? If you choose a slightly more complicated option, such as having whole meat cut to your desire or choosing a large bulk package, you may want to divide and package it for several meals.
When you initially thaw it, you should place it in the refrigerator to do so, as that’s the safest way to thaw meat. If you do not need the whole package, then you may wish to separate it into smaller bags before freezing. If you don’t separate it into smaller portions, you can still refreeze the remaining pork that wasn’t needed after you’ve used what was necessary.
There are a few simple steps to freezing pork:
- Package the pork to your preference, i.e. meal sizes, cuts, or whole, if it is not prepackaged.
- Check for use/freeze by dates.
- Keep the pork in an air-tight bag or container, removing as much air as possible.
- Mark the package with the cut of the pork and the date.
- Place the package in a freezer at 0℉ or below.
How to Reheat Pork
Reheating pork doesn’t have to be difficult. Your approach to doing so just needs to fit the type of pork you’re handling. Because there are various ways to prepare pork, there are multiple ways to reheat it without it becoming dry while keeping it safe to eat.
Food safety is always important to avoid foodborne illnesses, so you’ll want to make sure that you always cook and heat foods to safe temperatures that are recommended by the type of meat. Most are 165℉, but there can be some wiggle room with some meats that may also depend on the preparation.
Reheating Pork in the Oven
If you cooked up some pork chops or tenderloins, you likely either baked, fried, or steamed them. To reheat them, you should place the cuts into a cooking pan with a small amount of broth, preferably chicken flavored, and a little oil on each cut. You should then let them heat in the oven at 325℉ for 25-30 minutes, until the cuts reach at least 135℉ internally. Once they’ve reached an acceptable temperature, letting them rest for a few minutes is the best course of action.
Reheating Pork on the Stove
Maybe you prefer stove-top cooking over using the oven, and you can definitely reheat pork this way, too. Preferably, a cast iron skillet is the best option for this method, but is not required. Any skillet with a lid will work. Start by placing the skillet on the stove-top on medium heat with a light layer of oil inside.
Once the oil begins to shimmer, place your pork cuts in a single layer in the pan and cover it. If you heat them too fast, you risk overcooking and burning them. If you reheat them slowly, you can retain the flavor and moisture. Turn the cuts occasionally, keeping the skillet covered in between.
Reheating Pork in the Microwave
Using the microwave to reheat pork works best with pulled pork rather than whole cuts of chops or tenderloins. Simply place the pulled pork into a microwave-safe container and set your microwave for one minute increments, stirring the pork after each minute. This method shouldn’t take very long and allows you to reheat it more evenly.
When to Toss the Pork
If you notice your pork turning brown or gray, instead of maintaining its natural pink color, it’s time to throw it out. Once the color changes, you may also notice an undesirable change in the smell because rancid meat smells sour. You should also watch for white patches within the meat if it has been frozen for an extended period of time, as this is freezer burn and is not safe for consumption.
Freezing and refreezing pork is not a complicated process, but there are details that you’ll need to watch for, such as the dates and indications of spoiled pork. The best time period to use frozen pork is within about six months of initially freezing it, whether cooked or uncooked when you freeze it, keeping in mind to get it in the freezer as soon as you know you’re not going to immediately use it.
Proper freezing, thawing, cooking, refreezing, and reheating are important factors to prevent contracting food poisoning from your pork cuts, but this can all be done in a safe manner that will allow you to cut down on waste and save money, all while enjoying the pork that you chose and prepared.