What is the average shelf life of pork? How long does pork last in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? What is the best way to store pork to increase its shelf life? Find out the answers to these questions and more below:
Shelf Life of Pork
|Variety Cuts||1-2||3-4 Months|
Here’s what you want to look for when purchasing pork:
- Meat that is firm.
- Meat that has a grayish-pink color.
- Meat that has very little marbling.
- Meat that has very little fat around the outside.
If there are “use-by” and “sell-by” dates on the package, these should be observed as closely as possible.
All fresh pork should remain in its original packaging in the refrigerator until ready to be used, observing the dates on the packaging, and no more than 2 days for specialty meats and 5 days for other cuts. If frozen longer than 2 months, rewrap in the original packaging in freezer paper to maintain quality and freshness.
Homecooked recipes containing pork and pre-prepared meals can be stored in the refrigerator for several days safely and frozen for 2 to 3 months.
HOW TO HANDLE PORK
A key safety tip when handling raw meat of any kind is to wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before and after handling the meat and its packaging. Also, wipe all surfaces with a clean, soapy cloth or material that can be washed or disposed of immediately to prevent the spread of bacteria.
If you are purchasing the pork meat fresh from the market, this should be one of the last items to go into your basket so it would stay as cold as possible until you get home to put it in the refrigerator or freezer. Hopefully, the market where you shop provides plastic bags for you to secure your meat items so the juices from them won’t leak onto the other items in your basket and cross-contaminate them. The pork meat should remain in its original packaging until you’re ready to prepare your meal which should be within 3-5 days from the time you bought it. If you find you’re not going to be able to use it before that time, you should wrap it (if you plan to freeze it for more than 2 months) and put it in the freezer.
To thaw, it’s best to use one of the three top methods: 1) in the refrigerator (for as long as it takes), 2) in cold water (in original package, sealed in leakproof container; water changed every 30 minutes to keep it cool as thawing), and 3) in the microwave.
The refrigerator method is always the best and more recommended method since the meat can be refrozen if you find you are unable to use it. With the other two methods, the meat must be cooked.
Using a food thermometer, all pork foods, including mixtures, should be allowed to reach a temperature of 160 degrees F. The thicker cuts should be checked internally and the thermometer should reach 145 degrees F for safe eating. Sometimes pork meat can still have a pinkish color and be safe to eat. Allow larger cuts of meat to rest for a few minutes before cutting.