If you’re a pulled pork aficionado, then you know that there’s nothing better than a fresh pile of juicy, tender, and flavorful pulled pork. However, it can be hard to finish off the whole 8-ounce package in a single sitting.
This is where freezing the leftover pulled pork comes in handy. If you’re wondering whether or not you can freeze pulled pork, the answer is yes! You can freeze pulled pork in order to save it for later use.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to safely prepare your pulled pork so that it does not become freezer burnt once stored in the freezer. It is important to follow these steps so that you are able to enjoy your delicious meal anytime!
Step 1: Remove Pulled Pork From the Oven
Once the pulled pork has finished cooking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.
Keep in mind that you do not want to place hot meat into a freezer as this can cause your freezer’s temperature gauge to rise and potentially harm other items stored within your refrigerator.
This is also why we recommend removing your pulled pork from the oven before you place it in a freezer.
Step 2: Prepare Pulled Pork Prior to Freezing
It is important that you prepare pulled pork prior to freezing it because the freezer can alter its texture. For example, if you are making pulled pork sandwiches and choose not to refrigerate them before placing them in the freezer, they will become soggy when thawed for later use.
You want your meal to be appetizing, so you must take a few extra steps prior to freezing your meal.
Here are the two most important things to remember when preparing pulled pork:
- Allow for proper cooling before placing in freezer: The USDA recommends that all food items needing refrigeration or freezing should cool from 140 degrees Fahrenheit down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit within 4 hours, and then from 40 degrees Fahrenheit down to 0 or below within 2 hours. This is important because food poisoning bacteria can grow rapidly in the temperature zone where foods begin to freeze (above 41 F).
- Do not place hot pulled pork on aluminum trays: Hot meat placed directly on an aluminum tray may cause chemical changes that create harmful food poisoning bacteria.
Step 3: Wrap Pulled Pork in Food-Safe Material
In order to prevent freezer burn, you must wrap your pulled pork in food-safe material before placing it inside the freezer.
Ensure that your meal is wrapped properly so that it is able to remain fresh and appealing, even after thawing.
Wrap your leftover pulled pork tightly with wax paper and foil before placing it inside an airtight container or plastic bag. If you want, you can also wrap it in a layer of aluminum foil, followed by a layer of plastic wrap.
There are a few different types of containers that work well for freezing:
- Plastic zipper bag – This is a good option if you plan on just eating the meat right away and don’t intend on thawing anything out before cooking.
- Foil container – It works as an air-tight seal and can withstand being frozen and thawed.
- Vacuum sealed container – This is a good option if you want to store a lot of pulled pork for later, or have a vacuum sealer on hand.
Plastic Zipper Bags
If you choose to freeze your pulled pork in zipper bags, use the largest bag possible so that there is less air inside as it freezes. An efficient way to do this would be using gallon sized bags. These can then be laid flat and stacked on top of each other in the freezer.
Alternately, you could place a piece of wax paper between each layer to stop them from sticking together. Once your pork is frozen, it should be good for about 3 months if stored properly.
If you’re using foil containers, be sure to use a piece of freezer paper to cover the pork. You can also use a lid, but it might stick. Never store your pulled pork for more than 9 months in the freezer!
Vacuum Sealed Bags
If you choose to freeze your meat in vacuum sealed bags, be sure that you’re using a quality bag and not just shoving it into any old sandwich bag.
A vacuum sealed bag will allow you to store a lot of pulled pork for later use, but be sure that it won’t get freezer burn. Usually the thicker bags will do better than thinner sandwich bags.
Step 4: Label and Date Your Meal
Labeling is vital for all foods in your freezer, but it becomes even more important with pulled pork because it can be frozen up to three months prior to use.
You want to make sure that you are able to read what type of meat has been stored and when it was placed in the freezer. Double-check to make sure you are not throwing out old pulled pork that may have been stored longer than intended.
If you plan on cooking up what’s inside within a few days, you can just write the date (for example, thawed 8/27). If it’s something that will stay in the freezer for a while, it’s best to write “Pulled Pork” on the bag and then put the freeze date on there.
Once your meal is labeled, you will want to ensure that all items remain frozen until they are ready for use and then defrosted according to the instructions below.
You do not want to accidentally thaw and refreeze your meal. That will cause damage to the texture of the pulled pork, making it unappetizing for future use!
Step 5: How Do I Thaw Pulled Pork?
Pulled pork is typically thawed in two different methods: either using cold water or refrigeration. Both methods are effective, but you will want to ensure that your pulled pork is always cooked prior to eating.
- Thaw using cold water: If you choose this method, place the meal inside of a sealed container or bag and submerge it in cold tap water (coldest setting). Change out the water every 30 minutes until thawed completely.
- Thaw using refrigeration: If you choose this method, place the meal in a sealed container or bag and allow to thaw inside of your refrigerator. It will likely take 12 hours for pulled pork to completely thaw when done using this method. Ensure that you do not leave it out on the countertop prior to cooking!
If you want to make pulled pork ahead of time and save it for another day, there are a few steps that you need to take in order to ensure the meat will be safe when you thaw it back out.
Follow the steps above on how to freeze pulled pork safely so that your meal is as tasty as ever!