Are you drawn in by the tantalizing aroma of slow-cooked, tender pulled pork, but worried about how long it will last in your fridge? Or perhaps you've got a great deal on a pork shoulder and want to prepare it for a special occasion next week? Whatever your predicament, you've landed in the right place! In this guide, we'll dissect the shelf life of pork, the best ways to store and reheat it, and creative ideas to reinvent your pulled pork leftovers into scrumptious meals. Let's dive right in!
1 - How Long Does Pork Stay Fresh Before it’s Cooked?
Keeping food safety at the forefront, the first thing we need to understand is how long fresh pork, be it a pork loin or a Boston butt, stays good before it’s cooked. Generally, raw pork butt or any cut of pork can stay fresh for about 3 to 5 days in the fridge, provided it's kept at the right temperature, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you aren’t planning on cooking it within this timeframe, it's a good idea to freeze it. Fresh pork, well-wrapped to minimize exposure to air, can last in the freezer for up to six months without losing its quality. Just make sure to use a vacuum sealer or freezer bags for the best results.
Now, if you've been lucky enough to have snagged a deal on a large amount of pork, consider dividing it into smaller portions before freezing. This practice not only makes it easier to thaw only what you need, but it also reduces the risk of freezer burn due to excess air in the bag.
2. How Long is Pulled Pork Good For?
Now to the crux of the matter: how long is pulled pork good for?
- In the Fridge
After you’ve relished your delicious meal of slow-cooked pork, it's time to pack away the leftover pork. If stored properly, leftover pulled pork can last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
To store it, first, let the pork cool to room temperature. Then, put it in an airtight container, making sure there's not too much air trapped inside. You can also layer it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil before popping it in the fridge. Including some of the cooking juices can also help keep the meat moist.
- In the Freezer
If you have a large amount of leftover meat and don't think you can finish it within the next few days, the freezer is your best bet. Properly stored, pulled pork can last for up to 3 months in the freezer.
First, cool the pork to room temperature. Then, portion the pulled pork into zip-top bags or airtight containers in individual portions. This makes it easier to reheat only what you need later. Be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible from the bags to prevent freezer burn.
- After Thawing
Once you’ve thawed your frozen pulled pork, consume it within 3 to 4 days. Thaw it in the fridge, not at room temperature, to keep it safe from bacteria growth. If you thaw it in cold water, consume it right away.
3. How Do You Reheat Leftover Pulled Pork?
With your leftover pulled pork safely stored away, the next question is, how do you reheat it?
- Reheating Pulled Pork On The Stove
One of the quickest ways to heat your leftover pork is on the stove. It's simple, quick, and doesn't require any fancy gadgets. However, it might dry out the meat if you're not careful.
- Put the pulled pork in a large saucepan.
- Add a bit of apple juice, chicken broth, or barbecue sauce to keep it moist and flavorful.
- Cover and simmer on low heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally.
- Reheating Pulled Pork In A Crock Pot
Slow cooking your pulled pork in a crockpot or instant pot is another option. It takes longer but ensures that your pork stays tender and juicy. The downside is the cooking time.
- Place the pulled pork in your slow cooker.
- Add some apple juice or cooking juices.
- Set it to low and let it cook for a couple of hours until it reaches the safe internal temperature.
- Reheating Shredded Pork In A Microwave
Microwaving is the easiest way and fastest method to reheat your shredded pork. It may not be the best way if you have a large batch, but it’s perfect for a quick meal.
- Put the pulled pork in a microwave-safe dish, add a splash of apple juice or BBQ sauce.
- Cover the dish with a microwave-safe cover or wrap.
- Use the defrost setting to heat it up slowly and evenly.
4. 5 Different Ways to Use Your Leftover Pulled Pork
Bored of the same old pulled pork sandwiches? Here are five fun and delicious ways to use your leftovers:
Pulled Pork BBQ Sliders
Mini sandwiches packed with tender pulled pork, slathered with barbecue sauce, and served with a side of coleslaw. They're the perfect bite-sized party food or quick lunch.
Pulled Pork Tacos
Warm up some tortillas, add a spoonful of your leftovers, and top with sour cream, cheese, and salsa for a delicious twist on taco night.
Pulled Pork Quesadillas
A great way to use leftover meat. Add pulled pork, cheese, and a bit of BBQ sauce between two tortillas and cook until crispy. Serve with sour cream and guacamole.
Pulled Pork Potatoes
Stuffed baked potatoes are a wonderful way to use leftover pulled pork. Stuff your potatoes with pork, cheese, and top with sour cream and chives for a hearty main dish.
Pulled Pork Salad
Mix your leftovers with some greens, black beans, corn, and BBQ ranch dressing for a hearty and healthy salad.
How Long is Pulled Pork Good For? Final Thoughts
The key to extending the shelf life of your pork lies in proper storage and reheating. Armed with this knowledge, you can now enjoy your favorite pulled pork dishes without worrying about wasting leftovers.
For the Pulled Pork
- 8 lbs pork butt or pork shoulder
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup black pepper
- ¼ cup paprika
- 2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- salt To taste.
For the Kansas City BBQ Sauce
- 2 cups ketchup
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt To taste.
- Begin by preparing your pork shoulder. Remove any excess fat and pat it dry.
- Combine your brown sugar, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt in a bowl. This mix serves as your dry rub.
- Apply the dry rub all over the cut of meat. Massage it in well to ensure the flavors penetrate deep into the pork. Once thoroughly covered, place the pork in a large resealable freezer bag and refrigerate it overnight, or at least 12 hours. This allows the pork to absorb the flavor of the rub.
- The next day, prepare your smoker. Light the charcoal grill and allow it to heat up to a temperature of about 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the pork from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. This helps it cook evenly.
- Place the pork shoulder in the smoker on the grill grates, fat side up. Cover the smoker.
- Maintain a constant temperature of 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit in the smoker. Add more charcoal as needed.
- Let the pork smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of about 195-203 degrees Fahrenheit. This can take anywhere from 10 to 12 hours, but patience is key here. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature.
- Once done, remove the delicious pork from the smoker and place it in a covered container or roasting pan. Allow it to rest for at least an hour before pulling it apart. The rest period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it even more tender.
- After resting, pull the pork apart using two forks. The tender meat should easily shred into perfect pulled pork.
Kansas City BBQ Sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and stir until well combined.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat.
- Reduce heat to low and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and let it cool. Store in a covered container or a squeeze bottle for easy application.
- Apply to your tender, smoked pulled pork and enjoy!
Here is Another Recipe you Might Like:
Frequently Asked Questions
Changes in color, a rancid smell, and a slimy texture are tell-tale signs of spoiled pork. When in doubt, throw it out to avoid food poisoning.
Absolutely. BBQ sauce can add flavor and moisture, helping to keep the pork from drying out.
When reheating, adding a bit of apple juice, chicken broth, or leftover cooking juices can help keep pulled pork moist and juicy.
Yes, it is safe as long as it has been stored properly. However, the quality might degrade over time.