Can You Freeze Pulled Pork? Tips on Freezing & Reheating

Pulled pork is a delicious dish that is often served at barbecues or parties. The meat is usually slow-cooked until tender and then shredded into bite-sized pieces. This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for later use.

When making pulled pork, it can be tough to portion correctly. You can easily end up with far too much pulled pork. Instead of throwing this pork away, you can always save it for later.

Freeze Pulled Pork

Though you can put it in the fridge, it will need to be used quite quickly (namely within the use-by date).

To make the length of time that you can consume the pork longer, you may want to freeze it. However, is this possible? If so, how do you freeze pulled pork? Find out below.

What is Pulled Pork?

As mentioned, pulled pork is made from pork shoulder. It is particularly popular in the United States, where it is routinely consumed at barbecues. In fact, there are many different types of pulled pork recipes, including:

  • Barbecue – A barbecue sauce is applied to the meat before cooking. This gives it a sweet and tangy taste. 
  • Dry Rub – Ingredients such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, etc., are rubbed onto the meat prior to cooking.
  • Wet Rub – Similar to dry rubs, wet rubs have ingredients mixed in a liquid form.

Pulled pork is made by slowly cooking the meat until tender. A slow cooker is commonly used to achieve this soft texture. Once cooked, the meat is shredded using forks. This is why it has the name “pulled” pork. 

Why Freeze Food?

Freezing food is an excellent way to extend the life of your food. It preserves freshness and helps to maintain nutrients. It does this by slowing down the development of microorganisms that make food go off.

There are many ways to freeze food, but freezing by itself isn’t enough to preserve all foods.

Another benefit of freezing food is that you can have a convenient meal ready whenever you want it. This can save you time, meaning that you can eat this food whenever you want.

For example, you can save this frozen meal for a busy day when you are working late. After all, cooking a meal from scratch can take a lot of time. 

Moreover, frozen food can cut down on wastage. As mentioned above, you can store leftover food in the freezer instead of throwing it away.

As a result, it is the perfect solution for overwhelming portion sizes. You would be shocked by the amount of food that is needlessly thrown away each year. 

By using leftovers, you can save money. This is because you can use this leftover food instead of having to buy new food. Thus, freezing is a great option for people who shop while on a narrow budget. 

When you reheat these meals, they won’t lose their nutritional value. This is because the nutrients are preserved by the freezing process. In fact, some people even prefer eating frozen food because it tastes better than other types.

It also makes it easier to store. If you have limited fridge space, you can make room by utilizing the freezer. 

How To Freeze Pulled Pork

If you want to freeze pulled pork, there is a key step that you must do. Namely, you must ensure that the pork has been cooked properly. This means that you should cook the pork thoroughly before putting it in the freezer.

To ensure that pork is properly cooked, you may want to utilize a food thermometer to check the internal temperature. This should give you a reading of 165°F. 

You should also bear in mind that it will be hard to freeze pulled pork that has been covered in a sauce. As a result, you should try to freeze leftover pork before drizzling it in a sauce, such as a barbecue sauce. You may want to freeze the sauce separately if possible. 

You should also wait for the pork to cool down before adding it to the freezer. Otherwise, it can increase the freezer’s temperature. 

Aside from this, you are ready to freeze your pulled pork. To do so, follow these instructions:

  1. Put the pork in an airtight freezer bag or an airtight container. If you have lots of pulled pork, you may need to spread this between multiple bags or containers. If you have multiple portions, you may want to put enough pulled pork for one person in each bag. This will ensure that you have suitable portions whenever you reheat the pork. 
  2. Pour any juices leftover from the cooking of the meat onto the pork. This will add moisture to it, limiting the chance of freezer burn. For those that are unfamiliar with it, freezer burn occurs when moisture is lost during the freezing process. Food that has experienced this will adopt a tough and unpleasant texture. 
  3. Ensure that the bag has been sealed properly. a vacuum sealer can be used at this stage. 
  4. Put a label on the bag or container with the date on it. This will allow you to keep track of when you should use up the pork. You may also want to write “pulled pork” on it just to clarify what the food is. After all, it can be quite hard to see into containers once they have been put in the freezer.
  5. Place the bag into the freezer. Use the meat within 2 to 3 months of freezing it.

How to Defrost Pulled Pork

When it comes to eating your pulled pork, you will often need to thaw it before you can reheat it. Essentially, this means warming the pork so that it is no longer frozen. Though some foods can be cooked from frozen, others will need to be thawed first. This is often the case with different types of meat. This is because the internal temperature of the meat may not get to a sufficient temperature. 

Thankfully, defrosting is quite simple and there are lots of ways of doing it, including:

  • Put the pork in the fridge for a long time, preferably overnight. This is an easy and safe defrosting option. 
  • Defrost the pork at room temperature by leaving it on the side of your kitchen for around an hour. The pork should not be left out for too long. This is because it can increase the risk of food poisoning. You should also bear in mind that this can make the surrounding surfaces wet. 
  • Heat the pork in a frying pan on top of your stove. To defrost it, the pork should be warmed on low to medium heat. It will then need to be reheated properly. 

How to Reheat Pulled Pork

Once the pork has been thawed, you will need to reheat it. You can use an oven, microwave, or a stove-top to do this.

Cooking in an Oven

If you are using an oven, you will need to preheat it to a high setting. Pour the pork into an ovenproof dish, being sure to spread it out evenly.

Add some juice or sauce to the meat to moisten it. Stir the pork so that the juice is evenly distributed. Then, place the pork in the middle of the oven and cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C).

This will take approximately 30 minutes, though this time will vary depending on the size of the pork. Once it has reached this temperature, remove it from the oven and serve it. 

Cooking in a Microwave

This is perhaps the most effective and speedy way of reheating pulled pork. Simply pour the pork into a microwave-safe bowl. Add some liquid or sauce to the meat.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on high for about 5 minutes, checking at regular intervals to see if it has reached the correct temperature.

Remove the cover and stir the pork. If it does not feel like it is hot enough, repeat the process.

Cooking on a Stove-Top

Cover a skillet or frying pan with oil or a non-stick spray. Turn the hob on, allowing the oil or spray to heat up. Then, add the pulled pork and a little juice.

Stir your pork with a wooden spoon often to stop it from sticking to the pan and ensure that it is reheated evenly. The pork will be ready once it has developed a tender feel.

As with the other two methods, it should be at the correct temperature. 

Pulled Pork Meal Inspiration

If you are unsure of how you should serve reheated pulled pork, here are some suggestions:

  • Pulled pork burger
  • Pork salad
  • Pulled pork burrito
  • Pork and corn on the cob
  • Pulled pork sandwich
  • Fries and pulled pork

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long will Pulled Pork Last?

Once cooked, pulled pork will last in the refrigerator for between 3 and 4 days. In the freezer, it can last for significantly longer, namely around 3 months. 

Is Pulled Pork Okay to Put in the Freezer?

Yes, as explained it is perfectly fine. The only slight issue that you may face is freezer burn. To limit the risk of freezer burn, you should add some moisture to the pork before freezing it. 

Final Thoughts

By now, you will be much more informed about what to do with leftover pork. Whether you freeze it or leave it in the fridge, you can now safely reheat it. By doing so, you can reduce food wastage and serve some delicious meals.

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