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Can I Freeze Pork Immediately After Cooking?

by Tara Kimball

Fresh pork can carry bacteria like listeria, E. coli and salmonella. Trichinosis is carried by pigs and can pass to humans from pork consumption. We've had plenty of practice in safe handling, pork recipes from at least 2,000 years ago are known from China and Imperial Rome. Cooking pork thoroughly and handling it properly, even when freezing cooked meat, protects yourself and your family from those dangerous illnesses from these common bacteria.

Cooking Guidelines

Cook pork properly for it to be safe for freezer storage after cooking. Preparation may include rubbing with a seasoning mix or marinating in a creamy dressing and placing in the refrigerator for up to four days before cooking, for added flavor and tenderness. The USDA recommends that you cook pork to a minimum of 145 degrees. Always use a meat thermometer to verify the temperature. If you freeze pork that is not fully cooked, bacteria may develop and grow when you thaw it to reheat.

Freezing Pork

Preparing cooked pork properly for the freezer protects you and your loved ones from bacteria development later when you thaw it to serve again. Slice leftover pork into uniform cuts and place it into shallow containers with airtight covers. Let the pork rest on a counter for no more than 1 hour to cool, then seal the containers and place them in the freezer. Let the meat cool before freezing so that it freezes quickly, reducing the risk of bacteria growth.

Thawing and Reheating

Safely store cooked pork in the freezer for two to three months before the quality begins to degrade. Thaw packages of cooked pork in the refrigerator to avoid introducing and harboring bacteria that may invade if it thaws at room temperature. Heat the pork thoroughly until it is steaming to ensure that you kill any residual bacteria growth.

Considerations

Pork is susceptible to many bacteria strains, all of which are destroyed with proper cooking. You can rinse pork cuts before cooking them, but it isn't absolutely necessary. Any bacteria that may be on the surface of the pork will not survive after it is cooked. Freeze the meat in airtight containers or freezer bags with all possible air purged to protect the meat from freezer burn, protecting the quality for several months.

About the Author

Tara Kimball is a former accounting professional with more than 10 years of experience in corporate finance and small business accounting. She has also worked in desktop support and network management. Her articles have appeared in various online publications.

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