How to Cook Freezer-Burnt Pork Chops

by Fred Decker

Freezer-burnt pork chops cooked with barbecue sauce.

mastermilmar/iStock/Getty Images

For all but the most organized of people, the refrigerator and freezer will periodically prove to contain an unhappy surprise. Sometimes it might be a forgotten bag of expensive salad mix, turned to compost in the back of the crisper drawer; sometimes it might be a package of pork chops left in the freezer well past their prime. The rotted salad is wasted, but freezer-burnt pork chops can usually be salvaged. They are still safe to eat, but their quality will be reduced.

Thaw the damaged pork chops in a refrigerator overnight.

Unwrap the chops and inspect the damage. If several were frozen in a stack, the middle chops may still be good except for a small area around the edges. If they were frozen flat, and the large sides of the chops are freezer burnt, they'll be more difficult to save.

Cut away any areas of visible damage. If the chops were thick to begin with, they may still be thick enough to use as a chop when you're finished. For thinner chops, it's best to cut away the damage and slice them into strips for stir-frying.

Grill thick chops, once the freezer burn has been cut away, and brush them with barbecue sauce or other strong-flavored condiment to mask any remaining "off" flavors from the freezer.

Stir-fry smaller pieces of salvaged pork with hoisin or teriyaki sauce, sambal oelek or other strongly flavored sauce, and serve them with rice and vegetables.

Tips

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says flatly that "Freezer burn is a food-quality issue, not a food safety issue." If you feel there is enough usable pork to be worth salvaging, there's no reason not to be frugal.

    The freezer-burnt areas will be dry, leather and unpleasant to the taste. That's why it's best to cut them away and cook the remainder of the pork without them.

    Avoid freezer burn by packaging frozen foods properly in airtight, heavy-duty packaging.

Photo Credits

  • mastermilmar/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.