Pork chops come from the loin portion of the pig and are meaty and flavorful. They're typically sold in styrofoam trays, although they're sometimes vacuum packed. If you buy a large value pack, immediately repackage and freeze the pork chops you can't use. Let your senses guide you when determining whether a pork chop is fresh, and don't forget to follow safe food-handling guidelines.
Uncooked Pork Chops
When determining whether uncooked pork chops have gone bad, first examine the packaging. If the pork chops have not passed the sell-by date listed on the package, they're probably still good if they were handled correctly. The package should have no rips in it, and should have been properly refrigerated. Uncooked pork chops can safely be refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for up to three days, or one to two days past the sell-by date. Fresh pork chops are light pink to white. If the pork chops are gray or brown, they have started to spoil. Open the package and smell the pork chops. If they have a sour or unpleasant odor, throw them out.
Cooked Pork Chops
It's a little harder to tell whether cooked pork chops have spoiled. When in doubt, throw it out. Use cooked pork chops within two to three days, and reheat them thoroughly before you eat them. If they have a slimy appearance or an off-odor, discard them.
Frozen Pork Chops
freeze pork chops in their original packaging for as long as six months. After that, they are probably still safe to eat, but the quality goes down significantly. As long as they are frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, they won't spoil. However, they may develop freezer burn, which causes dryness or gray or brown patches to form on the surface of the chops. Thaw pork chops in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter. If you notice a sour odor, do not serve them.
Err on the side of caution if you suspect that pork chops have spoiled, especially if you're cooking for elderly or young children, who have a harder time recovering from foodborne illnesses. If the pork chops seem fresh, cook them until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash your utensils and cutting board in hot, soapy water before using them for other foods, and refrigerate any leftovers within two hours of serving them.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."