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Can You Freeze Pulled Pork: How to Do It + Reheating Tips
Pulled pork is the only dish you need to bring about all the Southern feels! The one thing I love about pulled pork is how easy it is to reuse it in other dishes. Left with some extra pulled pork? Just use it as filling in sandwiches and nachos!
However, what if you want to freeze pulled pork and use it at some other time? Well, I was confused about the same thing until I decided to try and freeze pulled pork.
You can freeze pulled pork for about three to six months, but there might be a loss of favors and texture. The best way to freeze it is by cooling it down first, then dividing the whole dish into sections, and storing them in tightly-sealed freezer bags.
If you want to know more about how to freeze pulled pork and get extra tips for reheating, read on!
Is It Possible to Freeze Pulled Pork?
You can freeze pulled pork for up to three months! I’ve heard of people who freeze it for up to six months, as it’s still safe to consume. However, the major drawback is the loss of the original quality and taste, which is a waste after all your hard work on preparing the pulled pork recipe.
There are many other changes that you need to remain aware of if you’re freezing pulled pork. I’ve mentioned below the ones that I observed when I froze a batch of pulled pork.
- Slight Loss of Moisture
When you freeze anything, including pulled pork, there’s a guaranteed loss of moisture. To get into the science of it, the air in the freezer tends to absorb the moisture from the food items.
So, the next time you remove pulled pork from the freezer, it won’t be as tender as before.
- Slight Loss of Taste
Another problem with freezing pulled pork is that it may lose its original taste and cooking juices.
When you freeze pulled pork, the moisture expands and turns into ice. Because of this, the cells present in the food simply erupt and lose their flavor!
The good news is that as long as you reheat the pulled pork nicely, you can resolve this problem.
- Freezer Burn
All frozen foods lose out on moisture, but sometimes, the issue gets a little more serious since there’s a risk of freezer burn.
I remember not freezing my pulled pork properly once. When I took it out for reheating, I found that it was completely discolored! Later on, I realized that it happens when the moisture from the meat evaporates completely and is replaced with oxygen.
Pulled pork with freezer burn is still safe to defrost and eat. However, I don’t recommend it because it might end up tasting bland and dry!
How to Freeze Pulled Pork?
One of my BBQ mates showed me this elaborate process of freezing pulled pork, and trust me, it’s the best one out there. You won’t have to worry about throwing it in the bin! So here are some tips on freezing pulled pork or any cut of meat:
Step 1: Allow the Pulled Pork to Cool
If you’re planning to freeze pulled pork, you always need to let it cool first. There are two reasons for this.
One, when you put anything hot in the freezer, the heat may cause the surrounding temperature to increase, which can damage the other frozen foods lying around.
Another problem is that the heat can condense and lead to additional moisture in the pulled pork. By the time you take it out, it may have gone stale! The moisture can also freeze into crystals, and ruin the pulled pork’s taste and texture.
I suggest placing the pulled pork into a wide tray and putting it below a fan. This way, it’ll come down to the room temperature, and you can store it well!
Step 2: Divide It Into Sections
You can choose to freeze every bit of pulled pork in a freezer. However, I recommend against it, if you’re planning to use it in batches.
The best way to go about freezing pulled pork is by dividing the entire dish into sections. Then, you can freeze it in separate bags of frozen food. I also label my freezer bags with the dish’s name and the date when I stored it. Trust me, you won’t have to open each bag to see which one contains pulled pork!
Step 3: Store the Sauce Separately (If Possible)
This is an optional step if you haven’t already mixed the pulled pork with barbecue sauce.
I don’t prefer storing pulled pork with BBQ sauce as there’s always a risk that the sauce may either dry out or gain excessive moisture. This can cause an alteration of taste. The sauce may also cause the pulled pork strands to stick together, which can make it harder to reheat.
So, if you want to store the sauce separately, you can simply pour it into an ice cube tray, and freeze it.
Just defrost the pulled pork and the sauce individually, and mix it together!
Step 4: Ensure Proper Sealing
A proper sealing technique is the secret to avoiding freezer burns.
When you don’t seal the freezer bags properly, you allow much air to come in and dry out the meat, which is responsible for freezer burns.
So, there are three ways to ensure proper sealing:
- Choose the right size of freezer bag and don’t go for too huge or too small freezer bags.
- Don’t put in too less pulled pork as that gives abundant space to air.
- Seal the bag properly by removing any extra air. You can also purchase and use a vacuum sealer for the best results.
After you’ve put the pulled pork in the freezer bags, only stack the bags together once they’ve frozen a bit.
How to Know If Frozen Pulled Pork Has Gone Bad?
Before you reheat the pork, you should always check if it has gone bad or not. Generally, frozen foods remain fresh. Yet, at times, if your freezer’s temperature is not below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the bacteria may grow and cause contamination.
There are many signs that show if frozen pulled pork has gone bad.
- Mushy or Slimy Texture
If you remove the bag of frozen pulled pork from the freezer for reheating, and it feels slimy, discard it immediately!
A mushy or sticky texture is a sure-shot sign of bacterial contamination. It shows that there’s abundant growth of bacteria on the surface, and the pulled pork is unfit for consumption.
I also suggest checking other signs, as a mushy texture can be a result of moisture accumulation too.
- Abnormal Color of Pulled Pork
Slight discoloration is common in frozen meats, including pork. Fresh pulled pork has a pinkish-brown color, which may fade a little during the freezing process. Due to freezer burns, the color might even change drastically.
However, when your pulled pork turns into an abnormal color, like green or yellow, there are high chances of mold formation. You might even be able to see mold growth on the pulled pork strands!
Keep in mind that even if there’s mold on one portion of the cooked pulled pork, throw away the entire bag!
- Bad and Pungent Odor
Pulled pork has a lovely smell of smoking. It may even smell of wood, depending on the one you’ve chosen for smoking.
But, if your frozen pulled pork has a pungent ammonia-like odor or sour smell, it has gone stale and you need to place the pork in the trash.
How to Reheat Frozen Pulled Pork?
There are numerous methods to defrost leftover pulled pork without losing its flavor. You can do it with the help of an oven, slow cooker, microwave, sous-vide method, and stove.
Before reheating, I suggest thawing the pork leftovers pulled pork by keeping it in the refrigerator overnight. Once I reheated it without thawing and ended up with a super dry and chewy texture!
Once you’ve thawed, follow any of the below-mentioned reheating methods.
Using an oven is one of the best methods to reheat leftover pork without ruining it, as it imparts the smokiness and flavors into it again. The only drawback is that this method is a bit time-consuming.
Given below is how to reheat pulled pork in the oven:
- First, preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Next, place the thawed pulled pork in the baking dish.
- Add a bit of extra sauce or broth to the pork.
- Heat the pork in the oven for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
Once the pulled pork is thoroughly heated, remove it from the oven.
If you’re looking for a quick reheating method, go for a microwave.
You just need to put the pulled pork in a microwave-safe dish and add a bit of broth, along with the BBQ sauce.
Then, microwave it for two to three minutes, till it’s reheated properly. Don’t microwave the dish too much as it may dry out!
You can also defrost your pulled pork using a stovetop.
All you have to do is preheat the skillet with some broth and add the pork to it. Mix the pulled pork and let it heat for around five minutes. Finally, you can also add BBQ sauce to add flavor to the dish.
Pulled pork is one of the few delicacies that I cannot ever say no to! The refreshing flavors of pork, combined with the goodness of BBQ, are enough to make me store any extra bit of the dish that’s left.
So, I hope this article also helps you freeze pulled pork properly!
Can I freeze pulled pork after 2 days?
If you stored pulled pork at room temperature for two days, it may have gone stale, and you shouldn’t freeze it. On the other hand, you can freeze two-day-old refrigerated pulled pork.
How do you freeze pulled pork with sauce?
The steps to freeze pulled pork with sauce remain the same, as you need to let it cool first, then divide it into various sections, and store it in freezer bags.