Yesterday, you bought pork tenderloin, shoulder, or maybe some ground pork, and you’re not sure if it will keep until tomorrow. How long does pork last?
Or maybe you have some pork leftovers, and you’re wondering how many days they stay safe to eat in the fridge.
If either sounds familiar, this article is for you. In it, we talk about:
- storing pork – how to do it and how long it keeps (instead of giving you a time frame for each possible type of pork meat, I will outline a few general rules to remember)
- pork going bad – how to tell if yours is still safe to eat or not
If that’s what you’re searching for, read on.
The rules below work for pretty much all kinds of pork meat. That means loin, tenderloin, shoulder, sirloin, and the rest of the available options. I also cover ground pork.
How Long Does Pork Last?
If your pork meat comes with a sell-by date on the package, the meat should keep for a day or two past that date. If there’s no date, assume whole cuts of pork keep for up to 5 days, ground pork for 1 to 2 days, and cooked and leftovers last for 3 to 4 days.
Vacuum-sealed or wrapped in plastic wrap pork almost always comes with a date on the label. And, in the case of fresh meat, an additional day or two is all you get.
If your pork comes wrapped in butcher paper and there’s no date, you need to figure out storage time yourself.
The easiest way to go about that is to assume whole cuts to keep for 3 to 5 days and ground pork for up to two days ([CANR]). Cooked pork products (e.g., sausages, pre-cooked meat, and the like) should keep 3 to 4 days.
Your meat might stay okay for an extra day or two longer, but that’s about it.
When it comes to leftovers, they keep for 3 to 4 days as well ([FS]).
If the mentioned periods aren’t long enough for your needs, your freezer comes to the rescue. You can freeze pork meat fresh or cook it first and freeze the leftovers. Or, if it’s a whole cut, make pork jerky.
|Pork (with sell-by date)||Date + 1 – 2 days|
|Pork (whole cuts)||4 -5 days|
|Pork (ground)||1 – 2 days|
|Pork (cooked or processed, no date)||3 – 4 days|
How To Store Pork
Store pork in the fridge in whatever it comes from the supermarket or butcher shop. If it was vacuum-sealed, transfer the leftovers into a freezer bag and refrigerate it, or better yet, freeze it.
When it comes to pork leftovers, store them in airtight containers or freezer bags, depending on what’s more convenient.
The main idea here is to keep pork tightly sealed.
For already processed meat cuts, such as smoked bacon or cooked ham, butcher paper is good enough (the same is true for smoked salmon). For raw meat, like pork shoulder, ham, or tenderloin, a vacuum-sealed package, a freezer, or plastic wrap are great choices.
If you discarded the original wrap or cannot reuse it after opening, going with an airtight bag is probably the safest option, no matter what meat you have.
Replacing butcher paper with sandwich paper doesn’t work – your meat will dry out in a matter of a few days. Use freezer paper or a freezer bag instead.
If you open up a sealed package (e.g., ground pork) and don’t intend to cook the whole thing right away, you can either refrigerate or freeze the rest.
The latter is usually the better solution since the meat probably won’t last more than a day or two in the fridge.
If you don’t have a meal plan for the next few days and don’t know when you’re going to cook your pork meat, freeze it once you get home. This way, you make sure you won’t find it spoiled in the fridge in a couple of days.
How To Tell If Pork Is Bad?
When checking your pork meat, remember the following:
- If ground pork has a dull color, slimy texture, or smells sour, it’s bad. You can easily assess the first two factors when buying ground pork in the supermarket.
- If pork, either raw or cooked, smells off or starts to change color, it’s gone.
- Throw out pork that sits in the fridge for too long. Pork, especially raw, spoils quickly. If yours is two or more days past its date or sits in the fridge for like a week, assume that it’s spoiled. Better safe than sorry.
Pork, just like chicken or beef, goes bad quickly.
If you’re unsure if yours is still okay to eat, it’s better to err on the side of caution and throw it out. I know meat is quite costly these days, but it’s never worth risking foodborne illness nonetheless.
- FS – Cold Food Storage Chart | FoodSafety.gov
- CANR – Handling, Using and Storing Pork | Michigan State University Extension
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