Buying, Handling, and Storing Pork -

Buying, Handling, and Storing Pork

Properly storing pork will cut down on waste, help ensure safety, and make food prep easier!

Buying Pork

Finding the right cut, amount, and quality of pork depends on your meal needs.
  • Pork that is a pinkish-red color will provide a better eating experience.
  • Avoid choosing meat that is pale in color and has liquid in the package.
  • Look for pork that has marbling, or small flecks of fat. Marbling is what adds flavor.
  • Avoid choosing any meat that has a dark-colored bone.
  • The fat of the pork should be white with no dark spots.
  • The average serving size for pork is 3 ounces of cooked meat. Start with 4 ounces of boneless, raw pork to yield 3 ounces of cooked pork. A 3-ounce serving is about the same thickness as a deck of cards.

Handling Pork

Never taste a food to see if it is spoiled. It is always best to use the rule of “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Safe Pork Handling

Before and after handling raw pork, wash your hands thoroughly with soapy, hot water. Do not cross-contaminate and be sure to keep your raw pork juices away from other foods. Always remember to wash all utensils that came in contact with the raw pork before using them on other foods.

It is important to keep your raw meats refrigerated to ensure safety. If food has been left in the “danger zone” – between 40 and 140° F – pathogenic bacteria can grow.

Because of modern feeding practices, trichinosis is no longer a concern. Although trichina is virtually nonexistent in pork, if it were present, it would be killed at 137° F. That’s well below the recommended end cooking temperature for pork, which is 145° F, followed by a 3-minute rest time.

Storing Pork

How long can I keep my pork in the refrigerator?

Cut Time

Ground Pork

1-2 days

Pork chops, tenderloin or roasts

2-4 days

Smoked ham (whole and sliced)

3-4 days opened


5-7 days

Sausage, hot dogs, deli meat

7 days opened

How long can I keep my fresh pork in the freezer?

Cut Time

Ground Pork

1-3 months

Pork chops, tenderloin or roasts

3-6 months

Whole, cooked ham

freezing not recommended

Leftover ham

2-3 months


1 month

Sausage, hot dogs, deli meat

freezing not recommended

Pork Storage & Handling

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How do I properly wrap my fresh pork to keep it in the freezer? 
  • Use one of these freezer wrap materials: specially-coated freezer paper (place the waxed side against the meat); heavy-duty aluminum foil; heavy-duty polyethylene film; heavy-duty plastic bags.
  • Re-wrap pork in convenient portions: leave roasts whole, place chops in meal-size packages, shape ground pork into patties. Put a double layer of waxed paper between chops and patties.
  • Cover sharp bones with extra paper so the bones do not pierce the wrapping.
  • Wrap the meat tightly, pressing as much air out of the package as possible.
  • Label with the name of the pork cut and date.
  • Freeze at 0° F or lower.

Defrosting & Thawing Pork

The best way to defrost pork is in the refrigerator in its wrapping.

Small Roast

3-5 hours per pound

Large roast

4-7 hours

One-inch thick chop

12-14 hours

Ground pork

estimated by package thickness

Can I use my microwave to defrost pork? 
Follow the microwave manufacturer’s guidelines for defrosting meat. Cook meat immediately after microwave-thawing.

Can I cook partially thawed pork?
It is safe to cook frozen or partially-frozen pork in the oven, on the stove, or on the grill without defrosting it first; the cooking time may be about 50% longer. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Do not cook frozen pork in a slow cooker.

Can pork be refrozen if it has thawed?
Once the food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through defrosting.