When it comes to grilling, things don’t always work out the way we planned. Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, or the party ends up being smaller than we expected. In these cases, it’s often best to cut our losses and save the ingredients for another time.
But what happens if you were already using meat that you’d saved for another time? Can you refreeze pork chops once they’ve been fully thawed? You’ll find the answers in this guide.
Can You Refreeze Pork Chops?
Yes, it’s permissible to refreeze pork chops, even if you haven’t gotten around to cooking them off yet. As long as the meat has only been in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and you stored it at temperatures below 40 degrees the entire time, refreezing the pork chops shouldn’t cause any food safety issues.
How Long Can You Store Pork In The Freezer?
In theory, pork won’t spoil as long as it’s frozen at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. In practice, it’s better to thaw the meat within 3 to 6 months. Otherwise, it might be prone to freezer burn, which makes the cooked meat too dry.
Can You Refreeze Pork Chops Without Cooking Them First?
I used to believe that it was dangerous to refreeze any raw meat without cooking it off first. In fact, the practice is safe enough as long as you’ve followed the proper guidelines for storage and handling.
If you’ve left the pork chops out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours (or 1 hour if the temperature is 90 degrees or higher), you should discard the pork whether you plan to freeze it or cook it. At these temperatures, bacteria multiply quickly, so the meat is no longer safe to consume.
Similarly, if the meat was thawed in a cold-water bath or the microwave, you should cook it right away. These methods may cause the meat to stray into the “danger zone” between 40 and 140 degrees, so you need to heat them to a safe temperature as soon as possible.
As long as you thawed the pork chops in the refrigerator, it’s fine to refreeze them without cooking them. Be aware, however, that the meat might be a little bit drier than you’d like after the second thaw.
How To Freeze Pork
Before freezing or refreezing pork, seal the meat tightly in freezer paper or freezer bags. Force as much air as possible out of the package before forming a tight seal. If too much air gets in the package, ice crystals may form on the meat.
If you’re using freezer paper, add a layer of aluminum foil. Label the package with the contents and the date. You might also want to note whether this is the first or second time you’re freezing the pork, just so you don’t keep thawing and refreezing the batch.
Tip: For large batches, consider wrapping smaller portions of the meat so you can thaw and consume only as much as you need. This is good advice whether the meat is raw or cooked.
How Long Can Thawed Pork Keep in The Fridge?
Plan on cooking the thawed pork as soon as possible. The less time it spends in the refrigerator, the better. That said, it should keep for 3 to 4 days, depending on how long it was around before you put it in the freezer.
If you waited 3 or 4 days before freezing the pork, it won’t last as long once it’s thawed. Conversely, pork chops that were frozen right away might keep for an additional 4 days when you pull them from the freezer.
Remember: Freezing foods keeps new bacteria from forming, but it doesn’t kill bacteria that were already present. Keeping pork in your fridge for 3 days before freezing and 3 days after thawing may allow these unwanted organisms to multiply rapidly.
Also, note that you don’t have to thaw pork chops before cooking them. Cooking them from their frozen state will take about 50 percent longer, but it might still save you some time depending on how thick the chops are.
Can You Refreeze Cooked Pork Chops?
It should be safe to thaw and refreeze cooked pork chops, as long as you’ve followed the same safety guidelines you would adhere to when dealing with raw pork.
Make sure the meat has cooled thoroughly before you freeze it. When you try to freeze ingredients that are still warm, they raise the surrounding freezer temperature, which can have an adverse effect on the rest of the contents.
Always put cooked meat in the fridge within 2 hours. If it’s hotter than 90 degrees, you should refrigerate leftovers after 1 hour.
Don’t refreeze the pork if it’s been in the refrigerator for more than 3 days. That will create too large a window for bacteria to form once you’ve thawed it a second time.
We would also recommend thawing and reheating cooked pork chops within 1 to 3 months if possible. The meat may not spoil in the freezer, but the texture will suffer the longer it’s kept in there.
One final note regarding texture: Meat that’s been refrozen has a drier texture than if you’d frozen and thawed it only once. Keep this in mind if you’re considering putting cooked pork chops back in the freezer.
Other Tips On Safe Thawing
As we pointed out, it’s best to thaw pork chops in the refrigerator, whether they’re raw or cooked. Set the meat on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator, toward the back. This will help it stay at a consistently low temperature as it thaws.
On a related note, be sure the refrigerator temperature is set below 40 degrees. Bacteria thrive in warmer temperatures, so keeping a cold fridge is essential to food safety.
Never attempt to thaw meat on the counter. You might think this will save time, but in truth, all it does is invite bacteria to set up camp. If you want to thaw the pork chops quickly, use the cold-water method.
The Bottom Line
There’s no question that refreezing meat can affect the texture. Fortunately, pork chops can still taste delicious even if they’ve been thawed and refrozen. If your plans change at the last minute, or if you have more meat on hand than you need, feel free to put those pork chops back in the freezer.