Juicy, savory and lean. Pork tenderloin is the premiere cut of meat that comes from swine. Due to this, it is usually accompanied with a much larger price tag than alternative pork products.
Thus, if you prepare more than you can eat, can you freeze cooked pork tenderloin? We chop through the hogwash and get you the details that will help you to save some cash in that piggy bank!
When purchased at the store, the average pork tenderloin weighs between two to three pounds. Thus, unless you are serving a large crowd, you will likely have leftovers. Thankfully, you can safely freeze cooked pork tenderloin for two to three months!
However, in order to guarantee this storage time frame, one must take care to properly refrigerate the meat prior to freezing. Moreover, it is always best to cut the large chunk of meat into individual serving sizes. Vacuum packing the slices can also elongate the shelf life of the pork.
- Pork Tenderloin Storage Guidelines — Fridge & Freezer
- Reheating Frozen Cooked Pork Tenderloin
- Final Thoughts
Pork Tenderloin Storage Guidelines — Fridge & Freezer
Just like filet mignon and beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin is an extremely lean piece of meat. This cut is taken from the interior loin section of the pig and it is almost completely void of fat. While this makes for a melt in your mouth morsel, it can also lead to the meat drying out quite quickly.
Unfortunately, when not stored properly, this problem only becomes exacerbated. Thankfully, there are some simple ways to ensure that your little piggy stays juicy and delicious!
Pick A Good Cut Of Tenderloin
“When buying pork, look for cuts with a relatively small amount of fat over the outside and with meat that is firm and a grayish-pink color. For the best flavor and tenderness, meat should have a small amount of marbling.” Make sure to also shop for meats at the back of the shelf. This is where grocery stores put the newest cuts.
Check the ‘Best Buy’ date to confirm freshness. Moreover, refrigerated and frozen products should always be put in the cart very last. This limits the amount of time they are out of proper storage temperatures.
Furthermore, if you do not intend to eat the pork tenderloin immediately, you can freeze this product prior to cooking for up to six months. That is, as long as it is frozen within four days of purchase.
Cook The Meat Properly
In order to ensure safe storage of cooked pork tenderloin, one must first cook the meat properly in order to eliminate the presence of dangerous bacteria. As of 2020, the “USDA has lowered the recommended safe cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork from 160 ºF to 145 ºF with the addition of a three-minute rest time.
Cook pork, roasts, and chops to 145 ºF as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source, with a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming. This will result in a product that is both safe and at its best quality—juicy and tender.”
Slice Up Individual Portions Of Pork Tenderloin Before You Freeze
Once you have allowed the pork tenderloin to cool, slice the meat into the desired sizes for individual consumption. This is important for two reasons. First, it allows for the meat to freeze more rapidly.
This decreases the instance of large ice crystals forming on the meat. While this may seem trivial, when it occurs, so does dehydration. As we all know, that means that the meat will be dry when you go to eat it again.
Second, the thawing and reheating process is much simpler and less time consuming when you make the effort to separate individual cuts of meat. This also eliminates food waste.
Practice Safe Storage Until You Freeze The Pork Tenderloin
Once pork tenderloin has been cooked, it will only last in the fridge for three to four days, meaning, you need to eat or freeze the meat promptly. However, improper storage after cooking and prior to freezing can lead to rapid spoilage.
The Food & Drug Administration has found that “leaving perishable foods out for two hours or more allows bacteria to multiply rapidly — and can put you at serious risk of contracting foodborne illness.”
Therefore, make a point to put food away immediately. Furthermore, always keep the meat in the coldest part of the fridge to guarantee optimal and safe storage. Your refrigerator should be set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler.
Also, make a point to freeze the meat prior to the refrigeration time frame ending.
Packaging Is Paramount
Vacuum sealing is a fantastic way to lock in the moisture and prevent freezer burn. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has found that “producing a vacuum means removing air from the contents of a package.
Oxygen in environmental air does promote certain reactions in foods which cause deterioration of quality. […] Therefore, removal of oxygen from the environment will preserve certain quality characteristics and extend the food’s shelf life based on quality.”
However, if you do not have a vacuum sealer available, the food experts at Clemson University advise “for frozen storage, wrap [the] meat in heavy foil, freezer wrap, or place [it] in a freezer container. For optimum taste, use [the] meat within two to three months.”
This is also the case for pork chops and pork roast! You can even freeze sauerkraut separately to pair with your pork roast or as a combined dish.
Conversely, if you choose to freeze cooked breaded pork tenderloin, it will only last for two months in the freezer. Additionally, stuffed pork tenderloin will only stay fresh for one month. For stuffed products, remember to remove any toothpicks prior to freezing.
Also, for those who want to better guarantee the freezer life span of their meat, consider using multiple packaging methods. Therefore, once cool, wrap the meat in freezer wrap, then aluminum foil and finally a freezer safe ziplock bag. Make sure to remove as much air as possible.
Finally, do not forget to label your meat with the date of freezing. This can ensure that you eat the pork tenderloin in a timely fashion. It also helps you to get the most out of your purchase!
Reheating Frozen Cooked Pork Tenderloin
Defrost Pork Tenderloin Slowly
While you want a rapid freeze to lock in the moisture, the opposite is true when you thaw it out. The USDA notes that “planning ahead is the key to this method because of the lengthy time involved. A large frozen item like a turkey requires at least a day (24 hours) for every 5 pounds of weight.
Even small amounts of frozen food — such as a pound of ground meat or boneless chicken breasts — require a full day to thaw. When thawing foods in the refrigerator, there are variables to take into account.”
Therefore, meal plan for the week and pull out the frozen pork tenderloin slices. If you need to expedite this activity, utilize the cold water method or the microwave. This will help to prevent the emergence of dangerous bacteria.
However, if you employ these techniques, you cannot refreeze the meat again. Lastly, make sure to use these products within three to five days of pulling them out of the freezer. Otherwise, you will need to throw them out.
Cook The Meat Properly, Again
Bacteria has a sneaky way of resurfacing, even with proper cooking and storage. Therefore, always err on the side of caution. “When reheating leftovers, make sure that they have been cooked to 165 °F.” Moreover, if you notice changes in the smell or appearance of the meat, throw it out!
If you choose to skip defrosting the meat, you can cook frozen pork tenderloin safely in the oven. Just make sure to bake it at a temperature of 325 degrees or greater. The time will be dependent on the amount of meat that you are cooking.
Conversely, if you choose to do this activity in the crock pot, know that while you can, it is not recommended. However, for those who forego this advice, make sure to cook it slowly and check the meat often.
Moreover, no matter what method of reheating you choose, when dealing with frozen meat, the cook times could take as much as 50% longer than thawed meat.
According to the Center For Science In The Public Interest, pork is in the medium risk category for severe food borne illnesses. Clearly, ground beef and chicken are a much bigger threat. However, it is still imperative to stay proactive.
In years past, a study was conducted by Consumer Reports to determine the likelihood of dangerous bacteria in your pork products. “We tested 148 samples of meat from pork chops and 50 from ground pork, and found that almost 70 percent tested positive for yersinia enterocolitica, which can infect people who eat raw or undercooked pork.”
Thankfully, you can easily kill these microorganisms with proper cooking and storage. Just make sure to cook your meat to the recommended temperatures. Also, confirm that freezer temperatures remain at a consistent 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
If this is the case, then it is safe to freeze your cooked, baked or roasted pork tenderloin for up to three months.
Heidi is a wife, mother, Newfie owner, writer and Meteorologist. She was born and raised in Texas and has worked in the broadcast industry for over a decade.