Pork! This guilty-pleasure meat is a popular delicacy in many parts of the world. However, there is more to pork than just binging on it. Can you identify spoilt pork chops? Knowing how to tell if pork is bad should not be left to your butcher only!
Educate yourself on how to pick good meat, how to tell if pork is bad as well as effective storage tips for pork.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Meat
When choosing meat, several factors should be considered. These include:
- Freshness – probably one of the most important factors is how fresh the meat is. Meat should be palatable and fresh to prevent bacteria related illnesses.
- Quality – depending on the type of meat, the quality will vary immensely. Where the meat is obtained from also matters. For instance, game meat is considered more exotic compared to chicken. Another factor which contributes to the quality is the preservation techniques used. For example smoked meat is highly valued.
- Type of cut – animal carcasses are usually segmented into different parts. Each part has its own unique composition and texture that is ideal for specific cooking methods.
- Cost – each cut of meat has a different cost. For example, beef fillet (tenderloin) is quite costly compared to minced meat or sirloin steak.
- Availability – some cuts of meat tend to sell more than others, thus become rare to find.
- Amount of meat to use – the number of people to cook for is also important as it prevents unnecessary wastage and loss.
From a sizzling roast pork chop to sweet and savoury stir-fry, your family or friends are sure to enjoy the delicacies that pork offer.
Pork meat is usually in form of a wide range of products. These include ham, bacon, pork sausages, pork belly, spare ribs, rack joint, gammon, pork chops, steak and smoked pork.
Before stocking up on pork, it is crucial to identify the level of freshness.
How to Tell If Pork Is Bad
There are several ways you can use to determine bad pork.
An age-old trick of identifying how fresh meat is to touch it.
Fresh pork should be firm but not hard or tough. The meat should be wet but not oozing with moisture or blood.
Avoid pork that is too dry as this could mean that the expiry date is near.
Another important aspect of texture is marbling. Marbling refers to visible fat specs interlaced on meat. The marbling should be white and firm. Discolored patches of fat which appear yellow or black is an indication of spoilage.
Bad pork tends to be sticky, hard and limp.
An easy way to determine freshness in meat is by smelling.
Fresh pork hardly emits any odor. On the other hand, bad pork will give off a strong, sour odor which resembles the smell of ammonia.
Preserved or processed pork can emit smell based on what was used to preserve the meat.
Smoked pork will have a smoky, woody smell. It is therefore important to distinguish the smell as per the state of meat.
Changes in Color
Color is also a major defining factor in how to tell if pork is bad.
Very fresh pork usually has a rose pink-reddish hue and is the best to use.
The longer pork stays, the more its color will continue to change. Depending on how it is stored, oxidation can affect the color and make the meat to become pale or deep red.
Avoid pork with a pale hue as this means that it has stayed for too long. Discoloration on the bones is another indication of spoilage.
Read Through the Meat Label
Packaged meat will have written labels for packaging dates used on the meat. Never fail to read the meat label thoroughly.
Look out for information about the sell by date, use by date, best chilled by as well as the expiration date.
This will come in handy when you want to store the meat for future use. You will know how fast to use the meat before spoilage.
In case you desire to freeze, refrigerate or prolong the shelf life of the meat, the packaging dates will guide you on how long the meat will retain its freshness.
How Best To Store Pork
Knowing how fresh pork is goes a long in helping you with effective storage.
Spoilage is easily prevented by proper storage techniques. This also helps to prolong the shelf life which helps to reduce household budget.
Now that you know how to tell if pork is bad, the next hurdle is implementing effective storage methods. Check them out!
Freezing can work well for both raw and cooked pork if properly executed.
The secret in effective freezing is to portion the pork into suitable portions before freezing. This allows you to use only what you require in each meal. It also eradicates refreezing which can affect the quality and shelf life of the meat.
Freezing pork requires durable and tightly seal-able equipment which will not cause cross-contamination as well as oxidation due to dry air or ice. Ideal ones include heavy duty wrapping sheets, aluminium foil, Ziplock bags or airtight containers.
These materials prevent dripping of meat juices onto other frozen items and also dirtying the freezer.
Freeze similar cuts of pork together.
Separate cooked pork from raw to avoid cross-contamination. You should also minimise freezing cooked meat as it affects the quality, texture and taste.
Before freezing, label each wrapped item well by indicating the type of cut and first day of freezing.
Well-frozen and undisturbed pork can keep well for half a year.
This works well for short-term use. For instance, if you have pork leftovers and are wondering what to do with them, you can refrigerate and use within a few days.
Like freezing, refrigerated pork should also be tightly wrapped to avoid oxidation which hastens the rotting process.
Never mix different types of meat together when refrigerating or freezing. This can lead to serious food poisoning.
Ancient meat preservation techniques have stood the test of time and are still applicable in this modern era.
Salting, curing, smoking, drying and fermenting are some of the common preservation methods. Luckily, they are simple enough to be attempted from the comfort of your own home.
Preserving your own meat gives you the satisfaction in trusting the end product more, compared to store bought preserved meat.
The most important aspects to consider when preserving pork are:
- Temperature – ensure there is controlled temperature when using certain methods such as drying or fermenting. Fluctuating temperature will affect the quality of meat.
- Air circulation – this is also crucial during drying or smoking as it facilitates proper extraction of moisture. It also ensures that the entire meat is evenly preserved.
- Concentration level of preserving agents – highly critical when salting, brining or fermenting meat. Balance out the ratios of preserving agents and amount of meat.
- Thickness of meat – ensure that the meat pieces are evenly cut before preserving. Meat pieces that are too thick may not absorb the preserving agents well. They may therefore need a longer preserving duration.
Pork is one of the most enjoyable and delicious meats to cook. Handle it well by proper storage and learn how to tell if pork is bad by following the mentioned tips.