How Long to Defrost Pork Shoulder

When it comes to preparing a pork shoulder, defrosting is crucial for even cooking and optimal results.

So wondering how long it takes to defrost a pork shoulder, we’re here to help. Whether you’re planning a succulent roast or a flavorful pulled pork dish, understanding the defrosting process is essential.

We’ll guide you through the recommended methods and estimated defrosting times for a pork shoulder, ensuring you have the knowledge to safely and effectively thaw this versatile cut of meat.

So, let’s explore the best practices for defrosting a pork shoulder and get ready to enjoy a mouthwatering cut.

defrosting-a-pork-shoulder

How Long Does It Takes to Thaw Frozen Pork Shoulder?

The average thawing time of an average-sized pork shoulder is 48 hours.

Although this does depend on the method and size of the cut. See below for a more in-depth look at defrosting a tasty pork shoulder!

The Rate of Defrosting in a Refrigerator

We recommend defrosting at a fridge temperature of 37°F. Refrigerator thawing is the safest method for defrosting raw pork.

Pork Butt and pork shoulder will thaw at a rate of 5 pounds per 24 hours.

How to Defrost Pork Shoulder in the Refrigerator

– Organize the bottom level of the fridge for the size of your pork shoulder.

This will give you ample space and avoid contamination.

– Place in a tray to catch the water.
– Remove the shoulder from the freezer and straight into the fridge.
– Thaw as per the above timing.
– Check they have thawed completely as per further instructions.

The Rate of Defrosting Using Cold Water

Defrosting with cold water in a sink is another viable method, but you will need to make sure the water temperature stays below 40°F.

In cold water, pork shoulder will thaw at a rate of 6-7 pounds per 24 hours.

How to Defrost Pork Shoulder With the Cold Water Method

– Keep the product in its original packaging.
– Fill your sink with cold tap water.
– Submerge the shoulder joint in the cold water bath. (Straight after removing them from the freezer)
– Replace the water every 30 minutes.
– Thaw as per the above timing.
– Check your cuts of meat have thawed completely.

Example of Defrosting a 12-Pound Frozen Pork Shoulder

12 pounds of meat will take just over 2 days to thaw in the refrigerator.

12 pounds of meat will take just under 2 days to thaw in cold water.

how-long-to-defrost-a-pork-shoulder

What Is the Average Weight of a Pork Shoulder?

The average weight for a pork shoulder is 12-16 pounds. Knowing the exact weight is vital for estimating how long it takes to thaw. So make sure you consider if it is bone-in or bone-out!

Boneless pork shoulder (known as the butt) will defrost at a quicker rate. This is because the bone holds temperatures for a longer amount of time.

Can You Defrost Pork Shoulder in a Microwave?

You can’t defrost large cuts of meat like a pork shoulder. From a practical point of view, I doubt your domestic machine can even fit one.

But the important thing to note is the safety aspect.

Large cuts of meat like the shoulder will not defrost evenly in a microwave. You risk a frozen inside and defrosted exterior.

This is a safety risk for bacteria growth and is covered in the next section.

Note: You can defrost cooked meat in the microwave. Set your appliance to the defrost setting and check in 10-minute intervals.

Food Safety Advice to Avoid Bacteria Growth

Bacterial growth from pork is nasty! So be careful during the thawing process and consider the below.

– Keep frozen raw pork sealed to stop contamination.
– Keep frozen or raw meat out of the “danger zone” temperature range.
– Do not defrost with hot water.
– Know the signs of spoiled meat. (Read further)
– Clean surfaces with hot soapy water.
– Always use a thermometer to know the pork shoulder is fully defrosted.

The ‘Danger Zone

A whole pork shoulder can be left at room temp for up to 60 minutes.

Do not leave any raw or thawing shoulder meat at temps between 40°F – 140°F for longer.

How Long Can Defrosted Pork Shoulder Stay in the Fridge?

Defrosted meat will last up to 3 days in the fridge, any longer and the meat proteins will start to break down.

How Long Can I Freeze Pork Shoulder?

You can technically freeze meat forever – don’t!

Over 3 months will cause what is known as “freezer burn”. This is when the frozen moisture within the proteins deteriorates.

Know the Physical Signs of Frozen Pork Shoulder

Frozen meat is cold and hard to the touch. The packaging for the pork shoulder may still have ice crystals or condensation.

What about the physical signs? The pork meat should have a little bounce to the touch… This is a quick indication you no longer have frozen meat.

Use a Meat Thermometer to Be Sure

Physical signs are a great start, but be sure to use a food thermometer.

Using a calibrated instant-read thermometer will give you the exact temperature. This is the most precise and accurate way of knowing if the shoulder joint has thawed.

Note: This tool is exceptionally handy for larger cuts like the one in question. You can insert the probe right into the thicker parts with ease.

What Reading Is a Safe Internal Temperature for Thawed Pork?

The safe temperature for your thawed pork meat is 32°F – 39°F. Insert that probe into the middle and thickest part and avoid it touching the shoulder bone if your cut still has it in.

Note: Sticking your probe in raw meat will cause contamination and the risk of a foodborne illness.

Do not forget to safely clean it straight afterward.

Is My Defrosted Pork Shoulder Bad? – How to Tell

Below is my guide to inspecting if the meat has gone bad.

Remember that thawed meat has a higher chance of bacteria growth. Due to a longer time (usually past the initial sell-by-date) and temperature changes.

Check the Shelf Life on the Packaging

The first thing is to check the use-by date. The manufacturer is legally required to monitor and set a date when processing. If you have frozen the meat you can be pretty sure it is past this date… So
cook on the day of thawing to avoid the meat spoiling.

The general rule of thumb time for refrigerator storage is 3 days from purchase.

Air Exposure to Raw Meat

Did you remove the shoulder from the original packaging or was it wrapped loosely by the butcher? Checked for a breach in the seal? Exposure to air accelerates the growth of bacteria.

Check the packaging for holes when defrosting. Or move to an airtight container after purchase before freezing.

Texture of Pork Meat

If you are still not sure then check for a slimy texture. If it has an overly sticky texture it is an obvious sign of rotten meat.

Air exposure can also cause moisture loss. A dry texture and crumbly consistency can also indicate this.

Color of Bad Pork

Fresh and safe-to-eat pork is a light pink or beige. A darker or brownish color is not what you want!

Bad meat will also tend to go a gray color from oxidization.

Inspect for signs of discoloration in raw pork carefully. This is because it might be a different color in the middle or at the bottom.

Smell of Spoiled Pork

Probably the most effective way to know if meat products are bad…

As a foul odor is very hard to ignore. This definitive smell may stink of rotten eggs. Or have a characteristic sulfur-like smell.

Not Sure What to Do With Your Leftover Pork Shoulder?

The best thing about cooking a whole pork shoulder is the leftovers! Here are some of my favorite ways to use up the leftover pork shoulder, my favorite would have to be the tacos

Smoke On!

Charlie

Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

Hungry For More?

Smoke On!

Charlie

Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

Hungry For More?

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