A big issue you'll find with barbecue is that it can tend to be pretty wasteful. Whether you're trimming away fat or you're having to throw away leftovers that won't get eaten in time.
Not many people realize that you can safely freeze your barbecue (and trimmings). Pulled pork is a great example of a meat you can freeze to be reheated later - with not much disparity in quality either.
Freezing cooked pulled pork is fairly straight forward. The two main ways I opt to freeze pulled pork are:
Of these two options, I use Ziploc bags more often simply because I'm cheap.
I also don't tend to cook tons of pulled pork at once and I end up reheating the pulled pork before it freezer burns in the Ziploc bags.
If you're someone who is looking to freeze for long-term storage then you should be vacuum sealing your pulled pork; Doing so will greatly extend its useful life.
Vacuum sealers are also fairly affordable these days.
The one I use is the Inkbird Vacuum sealer machine - at the time of writing, it's between $50-$60. You can also get four rolls of vacuum sealer bags from Inkbird for somewhere between $25-$30 for 100 feet.
Personally, I like to freeze up pulled pork into smaller portions so that I can simply grab as much as I need as apposed to freezing and reheating all of it at once.
First start by sizing your bag for the amount of pulled pork you have. You then need to seal one end to create a bag.
On the Inkbird Vacuum sealer, it has a "sealing strip" that you lay your bag across - don't put the bag inside the vacuum chamber, lay the bag across it.
Then close the lid so that it's locked. Then press "seal."
You can then flip the bag over to roll side and use the slicer on top of the sealer to size your bag. You now have a "bag" with a sealed end that you can fill with pulled pork.
Once filled, you need to vacuum seal the pulled pork by placing the open end inside the vacuum chamber. You then close the top and lock the ends.
Then you press "vacuum seal" and wait.
When it's done, you can unlock the top and you're done and you can place the pulled pork in your freezer.
In most cases, I'm always too lazy to use my vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealing bags are also quite expensive, where-as Ziploc bags are fairly cheap and are convenient to grab.
I almost always will use up the frozen pulled pork within a month at most. If you need the pulled pork to last longer than 3 months, I'd strongly suggest using a vacuum sealer.
Similar to what I said above, I like to portion out pulled pork based on when I plan to use it. Meaning, I use multiple bags as apposed to freezing all of it in the same bag.
Before freezing, I also like to place the pulled pork in the fridge so that the temperature can come down below 40F. This way we're minimizing the amount of condensation in the bags.
Once cooled, simply place the pulled pork in the bag and then roll the bag on itself so that the bag pushes out as much oxygen as possible.
The goal here is to minimize freezer burn. A quick word on freezer burn:
The reason freezer burn occurs is because of a process called "sublimation." Essentially, the moisture in your food skips a phase change from a solid state to a gas state.
In the case of pulled pork, this is moisture drawn out and then redeposited on the surface of the food as ice crystals.
Freezer burn can happen as quickly as a few months - which is why I said freezing with Ziploc bags is not a long term solution.
Once you've pushed out as much oxygen from the bags as possible, you can place the pulled pork in your freezer.
If possible, I'd suggest freezing pulled pork without the sauce - especially since some sauces can separate upon freezing.
For instance, sauces that feature fats can separate or "break."
Most barbecue sauces can freeze though - which are usually a combination of sugars, vinegar, tomato ketchup, mustard, etc. However, I know some sauces include mayonnaise like Alabama white sauce, which does not freeze well.
A stereotypical finishing sauce for pulled pork is vinegar or mustard-based which will freeze fine.
If anything, check the ingredients of the sauce and see if it can freeze well. That or put some of the sauce in an ice cube tray and see what happens upon freezing.
Note: This is also another reason I portion out my pulled pork into multiple bags. Freezing with sauce can cause the meat to ball up and make separating small amounts much harder.
This greatly depends on how you stored it.
If you opted to freeze with Ziploc storage bags, the meat will last for 2-3 months before it succumbs to freezer burn. Freezer burn has a negative impact on both the outward appearance of the meat and the taste.
If you opted to freeze with vacuum sealer bags, the meat can be frozen for 9-12 months.
While the above are my experiences, in order to completely answer this question, I personally messaged Ziploc (ScJohnson) as well as Inkbird to get their comments.
Here are their responses.
ScJohnson email response:
Inkbird referred me to their chart:
So as we can see, both their quoted time frames line up with my own experiences. Ziploc/ScJohnson quoted 2-3 months for prepared meats.
Inkbird said 1 year (12 months) for meats. Normal storage life refers to using freezer bags, which they note is 3-5 months. This range is one you find regurgitated across the internet for this topic.
If you use someone else for your freezer bags, it's best to contact them directly as Ziploc explicitly noted 2-3 months for prepared meats like pulled pork.