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Pork Thawing question

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Ok, I have ~450 lbs of frozen pork butts that I need to thaw out. I plan to do the smoke this coming weekend. I don't have that much room in my fridge, and I don't have that much room in coolers (but cooler space can come close). I will have that much cooler space Thursday night, but not until then.

For thawing in coolers, should I just drop the frozen butts in and let them thaw out? They'll be fine/safe thawing in a cooler right? How long in advance should I start the thawing?

Some of the butts are still in their cases (as they came). Could I just wrap the cases up in blankets and towels to keep them cool but still allow them to thaw?

Any other tips/advice on thawing, then transporting that much pork?
post #2 of 11
Never thawed that much meat before. I wouldn't think just piling them in a cooler would be a good idea, I would think having them in a single layer for more even/safer thawing would be better, but that would require a lot of coolers. Just my thoughts, maybe Im wrong.
post #3 of 11
I would try to talk to a local grocer or butcher ( not a chain) and see if they would allow you to put them in the walk in today or tomorrow to do a slow thaw. I would not count on coolers being safe food handling practice. Another idea would be to contact some local churches to see if you can use their fridges or a boys and girls club. Usually during the week they have less kitchen activity
Good luck
post #4 of 11
It is going to take several days to thaw that much meat out. When we do out venison sausage we have trim frozen in 20 lb bags and they take several days to thaw out in the cooler.
post #5 of 11
X's 2........
post #6 of 11
I use a separate fridge. If you put a lot of meat in a Refrigerator/Freezer, you can cause problems. When I put three big frozen Salmon fillets in a refrigerator to thaw, the Salmon makes the fridge so cold that the Fridge/Freezer won't run for two days, causing anything you have in the freezer to begin to thaw.PDT_Armataz_01_19.gif
So I got a cheap Refrigerator/Freezer, and I don't put anything in that freezer. I use it strictly for the refrigerator part of it.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
And thats the principle that I'm hoping will apply to the coolers. The meat will provide it's own cool environment.

I'm going to try it out, carefully monitoring temperature inside the coolers. Worst case scenario I have to put it back in the freezer for a bit to chill the exterior of the meat a bit to keep things cool. I put the pork and temp probe in the cooler that is most likely to get too warm last night and the temp was holding steady around 15 degrees. I'll see what things look like today after work.

It also turns out that I do have enough cooler space; once the butts thaw a little and "squish" down. I have 6 coolers full, and only 5 pairs of butts that wouldn't fit.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
48 hours update.

The pork in some of the better coolers is still rock hard. You guys got me scared about it thawing too quickly and I'm not sure if the pork is going to be thawed in time now.

The surface of the pork is just starting to get soft in some of the cheaper coolers. But temp is still good, staying right around 33 degrees.
post #9 of 11
I always thaw my turkeys in WATER...
I wouldn't think there is anything wrong with you thawing BUTTS in a LARGE container of water. Even adding ice will still thaw the meat and keep it cold.

If you sanitized it you could use your bath tub and keep the water at a certain TEMP using ice if needed.... WATER is your fastest and is still SAFE if you control the temp!!!!
post #10 of 11
Thawing in Cold Water

Meat can be safely thawed in cold, not hot, water. Be sure to thaw meat in a leak-proof package or bag. Submerge the bag in cold water, changing water every 30 minutes so that is stays cold. It is important to keep the meat out of the food spoilage temperature range of 70° to 100°F.
After defrosting, refrigerate or cook promptly. Unlike meat thawed in the refrigerator, meat thawed by the cold water method should be cooked before re-freezing.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well, after I get done with my 3 hour drive, if they're still pretty solid cold water will have to be used. I'm hoping to get them in the smoker tomorrow night and pull them late morning Saturday then let them rest and pull the pork.
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