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A perfectly cooked pork dish starts at the grocery store. Learn how to navigate the store aisles to find the ideal piece of pork for your next meal.
Before You Shop
Before purchasing pork, take a moment to consider your needs. Ask yourself a couple of quick questions:
How many people are you planning to feed? The average serving size for pork is 3 ounces of cooked meat. Start with 4 ounces of boneless, raw pork to yield 3 ounces of cooked pork. A 3-ounce serving is about the size of a deck of cards.
What is the eating occasion? If time is limited for a weeknight meal, select smaller quick-cooking cuts such as pork chops, cutlets, cubes or strips. If you're entertaining for a holiday meal and have several other dishes to prepare, consider choosing larger, slow-cooking cuts such as roasts that cook several hours and require little attention.
Reading the Meat Label
Here’s a quick overview of what’s on the label:
Type of Meat:
Listed first on every label, this indicates whether the cut is pork, beef, lamb or veal.
Primal or Wholesale Cut:
Specifies which section of the animal the meat comes from. It is a good indicator of the relative tenderness of the cut and can help the shopper decide which method of cookery to use when preparing the cut. This part of the label may read shoulder, loin, leg, etc.
Gives the shopper the specific name of the smaller cut taken from the primal cut. This part of the label may read blade roast, rib chop, sirloin roast, etc.
Get the most for your money, calculate the cost per serving. Some boneless cuts may seem more expensive, but actually are a better buy because you are not paying for the bone. Cost per serving = Cost per pound / number of servings per pound.
Selecting Quality Pork
Follow this do and don't list to pick out the highest quality pork every time you go to the store:
Do pick pork that is a pinkish-red color for a better eating experience.
Do not choose meat that is pale in color and has liquid in the package
Do select pork that has marbling, or small flecks of fat. Marbling is what adds flavor.
Do not choose any meat that has dark colored bone.
Do pick pork that has white fat.
Do not pick pork with dark fat spots.
Questions about buying Pork?
How do I pick out quality pork at the store?
Purchase pork that is a pinkish-red color, has marbling and has white fat.
What should I avoid when buying pork at the store?
Do not choose meat that is pale in color and has liquid in the package. Do not choose any meat that has a dark colored bone or pork with dark fat spots.
What is marbling?
Marbling is small flecks of fat found in the meat that gives it added flavor.
How do I calculate cost per serving, especially with bone-in cuts?
Some boneless cuts may seem more expensive, but actually are a better buy because you are not paying for the bone. Cost per serving = Cost per pound / number of servings per pound.
Buying information is sourced from
The National Pork Board
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