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I purchased a rock-hard, six-pound pork shoulder at the farmers' market on Sunday and have been thawing it in the fridge since then. As of this afternoon, it's still not completely thawed, and I'm starting to wonder if the thawed outer layer of the shoulder might go bad before its inner layer thaws. How long can I continue to safely thaw it?

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Unless your fridge is above 40 F (4 C), it won't go bad. I've had large frozen turkeys take 4 days to thaw before. Just use it once it is fully thawed, don't let it sit around thawed for several more days.

There's no food that I'm aware of that goes bad in the time it takes to thaw it. The stilltasty link below shows 3-5 days for refrigerated meat, and 4-6 months for frozen. Transitioning from frozen to thawed though, I generally count on defrost time + 2-3 days.

If you want to thaw it faster you can always use the cold water method. Simply place it in a sink full of cold water (submerged) and change the water every 30 minutes. The rule of thumb for turkey is 30 minutes of thaw time per pound. I imagine pork shoulder would be similar, maybe a little longer?

Additional Info:

http://stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/18060

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I'm sure it will go bad eventually... –  Adam Shiemke Aug 11 '10 at 20:51
    
I'm sure the sun will expand engulfing our planet in fiery doom and thus ruin both the pork shoulder and his refrigerator. :P It should be obvious that I'm not claiming that it will never go bad. –  hobodave Aug 11 '10 at 20:53
    
Didn't you learn that if your fridge is lead lined it can survive anything? It will just ride the shockwave out of danger :) Seriously though, as an alternate to changing the water, you can just set up a bowl with the roast in the sink with a weight on top of it and let the water run until it fills and trickles over the side. Wastes slightly more water, but doesn't require constant thrity minute checks either. –  sarge_smith Aug 11 '10 at 21:39
    
@sarge: I use the running water method for rapid defrosting, but usually save it for smaller things. Even at a trickle it's likely using 10x as much water (let your faucet trickle for 30 minutes and see how much water comes out). –  hobodave Aug 11 '10 at 21:44
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@Tore: Water isn't free here. You're paying for it either directly or through taxes. –  hobodave Aug 12 '10 at 15:20

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