You can tell the quality and condition of a pork shoulder using three of your five senses. Meat quality and storage conditions are particularly important to the taste and safety of dishes made from raw pork. The effects of time and neglect of proper handling procedures often render a once-good pork shoulder inedible. Serve only the best quality to your family and guests by using pork shoulder cuts that are high-quality and fresh.
Search for a "sell by date" or "use by date" on the butcher's label from the fresh pork shoulder packaging. Pork is generally safe for consumption three to five days after the "sell by date" and needs to be used or frozen on the "use by date." Packaging malfunctions and damage might make these projected expiration dates inaccurate.
Look at the color of the pork shoulder surfaces. Fresh quality pork shoulder meat has a bright pink or dark red appearance. Dull brown and gray colors are indications of rotting pork. Cut away discolored portions of the pork shoulder to see if the meat below also is rotting.
Smell the surface of the pork shoulder from as close as possible. Bad pork has a smell similar to rotting garbage in a Dumpster. Quality pork shoulder has very little aroma other than the slight smell of blood due to the abundance of darker meat.
Press on the pork shoulder with the fingertips of both hands. Quality pork shoulder is firm and bounces back when pressure is applied. Bad pork shoulder yields easily to pressure and often stays compacted.
Defrost frozen pork shoulder within four months of freezing to keep storage from affecting the taste and texture of the meat.
Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.