Usually, perishable food items such as raw chicken shouldn’t be left out of the fridge for more than two hours or one hour if the room temperature is warmer. This is because raw food items such as chicken, beef, etc., are quick to get contaminated by bacteria, making them unfit for consumption.
How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out?
Harmful bacteria often contaminate raw chicken that sits at room temperature for more than two hours. Raw chicken is only preserved when it is refrigerated at 40° Fahrenheit or below. As such, you shouldn’t consume raw chicken that has stayed at room temperature for more than two hours for health purposes. Here are some of the things to consider when making your raw chicken sit out.
It is important to note that your room temperature shouldn’t be higher than 72° Fahrenheit. If it is, your raw chicken can only sit out for one hour. Warmer temperatures make perishable food items prone to food poisoning.
This is because dangerous bacteria multiply rapidly in room temperatures of 40° to 140° Fahrenheit. Therefore, the temperature of the environment affects the safety of your raw foods.
For instance, your risk of contracting foodborne diseases is higher in a warmer region than in a colder area. Salmonella is prevalent in hotter regions. If you’re not planning to cook the chicken immediately, you should refrigerate it rather than leaving it on your chicken counter.
Another factor that determines the safety of your raw chicken is exposure. Within the two-hour safe period for putting it at room temperature, ensure you cover your raw chicken with a lid or plastic wrap to prevent it from getting contaminated by the air in the environment.
In addition, you shouldn’t leave your raw chicken in a dirty environment as it accelerates the growth of bacteria. Ensure you properly clean your kitchen before placing the chicken anywhere in it.
The quality of the chicken
You have to consider how healthy the raw chicken is before you put it at room temperature. For instance, a fresh raw chicken will stay longer at room temperature than a chicken that has almost become stale.
If you find that your chicken is bad even though you only left it out for two hours, that means the chicken was rotten at the point of purchase. To avoid buying rotten chicken, check for signs of spoilage before you take it out of the store.
How To Preserve Your Raw Chicken
Leaving your raw chicken at room temperature is only appropriate when you want to cook it immediately. If you’re looking at cooking it later, you should find other ways to preserve it.
One of the best ways to preserve your raw chicken is to freeze it. Bacteria can’t grow on a frozen chicken; as such, the risks of contamination are reduced. Ensure your chicken is sealed before placing it in the freezer.
Sealing prevents contaminated air from reaching your food while locking in its moisture. The seal should be tight, long-lasting, and moisture-proof. Air shouldn’t be able to penetrate the seal, as it will cause spoilage.
If you’re not using store-bought raw chicken, ensure you remove the bones from the chicken you’re preparing. Otherwise, the bones may tear the seal and allow the penetration of air. Place the sealed chicken in the coldest part of the freezer. You can freeze your chicken for three to twelve months.
You can also preserve your chicken by canning. Remove the fat from the chicken and cut it into suitable sizes for the cans. You can boil your chicken first before you can use it, or you can use it raw.
If you’re boiling, the chicken should be two-thirds done. Fill your jar with the cooked chicken pieces and hot stock; ensure you leave some headspace. For raw chicken, put no liquid in the jar. Remember that chickens with bones have longer canning time. Use a pressure can to process the canned chicken for about 2 hours.
Dehydration is the process of removing moisture content from food. This makes it difficult for bacteria to grow on foods, thereby making the food last longer. Dehydration is often done for perishable food items.
However, you’ve to pre-cook your raw chicken before dehydrating it. If you don’t, the chicken’s temperature will still be favorable to the growth of bacteria, which hastens spoilage. You can use an electric dehydrator or oven to dehydrate your chicken. Only stop the process when your chicken pieces are completely dry. After, keep the dehydrated pieces in an airtight bag.
5 Ways To Handle Raw Chicken
Raw chicken is prone to harboring bacteria such as salmonella, etc. Therefore, you have to be careful when handling raw chicken. Below is a guide to help you.
Keep other foods away from your raw chicken
When working with raw chicken, you should keep it from touching other foods, especially if your kitchen isn’t big enough. Don’t use any kitchen tool you use for handling your raw chicken for other foods without washing them first.
Such kitchen tools are knives, chopping boards, plates, brushes, etc. For instance, cutting onions with the unwashed knife you used to cut raw chicken will contaminate the onions. If you’re putting the raw chicken in the fridge, ensure it is tightly sealed to keep the juices dripping onto other foods.
Don’t wash your raw chicken
Washing your raw chicken aids the spread of bacteria to other parts of your kitchen, rather than getting rid of it. You don’t need to rinse your chicken in any way before cooking. If you want to remove anything from it, simply clean it with kitchen paper.
Wash your hands
It would help if you didn’t forget to wash your hands after handling raw chicken. You’ll contaminate any food or surface you touch with unwashed hands. When handling the chicken, ensure all you need is by your side so that you don’t have to touch any surface in the process. You can also handle the chicken with one hand and keep the other hand free to do the things you want.
Don’t make raw chicken sit out for long
Don’t make the mistake of forgetting your raw chicken on the counter. At room temperature, it can stay for more than two hours. Staying for longer will make it breed pathogens. To make your raw chicken last longer, keep it in the fridge.
If you buy frozen chicken from the store, ensure you thaw it properly before cooking. Put your chicken in the freezer and leave it for two days to allow proper defrosting. Also, you can use a thermometer to check the doneness of your chicken when cooking.
5 Ways To Tell If Your Raw Chicken Is Spoilt
Either you’re leaving your chicken at room temperature, cooking it immediately, or refrigerating it, you must check the quality of the chicken you buy. If there are issues with the chicken in the first place, it won’t turn out well no matter what you do with it.
If a raw chicken has a foul smell, that means it is rotten. Usually, raw chicken isn’t totally odorless, but the scent is mild. However, you shouldn’t rely on smell alone if you can’t easily perceive the slightest change in smell. You should consider other factors.
Fresh, raw chicken should be soft, slippery, and firm to touch. If the chicken has a slimy texture or weird growths such as molds, the chicken is unhealthy. Even if you watch off the slime or cut off the growths, the chicken is already contaminated. Eating it will expose you to sickness.
The expiry date of the chicken is essential as well. Check the date on the package before you buy the chicken from the store. The “use by” date is the day that marks the end of the chicken’s shelf life. Don’t choose a chicken that will expire before you cook it. If you’re not cooking it immediately, choose one with an expiry date that allows for such a period.
Typically, a raw chicken in good condition has a light pink color. Any other color than pink indicates that the chicken has spoilt and should be thrown away. However, not all color changes mean spoilage. For instance, the light pink color can slightly fade, signifying that the chicken has been exposed to air. It’s normal for your chicken’s color to change if you refrigerate it.
To determine the quality of the raw chicken, you need to know for how long it has been stored. One way to do this is to find the sell by date on the package. The “sell by” date signifies when the chicken should no longer be sold. If you’re buying from a local farmer, you can also ask when and how the chicken was stored. The chicken goes bad once the standard storage period elapses.
It’s unhygienic to make your raw chicken stay at room temperature longer than two hours, as it starts to breed bacteria. Even if you cook it, you’d likely be ingesting diseases because heat doesn’t kill bacteria. Only take out raw chicken you want to cook immediately out of the fridge. Also, ensure you check the quality of the chicken before cooking or storing it.