Are you wondering how long raw chicken lasts in the fridge or freezer? The answer is that uncooked poultry lasts up to 48 hours if placed in the refrigerator. If you want to keep it longer, then freeze it. You can safely keep chicken pieces in the freezer for nine months and a whole chicken in the freezer for 12 months.
How to Get the Freshest Chicken
One key to being able to keep chicken longer is to make sure that you are buying fresh chicken. While this chicken often comes from small farmers who are butchering right before selling it to you, if you need to buy your chicken at a grocery store, then there are some tips to ensure your chicken is fresh when you buy it.
In review, remember to look for air-chilled chicken. These choices are hung in a climate-controlled environment until they go into packaging.
Look for the words “never frozen” on the package. If the food packaging information does not mention this, it indicates that the chicken may have been frozen at least once. It dilutes the taste of the chicken and reduces the time you can keep the chicken in your freezer or refrigerator.
Try to find organic chicken. These farms must undergo USDA inspections. Plus, prove that their bird never had GMO products in their diet. Since the cost of feeding these birds is higher, you will pay a markup at the store.
Look for pasture-raised chicken. These chickens grew up in a pasture where they are free from chronic stress.
Experiencing chronic stress, even in free-range chickens, causes the meat to be tough.
How to Store Chicken in Refrigerator to Keep It Fresh
Improperly storing raw chicken in your refrigerator can easily lead to cross-contamination. You should keep the raw chicken in its original package on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Ensure that it never comes into contact with cooked meat. [How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out?]
Check the temperature of your refrigerator regularly. Relying solely on the built-in thermometer may not provide the most accurate reading. So always use a thermometer made for liquids. Place a glass of water in your refrigerator and leave it there for 24 hours.
Then, insert the thermometer into the glass and find the temperature of the water. It should be at or below 40 degrees. Between 40 and 60 degrees is a danger zone where bacteria multiply faster.
If you plan to marinate your raw chicken, do it in a food-safe bowl that you can cover completely. Never use a metal bowl. Put the chicken in a single layer in the dish. Place the container in the refrigerator following your recipe’s instructions.
Then, discard the marinade that you use in the refrigerator. In a pinch, if you must reuse the same marinade while cooking, bring it to a boil first to kill any bacteria that has formed.
How to Store Raw Chicken in the Freezer
You should always check your freezer’s temperature before freezing chicken. You want the freezer to be no more than nine degrees. Use a special thermostat designed for this purpose. The freezer door is the best place to check as it is usually the warmest spot in your freezer.
While many people pop the meat packaging they brought home from the grocery store into the freezer, that is not the best procedure. Instead, wrap it in wax paper. Then, put it in a freezer bag. Be sure to press out any air so that your raw chicken does not get freezer burn.
Place the bags on a cookie sheet and freeze them flat if possible. Once frozen, if space is a problem, you can remove the cookie sheet and stuff the chicken pieces around your freezer.
See how she wraps the chicken in wax paper before she puts it in the freezer bag. Wrapping pieces in wax paper before freezing allows you to take out the needed amount. If you have enormous cuts of chicken, you will never eat them in one sitting; slice them in half before freezing them.
After you have frozen your chicken, it is essential to thaw your chicken properly to avoid deadly bacteria. You have three different choices when thawing frozen chicken.
You can put the chicken in the refrigerator to thaw. Expect it to take 24 hours for small pieces and up to 48 hours for large parts or a whole chicken. Once thawed, leave the chicken in the refrigerator for another 48 hours without adversely affecting it.
The second method is to thaw the chicken in a bowl with water. Make sure that the chicken is submerged. You can leave it in a plastic bag. Change the water every 20 minutes until the chicken is no longer frozen. If you have not followed the recommendations to freeze individual pieces separately, then break pieces apart as soon as possible.
You can also thaw chicken in the microwave. But the outside may start to cook before the inside thaws. Repositioning the chicken on a microwave-safe tray can help prevent cooking. Once the chicken is thawed, cook it immediately to prevent bacteria from building up and making you sick when you eat the poultry.
How To Determine If The Chicken Has Gone Bad?
Let’s say you left the chicken in the fridge for days or weeks. Is it still conducive to eating? Or should you throw it out for safety purposes? To tell if it’s ready to go in the trash, here are some signs to know:
- Check the best-before tag or the expiration date on the packaging. Better to dispose of it to avoid stomach upset if it’s already past the mark.
- A combination of gray-green colors is a clear sign the meat has gone stale. But if you see grey and green spots, it may indicate that the bacteria started to develop.
- Chicken that has gone bad often emits an acidic odor similar to ammonia. But if you marinated it prior, it is harder to tell. So we recommend always adding a date label to the packaging to avoid confusion.
- A sticky and slimy texture means the chicken is past its prime. And if you thought of rinsing it away, don’t bother, as it will only promote cross-contamination.
Consequences of Eating Spoiled Chicken
The most common consequence of eating spoiled chicken is food poisoning. Common bacteria you can find in it are Salmonella, Campylobacter, and many more. Although most bacteria are killed during cooking, you may not eliminate all toxins that they produced while the food was spoiled.
Some of the symptoms to watch out for when you acquire food-borne illness are:
- High-grade fever
- Diarrhea with bloody stool
If you present with any of the signs, immediately seek professional help. Food poisoning is a grave condition that can lead to mortality. So ensure that you store foods properly and discard those that have gone bad. Never risk cooking it and compromising your life.
The duration that raw chicken lasts in the fridge or freezer depends on maintaining the correct temperatures. Raw chicken will last for 48 hours in a refrigerator set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and in a freezer set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, it can last between nine and 12 months.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.