If you are wondering how long does raw chicken last in the fridge or freeze, the answer is that uncooked poultry lasts 48 hours. 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 ensuring 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 are packaged.
Look for the words never frozen on the package. If your chicken does not say that, then it may have been frozen multiple times. This dilutes the taste of the chicken and lowers the time that the chicken can be kept in your freezer or refrigerator.
Try to find organic chicken. These farms must undergo USDA inspections and prove that their birds are never fed GMO products. Since the cost of feeding these birds is higher, you will pay a markup at the store.
Look for pasture-raised chicken. These chickens are raised in a pasture where they are not subjected to chronic stress. Experiencing chronic stress, even in free-range chickens, causes the meat to be tougher.
How to Store Chicken in Refrigerator to Keep It Fresh
Improperly storing raw chicken in your refrigerator can easily lead to cross-contamination. Raw chicken should always be stored in its original package on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Ensure that it never comes in cooked meat. [How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out?]
Check the temperature of your refrigerator regularly. Trusting the thermometer that is in the fridge can be deadly to you and your family, so always use a thermometer that is 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 are going to be marinating your raw chicken, then 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.
You need to 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 9 degrees. Use a special thermostat designed for this purpose. The freezer door is the best place to check as it is usually the warmest place in your freezer.
While many people pop the meat packaging that 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.
If possible, you should place the bags on a cookie sheet and freeze them flat. Once frozen, if space is a problem, then 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 you freeze it allows you to take out the amount that you need. If you have enormous chicken breasts that you will never eat in one sitting, cut 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 48 hours for large pieces or whole chicken to thaw in the refrigerator while smaller pieces will thaw in 24 hours or less. You can leave the chicken in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours after it is thawed without adversely affecting it.
The second method that you can use is to thaw the chicken in a bowl of water. Make sure that the chicken is submerged. You can leave it in the plastic bag. Change out 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 is thawed. Repositioning the chicken on a microwave-safe tray can help prevent cooking. Once the chicken is thawed, then you should cook it right away to prevent bacteria from building up and making you sick when you eat the poultry.
The answer to how long does raw chicken last in the fridge or freeze depends on having your refrigerator and freezer set to the right temperature. The chicken will last for 48 hours when put in the refrigerator that is set to 40 degrees and in a freezer that is set for 0 degrees for 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.