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Poultry is the most consumed meat in America and chicken is the most common meat staple found in homes across the country. Whether due to its widely popular taste or because it is as inexpensive as it is ubiquitous, the chicken is bought, cooked, sold, and eaten in vast quantities. From the humble chicken nugget to the more exotic coq au vin chicken satisfies a wide range of palettes. You can get it fried in a bucket or plated as a stroganoff. Kids love them in their fried form and the chicken soup is the staple in grandma’s kitchen.
Besides being so versatile, chicken also has a range of health benefits. It is high in protein and is the most common protein for those looking to eat healthily, lose weight or gain muscle. Chicken is also loaded with minerals and vitamins and is good for lower cholesterol and blood pressure. A bonus is that chicken is so easily and readily available and makes for easy cooking. No wonder everyone wants a piece of this meat.
Many households buy chicken in bulk or in large quantities and choose to freeze it so it can last longer. But can chicken be frozen? Will it go bad? How best to store frozen chicken? If you are one of the thousands of people who buy chicken frequently for themselves, or their families, read on to find more about your favorite poultry.
Does Frozen Chicken Go Bad?
While frozen food is often seen as the ultimate food preserving exercise, it only extends the shelf life of food, it does not make it eternal. Frozen chicken like any other food, can and will eventually go bad. Sure, frozen chicken will last a considerably long time in the freezer, if it has been stored properly, but bear in mind that it is an organic substance that will eventually deteriorate.
Food products that are stored in brine or vinegar have extraordinarily long shelf lives, some never even spoiling, chicken though starts decaying, even when frozen, due to many factors, including storage conditions, quality of the chicken, and exposure to fluctuating temperatures among others. Different cuts of chicken go bad differently and at different times.
Freezing chicken is the best way to store it and extend its shelf life and the chicken you buy from the store comes with an expiry date. But if you freeze the chicken promptly and properly, you can freeze and use it well past its expiry date.
Freezing chicken for a long time might not spoil it but sometimes it might compromise its taste, texture, and quality.
Most often than not your chicken might get freezer burn from being stored improperly in the freezer. This will definitely make your chicken lose its quality and the chicken will end up being tough and chewy. In cases of freezer burn, it is best to thaw and then remove the burnt bits of chicken and discard them before using the rest.
How Long Does Frozen Chicken Last?
- Frozen chicken has a pretty long shelf life.
- Once you freeze and store it properly chicken can last for months up to a year
- A full, uncooked chicken will last in the freezer for 1 year
- If you have cut or chopped the chicken before freezing it, it will last for about 9 to 10 months. This is because once the chicken is cut, it is more susceptible to bacteria and spoilage.
- Cooked chicken on the other hand has a much shorter shelf life and will last in the freezer for about 4 to 6 months.
|Type of Frozen Chicken
|How Long It Will Last in The Freezer
|Full, uncooked chicken
|Cut, sliced, uncooked chicken
|9 – 10 months
|4 – 6 months
The above table is an estimate of how long frozen chicken can be expected to last. A number of factors go into figuring out frozen chicken’s shelf life like its storage conditions, or when it was cooked, how it was cooked, when it was cut, and how it was frozen. The table will give you a general idea of how long your chicken will be good.
Many of the store-bought frozen chicken varieties will come with a best-by or sell-by date. If ever in doubt, just follow the instructions on the package.
The best-by date is just an indicator of how long the frozen chicken will be good and reach peak quality. The date does not tell you when it will spoil, it is just to give you a heads up on when you can expect the quality to start going down.
How Best To Store Frozen Chicken?
Whatever kind of frozen chicken you have on hand needs to be stored with some level of care and precision so that the chicken doesn’t go bad before its time. Although frozen chicken does have a pretty long life, there are a few things to keep in mind when freezing your chicken.
- When you get a fresh, full, uncooked chicken first take it out of its original packaging. Transfer it into an airtight container or Ziplock bag. Use a vacuum pack to seal it if possible. Otherwise, remove all the air from the bag you’re going to store it in manually. Then place the chicken in it to freeze, close tightly, and place in the freezer.
- The primary reason we have to remove all the air before storing the chicken is to avoid freezer burn.
- Chicken with freezer burn can still be eaten, but the chicken might be chewy and tough.
- Chicken can be frozen in the original packaging you got from the store but add another layer of protection to avoid freezer burn. Wrap it in aluminum foil or place it in an airtight container in the freezer.
- This method works for both whole chicken and cut chicken.
- For cooked chicken, make sure you freeze your chicken within two hours of making it so that it will stay fresh longer.
- Store the cooked chicken in an airtight container and place it in the freezer.
- It is recommended that you portion out your chicken before freezing it as then you can thaw only the portion you intend to cook and eat. This will help keep the remainder of the chicken juicy and moist.
- To thaw frozen chicken, the best method is to leave it in the fridge overnight. If it is a big portion of chicken, it will take 24 hours to thaw in the fridge.
- If you need to thaw it quickly you can always microwave it.
How To Tell If Your Frozen Chicken Has Spoiled?
- The first indication of spoilage on frozen chicken will be the smell. If the chicken has gone bad, it will have an extremely rotten smell.
- Healthy chicken will have a pink coloring. If your chicken is gray or discolored, then it has gone bad.
- If the texture of your chicken is very dry and leathery it can be thrown out as it will be unappetizing.