Freezing works wonders in storing any ingredient- be it vegetarian or meat. It makes it easier for people to take a single trip to the supermarket and store the groceries for the rest of the week.
As far as chicken is concerned, storing raw chicken in the freezer can help you use it for a long period. However, it will expire someday. But when?
Generally, frozen chicken, when stored properly, can last for up to 1 year. But to draw such benefits, you must learn proper storage techniques and methods. Sweat not, as the following article contains the necessary information required to preserve frozen chicken for a long period.
What is the Shelf Life of Frozen Chicken?
According to the USDA, frozen poultry products like chicken tend to last up to one year in the freezer.
However, you must freeze the chicken as recommended after bringing it home from the supermarket. It needs proper freezing for its long life and sustained quality.
But, the shelf life of the poultry pieces like chicken thighs, breasts, and wings is less than the whole frozen chicken. They have a shelf life of nine months only. The giblets have a shelf life of only three to four months.
Besides, the storage conditions also influence the shelf life of the frozen chicken. So, follow the proper storage techniques by FDA to make your frozen chicken last longer and maintain its quality.
What are the Spoilage Signs of Frozen Chicken?
There are many surefire ways to identify when your frozen chicken has gone off. Despite keeping the frozen chicken well wrapped in a freezer, they are not immune to expiry. So, you must keep an eye on these red flags and if you notice any of these signs, discard them immediately.
Changes in Color
The fresh frozen chicken has a bright pink color. But, when it goes off, the color changes, and it turns a bit gray. Besides, the white color of the fat starts changing as it goes rancid.
The rancid frozen chicken tends to have yellowish patches on the fat and a light gray tone throughout. If you notice these color changes, it is no longer edible and safe for consumption.
Like all other food items, smelling the frozen chicken before using it is a surefire way to identify if it has gone bad. It won’t be a good experience to smell the chicken after expiry, but it is the best way to determine whether to discard or use the chicken.
After expiry, the frozen chicken radiates a pungent smell that resembles the smell of rotten eggs. If you experience this potent smell, it is time to throw it away.
Chicken Gets Slimy
If you notice a slimy layer on it after thawing, it means the chicken has gone off. When thawed in the refrigerator, the frozen chicken will always have a moist surface, whereas the rancid frozen chicken will have a slimy layer.
If this is the case with your frozen chicken, you must discard it.
Check the Expiry Date
Undoubtedly, many chicken lovers prefer pushing their frozen chicken past the expiry date. They end up with a stomachache after consuming the frozen chicken that has expired. So, to avoid experiencing such situations, you must always keep your eyes out for the above red flags before consuming the frozen chicken after expiry.
What are the Risks of Consuming Frozen Chicken After Expiry?
Storing frozen chicken continuously at zero degrees will ensure good quality and be considered safe for consumption, provided that the package is not damaged and proper storage protocols are followed.
Frozen Chicken will be safe for an indefinite time. But, they come with an expiry date which must be checked before consuming. Plus, don’t forget to watch the spoilage signs before cooking the frozen chicken.
Eating frozen chicken within use-by date won’t make you sick. It is safe because the freezing process delays bacterial growth. However, the process won’t destroy the bacteria but put them into a state of stasis.
The frozen chicken package comprises the best-by date. It is important to check it before using and ensure the spoilage signs to avoid stomach cramping, stomachaches, and other digestive issues.
Can You Freeze Frozen Chicken? Refrigerated Vs. Shelf Stable
Frozen chicken keeps its quality for a long time when it is continuously frozen at a stable temperature. After bringing home the frozen chicken from the supermarket, you need to freeze it immediately.
You may either use the required portion from the whole frozen chicken or freeze it for later use. But without freezing, the frozen chicken will go off faster, and it is not a good choice to leave the frozen chicken at room temperature unless you’ll need it for immediate cooking.
But, there are certain criteria that you have to follow when freezing the frozen chicken.
- Before freezing, you have to transfer the frozen chicken into an airtight container to prevent it from freezer burns and going off quickly.
- According to USDA, you must rewrap the pre-packed frozen chicken before freezing because the plastic package makes the frozen chicken vulnerable to freezer burns.
- If you want to store your frozen chicken for more than two months, wrap it in tinfoil or freezer paper to sustain its quality for a long duration.
As you refrigerate the frozen chicken, it starts melting because the temperature it needs to keep the chicken frozen is compromised when put in the fridge. So, refrigeration is only suggested for frozen chicken when thawing is needed.
Storing frozen chicken in a fridge will only delay the bacterial growth, but it can’t help maintain its quality longer than a freezer.
Putting the frozen chicken in the fridge is not recommended, and it will only last for 24-48 hours. So, you should only keep the frozen chicken in the fridge when you intend to consume it within 48 hours. Frozen chicken must not be kept in the refrigerator as the freezing point needed to keep it frozen can’t be achieved in a refrigerator.
Frozen chicken is not a shelf-stable product, and hence it can’t be kept or stored in your kitchen cabinet or pantry. The frozen chicken won’t last more than six to seven hours when kept at room temperature.
It will start melting once it comes in contact with the air, and after it is thawed completely, it starts degrading. So, you can’t keep the frozen chicken at room temperature as it needs a freezer consistently to keep its quality.
What are the Ways to Store Frozen Chicken?
Buying frozen chicken in bulk can help you save your money, but you must ensure that it lasts longer. So, here are a few helpful tips for storing your frozen chicken to make it last longer and edible.
Since frozen chicken needs continuous freezing to keep its quality for an indefinite time, there are certain storage tips that you must keep in mind before putting it in a freezer.
Overwrap the Original Package
As mentioned earlier, USDA urges to rewrap or overwrap the original plastic package for prolonged storage, and aluminum foil makes the best choice.
You have to transfer the frozen chicken from the original plastic package to a freezer bag and squeeze the excess air out from the bag before sealing it. The unopened and properly vacuumed sealed package of frozen chicken is okay to be stored in the original package.
Avoid Freezer Burns
If you want to freeze the chicken for a long time after its best-by date, then transfer the frozen chicken into an airtight container before freezing. It will help prevent the chicken from freezer burns.
You may also use cling film, freezer wrap, or a freezer bag to store the frozen chicken. It helps prevent the chilled air from drying out and causing freezer burns.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Shelf Life of Frozen Chicken in Freezer?
According to the USDA, uncooked frozen chicken is safe for consumption for up to one year, and if you store chopped chicken, you have to consume it within nine months. However, you can’t freeze the cooked chicken as it has a shorter shelf life of only six months. But, you have to store it carefully in a freezer using freezer-friendly bags.
What is the Shelf Life of Frozen Chicken in Refrigerator?
Storing frozen chicken in the refrigerator is not recommended as it has a shorter lifespan of one to two days. Refrigeration only delays the growth of bacteria and never keeps its quality for more than 48 hours. However, you can store the cooked chicken in the fridge for up to four days.
Do You Need to Thaw Frozen Chicken Before Cooking?
It is fine to cook the frozen chicken without thawing it in an oven. But it will take 50% more time to cook properly. So, it is suggested that you first thaw the chicken and then cook to reduce the cooking time. It will also help you have a juicy and tender piece of chicken.
The Bottom Line
Being able to know when your frozen chicken has gone off will keep you and your family safe. And hopefully, you are now equipped with all the necessary information regarding its shelf life, storage methods, and spoilage signs.
Now, when you bring home a large quantity of frozen chicken, use these tips to ensure you are keeping it good for a long time and use it without hassles.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Michael A. Antoine is a Sr. Chef at one of the leading chains of restaurants in the USA. He might raise hell in his kitchen, but his deep and practical knowledge about food and recipes helps us give you the best and tastiest recipes.