As a versatile and popular protein source, chicken is a staple in many households. But when it comes to freshness and safety, there are often questions surrounding how long chicken remains good after its sell-by date.
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We’ll look at a chicken’s shelf life, the variables that affect it, and storage advice in this complete guide. To make sure you can eat your favorite meals with confidence, we’ll also examine the shelf life of other well-known chicken-based foods, like tamales and chicken soup.
Understanding Chicken Sell-By Dates
A sell-by date is a label placed on perishable goods by manufacturers to indicate the last day a product should be sold. It is important to note that this date is not a safety date or an expiration date, but rather a guideline for retailers. As a consumer, understanding sell-by dates can help you make informed decisions about the freshness and safety of your food. However, always use your best judgment, and remember that chicken can still be safe to consume after the sell-by date, depending on how it’s been stored.
How Long is Chicken Good After the Sell-By Date?
The answer to this question depends on various factors, such as the type of chicken (whole, parts, or ground), storage conditions, and temperature. In general, raw chicken can last for one to two days past the sell-by date when stored in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below. If you freeze chicken, its shelf life can be extended to around nine months for whole chicken and six months for chicken parts.
How Long Do Tamales Last in the Fridge
Tamales, a popular dish made from masa dough and filled with ingredients such as chicken, can also have varying shelf lives depending on storage conditions. When properly stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, tamales can last for up to four days. To extend their shelf life, you can freeze tamales for up to six months, ensuring they are well-wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
How Long Does Chicken Soup Last in the Fridge
Chicken soup, a comforting and flavorful dish, typically has a shorter shelf life than raw chicken. When stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, chicken soup can last for three to four days. If you’d like to keep it longer, freezing is an option. Properly stored in an airtight container or freezer bag, chicken soup can be frozen for up to four to six months.
Signs of Spoilage: When to Throw Chicken Away
It’s crucial to keep an eye out for your chicken’s safety and freshness. Typical indications of rotting include:
- a strong, acidic, or ammonia-like smell
- slick appearance
- the bluish-gray or emerald hue
- proliferation of mold
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the chicken immediately, as consuming spoiled chicken can lead to foodborne illness.
Tips for Proper Chicken Storage
Follow this storage advice to amplify the shelf life of your chicken and chicken-based dishes:
- Store raw chicken in the coldest part of your refrigerator, preferably on the bottom shelf to prevent cross-contamination.
- Use a thermometer to check that the temperature in your refrigerator maintains at or below 40°F (4°C).
- Wrap raw chicken in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Transfer cooked chicken dishes, such as tamales and chicken soup, to an airtight container before refrigerating or freezing them.
- Give your chicken and chicken-based dishes labels and expiration dates before storing them so you can easily keep track of when they go bad.
- To reduce the chance of bacterial growth, thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator or in cold water rather than on the countertop.
- To guarantee that chicken is safe for food, cook it until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
Alternative Ways to Extend the Shelf Life of Chicken
Although freezing and appropriate refrigeration are the two most popular ways to preserve chicken, there are more ways to increase its shelf life. These tactics can be quite useful if you’re seeking solutions for longer-term preservation or want to spice up your meal preparation:
- Canning: Cooked chicken may be effectively preserved with pressure canning. In order to eliminate microorganisms and establish a vacuum seal, the cooked chicken is sealed in airtight jars and heated under pressure. If kept in a cold, dark place, canned chicken has a shelf life of up to one to two years.
- Dehydrating: By removing moisture from the cooked chicken, dehydration prevents bacterial growth. You can make dried chicken pieces that can be kept in airtight containers for several months using a food dehydrator or an oven on low heat. You can rehydrate dehydrated chicken to use in recipes or to nibble on.
- Smoking: Smoking chicken adds flavor and helps preserve the meat by reducing its moisture content and introducing antimicrobial properties from the smoke. Cold smoking (smoking at temperatures below 100°F/38°C) is best for preserving chicken, but it must be combined with another preservation method, such as curing or dehydrating. Smoked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for several months.
- Pickling: Cooked chicken is submerged in a vinegar-based solution during the pickling process, creating an acidic environment that prevents bacterial growth. This process not only increases the chicken’s shelf life but also gives the meat a sour flavor. For up to three to four weeks, pickled chicken can be kept in the refrigerator.
By exploring these alternative preservation methods, you can enjoy the versatility of chicken in various forms while extending its shelf life and reducing food waste.
Can I use my senses to determine if the chicken is still good after the sell-by date?
While using your senses to check for signs of spoilage can be helpful, it’s not always a foolproof method. If you’re unsure about the freshness of your chicken, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it to avoid potential foodborne illnesses.
Can I refreeze the chicken that has been thawed in the refrigerator?
Indeed, it is possible to refreeze chicken that was thawed in the fridge, provided it wasn’t exposed to room temperature for over two hours. Nonetheless, be conscious that refreezing may alter the chicken’s quality and texture.
How can I tell if my chicken soup or tamales have gone bad?
Look for signs of spoilage such as a sour or off smell, sliminess, mold growth, or changes in color. If any of these signs are present, discard the dish immediately.
Understanding the shelf life of chicken and related dishes, such as tamales and chicken soup, is crucial for maintaining food safety and quality. While sell-by dates can provide guidance, it’s essential to use your best judgment and follow proper storage practices to ensure the freshness and safety of your food. You may confidently savor your favorite chicken meals while lowering your chance of contracting foodborne illnesses by adhering to the advice and details offered in this complete guide.