Chicken is loved by many. Children love it fried but generally, most people prefer it roasted or grilled. However, what is most important is how you store your chicken and the best way to do this is to put it in a freezer bag. Frozen chicken does not lose its taste, but the key to keeping frozen chicken fresh is storing them correctly. So, how long does frozen chicken last?
How long your frozen chicken can last will depend on many factors. Generally, cooked chicken can last from 3 – 6 months while raw chicken can last between 6 – 12 months. The first thing to consider is whether the chicken is raw or cooked.
Also, whether the chicken is stored whole, divided into parts, or if it’s ground-up/minced. For best results, the temperatures should remain at 0 degrees Celsius to prevent bacteria from growing. Freezing chicken helps preserve its flavor and texture. It also makes sure that there are no harmful microorganisms present which could cause food poisoning.
When buying chicken make sure that it has been properly thawed before cooking. This means that the meat must have been defrosted completely so that all moisture is removed then cook as normal.
Frozen cooked chicken
Frozen cooked chicken can last up to 6-12 months depending on storage conditions. If kept in an airtight container away from direct sunlight for longer periods, they will keep their quality well. They may be used directly after freezing without any need to thaw out. But, remember that once opened, use within 2 weeks. A whole cooked chicken lasts for 6 months while frozen cooked chicken parts can last up to 4 months. On the other hand, cooked ground/minced chicken lasts for 2 to 3 months
When you freezing cooked chicken, ensure to follow these steps:
1) Keep the chicken frozen.
2) For cooked chicken pieces, keep each piece individually in wax paper or aluminum foil.
3) Label the package clearly indicating what’s inside.
4) Don’t leave packages open too long because this allows oxygen to penetrate the packaging and spoil the product.
5) Once opened, wrap individual servings in plastic wrap and return them to the freezer immediately.
6) When using frozen chicken, always check the expiration date.
7) Thawing frozen chicken takes about 30 minutes per pound. To speed up the process, place the wrapped portions in cold water until fully thawed.
8) After thawing, remove the wrapping carefully and pat dry with clean towels.
9) Heat accordingly.
10) Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator and use them within three days.
Frozen raw chicken
How long raw frozen chicken lasts depends on how best you store it. It should never sit around room temperature for extended periods. This could cause bacteria growth which would make your food unsafe. Also, if there are signs of mold growing on the surface of the chicken, throw it out right away. Moldy foods cannot be eaten safely.
To prevent contamination, do not handle raw chicken with dirty utensils or surfaces. Wash hands thoroughly before handling the chicken. Use a separate cutting board for preparing raw poultry. Always wash knives and other kitchen tools regularly.
If you freeze raw chicken, don’t forget to label the package correctly. Make sure to write down the name of the brand and type of chicken. You might want to include the weight of the portion being prepared.
A whole frozen raw chicken lasts up to a whole year the same as raw chicken parts. However ground raw chicken can last fresh in the freezer for a maximum of 5 to 7 months. Follow these steps for the best results;
1) Thoroughly wash the chicken with cold water. Remove excess fat and rinse thoroughly under running tap water. Pat dry using paper towels.
2) Place the washed chicken pieces in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup salt. Mix until evenly coated. Let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse again under running tap water, drain off extra liquid and repeat the step twice.
3) Transfer the seasoned chicken to a zipper-lock plastic bag. Seal tightly and store them in the freezer.
4) Before cooking, defrost the chicken by placing it in the fridge overnight. Cook according to your recipe directions.
You can cook frozen chicken just like regular uncooked chicken. Just add some seasoning while at it. The taste is similar to freshly cooked chicken but has less moisture content.
5) To reheat: Heat oven to 350° F. Arrange chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 20 – 25 minutes per pound.
6) To grill: Preheat the gas grill over medium heat. Grill chicken 10 – 15 minutes per side. Baste frequently during the grilling process. Serve immediately.
Tips to help you get the most out of your frozen chicken
1. Freeze only what you need. If you have leftover chicken from one meal, put it into smaller containers so that they won’t take up too much space in the freezer.
2. Keep an eye on the expiration dates. Frozen chicken usually expires after 12 months. Check the packaging when buying new packages.
3. Don’t leave any part of the chicken uncovered. Cover all sides completely with foil or wrap each piece individually in aluminum foil.
4. Label everything clearly.
5. Store meat in its original container. Never place the meat directly onto another item such as ice packs or bags.
6. When thawing, use cool air rather than hot air. A refrigerator works well for this purpose.
7. Do not refreeze leftovers. Once thawed, refrigerate within 2 days.
8. Avoid storing raw meats near ready-to-eat items. Raw meats may carry harmful germs that can contaminate other foods.
Frozen chicken is convenient because there are no worries about spoilage. It also saves time since you don’t have to worry about thawing. But if you plan ahead, you can enjoy delicious homemade meals without having to spend hours in the kitchen.
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