There’s a good chance you’ve taken a trip to the supermarket the last few days and stocked up on plenty of frozen foods. Many people believe frozen foods simply last forever, this is actually quite the misconception. As it turns out, Foodsafety.gov actually provides guidelines for how long several foods are meant to be kept in the freezer and chicken is one such food that does a shelf life. Yes, even in the freezer.
So how long will all the chicken you bought actually last before it goes bad?
We spoke with head chef of Hello Fresh, Claudia Sidoti, and concept executive chef at Morton’s The Steakhouse New York, Trevor White, to get their insight on exactly how long chicken can last in the freezer before you decide to cook it. And for when that time comes around, make sure you check out 20 Mistakes You’re Making When Cooking Chicken! But now, back to the frozen birds you probably have sitting in your freezer…
How long does chicken last in the freezer?
“Chicken can be stored in the freezer safely for up to a year,” says Sidoti. “Chicken cutlets or pieces of chicken can usually last up to about nine months.” So if the chicken has been cut in any shape or form, that automatically reduces its longevity in the freezer by three months.
Do you have to package chicken a specific way to prevent freezer burn?
“The best method would be to vacuum-seal, as this removes air from the packaging and seals the bag,” says Sidoti. “If you don’t have the right equipment for this method, you can also place the chicken breasts in freezer bags and manually push out as much air as possible before zipping them shut.”
Don’t trust your hands? Chef White offers another method for you to try.
“For best results, all the air must be pushed out prior to sealing, either by hand or by the water displacement method,” says White. “The water displacement method requires you to place the chicken into the freezer bag and submerge the bag up to right below the seal, removing all air, then sealing the bag.”
However, he also agrees with Sidoti and says that vacuum-sealing the chicken is your best bet at preventing freezer burn. So why exactly does freezer burn happen? Sidoti explains that it’s the process that occurs when the chicken is exposed to air, undergoing dehydration. Foods that have experienced freezer burn are safe to eat, but they likely won’t taste as good.
“Freezer bags would be another method of storing chicken in the freezer,” White adds. “Chicken also can be frozen in the original package from the grocery store. I suggest you add another layer of protection by wrapping the package in aluminum foil.”
What’s something else to never forget when you’re freezing chicken?
“Always record the ‘frozen on’ date on your packaging with a marker so you can keep track of how long it’s been in the freezer,” advises Sidoti. “Frozen chicken lasts a long time, but it won’t be as optimal in taste if left in [the freezer] for too long.”
Got all of that down? Great. Now the question is, How Do You Defrost All That Chicken Safely So You Don’t Get Sick? We’ve got you covered.