Freezing any kind of meat or perishable produce can be tricky – and it can be confusing to know how exactly things can last once they have been frozen.
This is especially true with things like chicken, which are known to be breeding grounds for salmonella and other forms of bacteria – all of which can cause sickness if not handled in the right way. But this begs the question: how long can chicken be stored, and what are the best things to avoid?
Is Two Year Old Chicken Okay To Eat?
This is a question that we get asked a lot, and really represents just how confused people can get when it comes to frozen chicken, and exactly how long it can be stored for. The fact of the matter is that the answer to this question is not straight forward, and it comes with a few ‘ands’ and ‘buts’.
Truthfully speaking, if you have had frozen chicken in your freezer for two years, then under the best scenario, you can potentially still consume it. However, this depends on a few things.
This is a big one. If you have stored frozen chicken in the freezer for two years, then you should only really attempt this if you know that your freezer has maintained a constant, low temperature for the entire freezing period.
As we all know, freezers and fridges can short out, warm up, and suffer all manner of electrical problems – especially when we have power cuts or electrical faults. As such, these periods can cause freezers to warm, and food to turn bad.
This is what makes frozen chicken such a funny item to categorise as good or bad, as it really depends on how they were kept. Generally speaking, freezers should be around -18 degrees celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit), and if they have raised in temperature, then you should not eat the chicken stored inside.
Some meat products can have surprisingly long sell-by dates, but this is seldom as long as two years. These dates are there for a reason, and while freezing the item can extend the shelf life for a while, it still has a shelf life to contend with.
What’s more, even while frozen, food can still lose flavour, suitability, and goodness, and with any form of meat, two years is a long time to store it with a view to eating.
So, What Is The Verdict?
While you could potentially get away with it under the right circumstances, it really does not seem to be worth the risk. This is why we would advise disposing of the frozen chicken instead of eating it, as the potential side effects (such as illness) really outweigh any rewards it would bring.
This is just good common sense, and you would more than likely enjoy a new, fresh piece of chicken anyway.
How Long Can Chicken Be Frozen?
But this begs the question: how long can chicken be frozen for? Once again, this is less of a specific answer, and more a context dependent one. Generally speaking, in a good quality, working freezer that can maintain its temperature, chicken can be frozen and stored for approximately nine months.
Within this time, most meat will still be within its shelf life, and will have maintained all the flavour, smells, and textures that you would want from your piece of meat.
Any longer and things can get hairy, with the potential for bad tasting food and food poisoning becoming more and more likely with each passing month.
What To Consider When Freezing Chicken?
Of course, when it comes to freezing chicken, there are also certain things you need to take into account.
Firstly, you should only attempt to freeze your chicken for any length of time if you have a good quality, working, reliable freezer.
This has been a key theme within this article, but it is really important to ensure that the chicken remains below that -18 degrees C limit – as sudden rises in temperature can cause bacteria to form.
You also need to make sure that the chicken is packaged properly before you put it in the freezer.
This means that ensuring any sealed packets are indeed sealed, and ensuring that, if you have removed it from its original packaging, that you have then secured it inside a sealed freezer bag, or inside a container that will protect it from bacteria and other food.
Chicken is really a funny meat to work with, and due to the bacteria in the juices of the meat, you do not want to risk contaminating the other food in your freezer should something go wrong. It is even worth double bagging your chicken portions just to ensure nothing bad happens.
As touched on above, cross contamination is something that should be avoided in all kitchen environments, and this can relate to numerous things.
Firstly, you should ensure that cooked and raw chicken are not packaged together, as this can cause contamination with bacteria – which in turn could lead to potential sickness upon eating.
You also need to make sure that they are sealed safely, and that no other foodstuffs, crumbs, debris, or contaminants can get access to the chicken once it has been stored in the freezer.
What Is The Right Way To Store It?
Generally speaking, there are a few things you should consider when storing your chicken in the freezer.
First, you should ensure that you have a separate drawer in the freezer for meat products. This is a good way of limiting any contamination that could happen if the power goes out, or if there is a leak in your freezer bags.
Each individual variety of meat should also be separated, and cooked and raw meat should not come into contact with one another.
As touched on previously, you also need to ensure that the chicken is properly bagged and sealed. This could be with freezer bags, sandwich tubs, or any other airtight container that can protect the chicken from contaminants and food debris.
Observe Shelf Life
You also need to take note of sell-by dates, and to not exceed the nine month period – as this is the best way to ensure good tasting food, and the avoidance of bacteria.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about freezing chicken, and exactly how long it can be stored once it has been frozen. It’s true that freezing any kind of meat can be a minefield, and it can be tricky to know how long things can last once they have been stored in the freezer.
However, with most kinds of meat and produce, it really pays to be up to date on the facts – especially if you want to avoid any nasty illnesses as a result. So if you are looking to freeze some chicken, then be sure to follow this handy guide!