Cooking with chicken can sometimes be a hassle. You always end up with too much or not quite enough. If you find yourself dealing with leftover raw chicken, it’s vital to know how to store it correctly to avoid contamination and any chance of disease.
If you’re a meat eater then you’ve surely heard about the risks of handling raw chicken. It has a reputation as a food and safety nightmare since raw and undercooked chicken carries salmonella bacteria which is the cause of more cases of food poisoning than any other food-transmitted pathogen. So if you’re not careful about how you store chicken, it could result in some very unpleasant circumstances.
Perhaps you’re wondering, why all the hype around chicken. We cook beef rare and that’s perfectly safe to eat, and of course, sushi is a worldwide craze. It all depends on how the animals are bred and the environments they are processed in. With chickens, a farm animal that is generally bred in large numbers, the possibility of harbouring salmonella bacteria in their digestive system becomes very high. Also, the flesh of the chicken is very porous. Just think about how easily you can pull out a feather, now imagine how easy it is for bacteria to infect the lower layers of their skin.
But don’t worry, it’s not an impossible task to stay protected. Just start following these basic habits when it comes to handling and storing chicken and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
If you don’t plan to use your chicken that day itself, it should go straight into the freezer when you get home. If you are using it that day it can be placed – wrapped and in a plate – in the fridge until needed.
Never Thaw At Room Temperature
Never leave your chicken on the counter to thaw as it promotes bacterial growth, and definitely do not defrost it in the microwave as that has even higher temperatures which will accelerate bacteria. Always thaw it in the fridge, it takes some time, but it’s safer.
Always Wash Your Hands After Handling
Cross contamination is a big issue with raw chicken. Try to keep your chicken preparation tools separate from the rest and as soon as you’re done, give everything a thorough wash before using those knives or boards for anything else.
Never Refreeze Thawed Chicken
It’s tempting to refreeze extra chicken you have if there’s an excess, but that is one of the worst things you could do. Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria, it just suspends growth temporarily. So try to cook it all in one sitting, or else, wrap the extra chicken in plastic wrap and an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. Use in under 48 hours.