Acorn Poultry Farm, Chicken Suppliers to the Eastern Cape and Port Elizabeth
 

CONSUMER ADVICE

Handling Chicken Products

Handling Chicken Products

Just like meat, fish or any animal-based food product, raw or undercooked chicken carry certain bacteria. These bacteria can cause illness in large numbers. Therefore, to avoid illness we need to limit bacteria's ability to multiply, or kill them altogether.

Limiting their ability to multiply requires making sure that food products are not left at room temperatures — or specifically, temperatures between 4°C and 60°C (40°F and 140°F) — for more than an hour. And remember, freezing doesn't kill bacteria, either — it just makes them cold. The only way to kill food-borne pathogens is by thoroughly cooking the food.

Another concern with respect to working with uncooked poultry is cross-contamination. Cross-contamination can happen when raw poultry — or even just its juices — somehow come into contact with any other food products but especially ones that are already cooked or ones that will be eaten raw, such as salad vegetables or greens.

An example of how this can happen is if a cook were to cut raw chicken on a cutting board and then later slice fresh tomatoes on the same board without washing it first.

Freezing Chicken Products

Handling Chicken Products

As soon as you get home, put your chicken straight into the fridge or freezer; never leave it on the countertop at room temperature.

Packaged, fresh chicken should be refrigerated in its original wrapping in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Two days storage time is best. Store it on a low shelf of the refrigerator on a plate so that it does not drip onto other items.

Cooked, cut chicken is best when refrigerated for two days or less; whole cooked chicken, three days or less.

When storing a cooked and stuffed whole chicken, remove the stuffing and store in a separate container before refrigerating.

Freeze uncooked chicken if it is not to be used within two days. Before you freeze, wrap separate pieces in foil or separate plastic bags. Remember to press air out of the package first and label the pieces with the date.

Thawing Chicken Products

Handling Chicken Products

Thaw chicken in the refrigerator — not on the countertop — or in cold water.

It takes about 24 hours to thaw a 1.2kg chicken in the refrigerator. Portions will take between 3 and 9 hours, depending on their size.

For quick thawing of raw or cooked chicken use the microwave. Thawing time will
vary. Cook chicken immediately after microwave thawing.

Cooking Chicken Products

Handling Chicken Products

The following table gives approximate cooking times for different chicken types and cooking methods:

Type of Chicken Weight Roasting at 180°C Simmering Grilling
Whole Roasting Chicken 1.3kg - 1.8kg 1¼-1½ hrs Not suitable 60-75 min.
Breast Halves, bone-in 170g - 240g 30-40 min. 35-45 min. 10-15 min./side
Breast Half, boneless 120g 20-30 min. 25-30 min. 6-8 min./side
Legs or thighs 240g or 120g 40-50 min. 40-50 min. 10-15 min./side
Drumsticks 120g 35-45 min. 40-50 min. 8-12 min./side
Wings or wingettes 120g - 170g 30-40 min. 35-45 min. 8-12 min./side

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long does chicken keep for after its been cooked?

A. In the refrigerator, cooked chicken would keep for 3 to 4 days and in the freezer, this shelflife is extended to 4 to 6 months.

Q. Can we thaw chicken breasts on the counter at room temperature?

A. No, chicken breasts cannot be safely thawed on the counter at room temperature. They can be safely thawed in the refrigerator or sealed in a package in a sink of cold water, changing the water every 45 minutes. They can also be thawed in the microwave, if they are cooked immediately.

Q. Can I freeze, thaw, and then re-freeze chicken?

A. While re-freezing thawed chicken or other meats can be done safely, it is not recommended. My preference is that once thawed (and this is done in the refrigerator) cook the chicken and freeze the cooked meat to consume at another time. However, if the chicken has been defrosted in the refrigerator and still has ice crystals you could re-freeze. But you can expect lower quality (texture) meat.

Q. Can I eat defrosted chicken without reheating

A. Yes, as long as the chicken if fully cooked and has been defrosted in the refrigerator.

Q. I boiled and boned a chicken, then froze it. I thawed it and made a casserole. Can I refreeze it?

A. Yes, you may safely refreeze it as long as the chicken has been handled correctly. The cooked chicken should have been defrosted in the fridge. The casserole should have been cooled quickly and refrigerated. It can now be frozen. When ready to serve, thaw the casserole in the fridge and heat quickly, only what you will use, to a piping hot 77C (170F). Enjoy!

Q. I have made and frozen some chicken stock. Is it safe to defrost this and use it in a recipe and then freeze that meal?

A. Yes, it will be safe as long as the recipe is cooked before freezing.

Q. Can you tell me what would cause black mold spots to grow on the chicken?

A. Darkening of meat around poultry bones can occur in young chickens. Since the bones have not calcified or hardened completely, pigment from the bone marrow seeps through the bones and into the surrounding meat. Freezing can also contribute to this darkening. This is not a food safety issue but an aesthetic one. If this is the cause of your black spots, the chicken is safe to eat when cooked to 82C/180F.

Q. Does freezer burn on a chicken that's been in the freezer for a month, mean it's unsafe to cook?

A. The chicken is safe to eat, but the areas with freezer burn will be dried out and tasteless and can be trimmed away, if desired. Your freezer burn has occurred because the chicken was not freezer wrapped and sealed properly.

Q. How long can you keep frozen chicken stock?

A. Recommended storage time for chicken stock would be 3 months.

Q. I took chicken breast out of the freezer and put in the fridge to thaw. I forgot about it for a few days. Will it still be okay to cook and eat?

A. Once your chicken is thawed, it should be cooked within two days.

 
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