How long can I leave chicken stock in the fridge?
April 9, 2008 4:54 AM   Subscribe

How long can I keep fresh chicken stock in the refrigerator before I use it?

I have chicken stock that I either defrost in the microwave or let defrost in the fridge. About how long after that will it be ok? This is fresh chicken stock that I have made, not purchased.
posted by hazyspring to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Refrigerator times are somewhat temperature-dependent. However, 3-4 days is normally the limit for cooked meat (i.e. the chicken in your stock).

Freezing is a different matter. Assuming your freezer (or icebox) is 3- or 4-star rated and can freeze to -18C or below (about -6F), you can keep stock almost indefinitely, although after 12 months the flavour will almost certainly have begun to deteriorate. There's no danger of poisoning though.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:03 AM on April 9, 2008

I agree with le morte de bea arthur, I wouldn’t use any meat stock that has been in the refrigerator for more than 4 days or so.

If you frequently make your own stock and freeze it, consider freezing small portions. The recommendations I’ve seen say to reduce the stock more than you normally would, making it about double strength, then freezing it in an ice cube tray. With such small portions, you never have to worry about having leftovers. When you use the small frozen portion, double it with water to bring the concentration back to a normal level.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 6:04 AM on April 9, 2008

I am a little more liberal about this: 5 to 7 days as long as the stock is in a tightly-covered container and as long as you plan to bring it to a full boil for several minutes before using it.

But I completely agree with reducing it by half and freezing it in ice cube trays as the perfect way to keep it for up to 6 months.
posted by briank at 6:16 AM on April 9, 2008

We've kept homemade stock in the fridge fresh for weeks in airtight containers. Just smell it- your nose is a perfect tool for determining if it's gone. The key is to SKIM IT AND STRAIN IT, so that you remove as many solids as possible.
posted by mkultra at 7:11 AM on April 9, 2008

After 3 or 4 days, you can bring it to a rolling boil for five minutes or so and put it back in the fridge (repeat every 3 days). If I find myself boiling it twice, I either use, freeze, or dispose - I think the repeated boiling destroys some of the flavor.
posted by catlet at 7:15 AM on April 9, 2008

Thirding reducing it more than you normally would and freezing it in ice cube trays. This is one of those things you'll wonder how you ever lived without once you do it. It becomes so easy to throw a cube into all those dishes that could do with some more flavor.
posted by peacheater at 8:11 AM on April 9, 2008

I'm with mkultra.
We freeze it in quart jars, and then take it out to defrost in the fridge.
Usually we go through a jar pretty quick, but I wouldn't be surprised if the occasional jar was in there a week or more before it was gone.
If it smells ok, it probably is.
posted by dan g. at 8:31 AM on April 9, 2008

I definitely don't go more than a week, and even at the end of the week, I'm kinda sketched out. Smell it.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:18 AM on April 9, 2008

I agree with mkultra too. I usually give it 7-10 days or even longer (if I forget how long it's been in there). In addition to removing solids, I give it a vigorous boil for 5-10 minutes, replenishing with water to maintain volume (or not, if I plan on using it in a reduction).
posted by slogger at 9:31 AM on April 9, 2008

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