The Best Ways to Keep Poultry Fresh

The Best Ways to Keep Poultry Fresh

Chicken, turkey, duck and other birds are among the most popular meats in the country, but like any food, there are limits on how long one can keep poultry fresh. Here are some of the basics of keeping your poultry fresher, longer:

When returning home from the grocery store, immediately place fresh raw poultry in a refrigerator that maintains 40 °F or below or freeze poultry immediately at 0 °F or below. Once frozen poultry should be safe almost indefinitely but for the best quality raw whole poultry should be cooked and consumed within 1 year. If you plan on freezing poultry for longer than 2 months, you should wrap the store plastic packages with airtight heavy-duty foil, freezer plastic wrap or freezer bags. Use airtight freezer containers to repackage larger quantities into smaller units. Wrapping properly helps to prevents “freezer burn”, which is drying of the surface of the poultry, resulting in grayish brown leather-like spots. It is the result of air reaching the food surface, freezer-burned portions can be cut away either before or after cooking the poultry.

Remember that after cooking a meat thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat, breast should be between 170oF to 175oF and thighs should be 180oF to 185oF.

When purchasing fresh poultry it should feel cold to the touch, and it is interesting to note that it is not necessary to wash raw poultry since any bacteria which might be present are destroyed in the cooking process. Unlike most poultry, fresh whole turkey may be stored longer, the USDA has not decided on an exact storage time fresh turkey will keep unopened up to one week but no longer than 2 days past the sell-by date. It must be stored unopened in the coldest part of the refrigerator at all times.

Below are the refrigerator storage (40° F or below) guidelines according to the USDA:

Fresh chicken, giblets or ground chicken – 1 to 2 days.

Cooked poultry, leftovers – 3 to 4 days.

Poultry broth or gravy – 1 to 2 days.

Cooked casseroles, dishes or soup – 3 to 4 days.

Cooked pieces, covered with broth or gravy – 1 to 2 days.

Cooked nuggets or patties – 1 to 2 days.

Fried poultry – 3 to 4 days.

Take-out convenience poultry (rotisserie, fried, etc.) – 3 to 4 days.

Restaurant leftovers, brought immediately home – 3 to 4 days.

Store cooked poultry dinner including gravy – 1 to 2 days.

Chicken salad – 3 to 5 days.

Deli sliced poultry luncheon meat – 3 to 5 days.

Poultry luncheon meat, sealed in package – 2 weeks (but no longer than 1 week after the sell-by date).

Poultry luncheon meat, after opening – 3 to 5 days.

Vacuum packed dinners, commercial brand with USDA seal, unopened 2 weeks – opened 3 to 4 days.
Poultry hotdogs, unopened – 2 weeks (but no longer than 1 week after the sell-by date).

Poultry hotdogs, after opening – 7 days

Canned poultry products – 2 to 5 years in pantry.

The Author:

Mark Gold has more than 27 years of experience in the Food and Beverage Industry. He has written numerous articles on food and food preservation.

2 thoughts on “The Best Ways to Keep Poultry Fresh

  1. Chicken Again?

    I would like to share a very simple, and delicious meal with your readers.

    4 chicken breasts, butterflied
    1 red pepper, sliced thin
    1 leek, rinsed and chopped roughly
    1/2 cup white wine
    1/4 cup of cream 15%
    2 pinches of tarragon
    salt and white pepper to taste.

    In a frying pan with a little olive oil, sear your butterflied chicken breasts, (soaking them in buttermilk for 15 min. makes them incredibly tender) remove them from the pan and finish in a 350 degree oven.

    In another pan add your chopped leeks, and red pepper, cook about 5 min.

    Add the white wine and cook about 4 min.
    Just before serving add tarragon, cream and salt and pepper, serve over cooked chicken.

    Guaranteed to chase away the chicken blahs.

  2. Chicken with Orange


    I enjoy your site and wanted to share a recipe that I have enjoyed for years. I call it very simply, “Chicken with Orange.”

    Ingredients needed:

    Chicken parts or chicken breasts (I prefer the chicken parts) about 2 lb. or more (I don’t necessarily measure, depending upon the servings)

    * l Large white onion (or more to taste)
    * About 2 Tbs. of Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil (no strong tasting oils for this recipe)
    * About 1 cup of fresh Orange Juice (whether fresh or in carton),
    PLUS 1 small can of Orange Juice Concentrate (in the frozen food section).
    * 2-3 Large cloves of fresh garlic (or more to taste) — you can substitute garlic powder, but fresh it best.
    * Fresh Parsley (chopped) (optional)

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    Add the oil to a large baking pan. Place the chicken parts or breasts in the baking pan, separating the pieces. Either dice or slice medium-thick slices of onion and place on top of the chicken pieces. Mince the fresh garlic cloves and add them all to the chicken/onion mixture.

    Now combine the orange juices and add about 1 cup of water (for more intense orange flavor) or about 1 1/2 cups water (for a little less intensity); combine thoroughly and just mix it through the chicken, onions and garlic in the baking pan, coating as well as possible.

    Now, I usually add about 2-3 tablespoons of the chopped parsley and sprinkle on top of the chicken mixture.

    Bake the chicken mixture for approximately 1 hour or until lightly browned
    and cooked through. Sprinkle with a bit more parsley. You can also add fresh cilantro to make it taste a bit more Spanish style.

    This is especially delicious over hot cooked rice.

    Note: This recipe is extremely adaptable and can be double, tripled, etc., depending upon appetite and/or servings wanted.

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