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Oct 26, 2007 12:29 PM

When Good Chorizo Goes Bad (Maybe)

I got my chorizo (out of the casing) from my local butcher and it looked delicious!

So --

it was in my fridge since Saturday afternoon, in the original butcher paper, untouched and unopened. I split it up into ziplocs yesterday (Thursday) night and put it in the freezer.

It looked and smelled fine at that time.

Is it still safe to eat?

I want to make chorizo and eggs tomorrow for breakfast, but I don't want to poison my family. Thanks!

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  1. Chorizo usually stays good longer in the fridge with the casing. I've kept it in mine for a week, but it has been in the sausage form.

    1 Reply
    1. re: la0426

      Casing makes no difference on shelf-life....

    2. Its fine... Chorizo is fairly well preserved with vinegar, salt & spices removing much of the moisture... I've definitely have had similar situations with no problem whatsover.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        The amount of vinegar added to chorizo has no effect on the pH and hence preservation....
        On another hand if the chorizo is contaminated with lactics then the 4-5 days in the fridge will do wonders for their numbers.....just make sure you cook it well...

        1. re: Pollo

          Please explain to me how the amount of vinegar (acetic acid) doesn't effect the pH. What methods of acid-base titration and/or analytical measurment can be used to support this wonder of chemistry?

          1. re: bkhuna

            This is not "wonder chemistry"...just a bit of "common sense". Check the available chorizo reciepies to see the amount of vinegar that is used (v. small - used as a flavoring agent) and if you want to check pH get a portable pH meter...

            1. re: Pollo

              But you have to factor in the spices & herbs as well.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                It sounds perhpas like Pollo has been through the NRAs Serve Safe training program. I love chorizo, in fact I can make it from scratch, but I have to agree more with Pollo about some of the food safety issues here. 1) You've got a finely divided product (i.e. ground meat) providing lots of surface area upon which potential contaminates can proliferate. 2) The VAST majority of food borne pathogens and bacteria love that temperature range between 40* and 140* +/-. They do their best work in that range and can become pretty lethal, pretty quickly. Unrefrigerated choirzo, on display or otherwise, becomes a rather efficient bacteria/pathogen factory. 3) The recipes I use for chorizo do call for a fairly substantial amount of vinegar, something like 3 cups to 5# of meat, I don't know if that is really sufficient to prevent or retard bacteria, or if it's enough to alter pH. I'll hang the chorizo links for 3 days to age them and a great deal of the vinegar drains out. That said, neither have I ever gotten sick from eating chorizo that has been air cured, meaning it wasn't under refrigeration. 4) With the exception of salt most herbs and spices do not have antimicrobial properties. In the case of chorizo I have to agree with Pollo that they are a flavoring agent, not a preservation agent. 5) Freezing kills approximately 70% +/- of harmful bacteria and pathogens because they can't survive the cold. Cooking to an internal temperatuer of 165* +/- will kill almost almost, but certainly NOT ALL, harmful bacteria/pathogens.

                I like chorizo...a lot, but I think it does need to be handled with care as it does have the potential to be a higher risk item. When in doubt, throw it out.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  DiningDiva: I work in the food industry and have seen over the years a lot of "interesting" issues that, let's just say the general public has no idea exist. Now to add/comment on some of the points you made:
                  1) Almost all commercially available Mexican style fresh Chorizo is made with meat trimings and other parts of the pig (i.e. limph nodes) which makes it even more susceptible to spoilage because these ingredients have higher micro loads than cuts of whole muscle.
                  2) Some "bugs" (Listeria / Staph) will grow even at 33F.
                  3) I'm quite sure the amount of vinegar you add in your recipe will not change the pH that time I have some time I will test a few commercially available Chorizos...will see.
                  4) Number of spices (essencial oils) do have bacteriostatic / bacteriocidal properties the problem is the levels needed will make the products in-edible.
                  5) One you reach internal product temperature of 165F+ you will kill ALL the vegetative pathogenic "bugs" that can potencially be present in a Chorizo but if you had Staph growing and producing a toxin that will not do much good since the toxin is heat stable. Trust me when I say that staph poisoning is the worst kind....

                  I also like Chorizo but the dry/Spanish variety....

                  1. re: Pollo

                    Mexican style Chorizo made by the meat markets... or throughout Mexico is not usually made from offal... the OP wasn't talking about the $2 lb crap made by Cacique, Carmelita or El Mexicano.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      EN, I didn't take Pollo's comments to be specific to the cheap stuff. Besides, unless you made it yourself or saw it being processed by your butcher you don't always know what goes into any given meat mixture. I took P's remarks to be more general regarding the nature of the product.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        Trust me when I tell you that unless you make the Chorizo (or any other sausage for that matter) yourself it will/is made from the cheapest cuts of meat and will include offal....again I'm not knocking down just's the nature of the business....

                        1. re: Pollo

                          That is funny I know several master butchers in Mexico that are regionally famous for their chorizo... its always made from Maciza (Shoulder / Loin). I have also watched it being made in a couple of markets here in the states.... again Maciza.

                          Most people will tell you that quality chorizo needs a little bit of lard so it doesn't stick to the traditional clay pans or iron cast comal.

                      2. re: Pollo

                        I understood entirely all too well the points you were trying to make and realized you had to be in the food industry. I've been in multi-unit food service for years (too many years) and unfortunately, I DO know all about staph poisoning. Taco salad, employee with a cat scratch on her face...125 ill patrons, an operators worst nightmare. Thank you for expanding on my points, it's good info to know.

                      3. re: DiningDiva

                        I have never known anyone get sick from Chorizo in Mexico... I am not a food scientist... but I would contend (based on empiracle evidence) that the combination of vinegar, salt, herbs & spices (even assuming the spcies & herbs don't have anti-bacterial properties they do draw out moisture) and the hanging reduces the moisture level enough to retard the bacteria.

                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                          EN, I don't think I can agree that the hanging/aging reduces moisture levels enough to retard bacteria growth. Even after 3 days the stuff I make myself is still fairly moist. Moist enough, I'm sure, to sustain multiple types of bacteria. And I don't think the amount of salt in my recipe is enough to make the mixture saline enough to be fatal to germs.

                          I can follow your logic completely since it's pretty similar to mine. I mean, vinegar/acid? salt? two easy and well known way to reduce bacteria and preserve food products. But I also understand exactly where Pollo is coming from and I think s/he really does have some very valid points.

                          I've eaten chorizo all over Mexico, in restaurants, taquerias, homes, and from street vendors, and, knock wood, I've never had the least bit of problem with it. I also had the opportunity to see it produced in Toluca, where it was made in very hygienic conditions and hung in refrigeration, not at room temp. I don't eat a lot of chorizo in the U.S. because I don't like the products available, that's why I learned to make my own. I can control what goes in and the conditions under which I make it, that helps reduce the risks. Not everyone can or does control the conditions under which they make their food products. That's an issue.

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            I agree with what you said...Pollo is a he....

            2. I think it's fine. When you froze it it was fine, so it will still be fine now.

              1. You are talking fresh chorizo, not the dried Spanish kind, right? Dried would definitely be OK. Fresh, If it passed the smell test when you froze it then it should be OK. If you are worried don't let it sit unfrozen for long and cook it very thrououghly.

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