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how long does stock keep in the frig?

mschow Oct 4, 2008 11:43 AM

I made some homemade chicken stock 2 weeks ago and have not used it all up. It's been refrigerated and kept in a ceramic container in the frig. How long will this stay good, or is it already spoiled? It still smells good, but I'm still a little uncertain about the shelf life of stock. I would have frozen it, but my freezer is completely full right now. Do I chance eating this, or am I just being paranoid about food safety?

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  1. Eric in NJ Oct 4, 2008 11:55 AM

    If it smells OK taste a little. If it tastes allright, I would put it in a pot bring it back up to a short boil cool and stick it in the fridge again. I think I read that tip from Bittman.

    1. todao Oct 4, 2008 12:00 PM

      3 - 4 days, perhaps, depending on the frig. temperature; but not 2 weeks. Toss it out.

      1. alanbarnes Oct 4, 2008 12:02 PM

        If it smells good, you're probably fine. But better to err on the side of safety; a 10-minute simmer will guarantee the demise of any bugs that may have taken up residence.

        1. PBSF Oct 4, 2008 12:56 PM

          Two weeks is too long to keep a stock in the refrigerator unless it has been reduced to a gelatin like glaze. Contrary to an earlier post, boiling will only kill the bacteria but not the pathogens that it has released, making it unsafe to consume.

          7 Replies
          1. re: PBSF
            n
            nemo Oct 4, 2008 01:14 PM

            Even after a rolling boil for 20 minutes? 30 minutes? I'm facing a similar problem. Four, maybe five days, one container with a healthy fat cap, one not so much. So tell me about the evil pathogens.

            1. re: nemo
              alanbarnes Oct 4, 2008 02:22 PM

              Bacteria don't release pathogens, they are pathogens. Once you've killed 'em, they're harmless.

              That said, some bacteria do produce heat-stable **toxins**. Staphylococcus is your major concern on this front. But before that can be a problem there has to be both a source of infection and an effective growth medium. Unless people have been sticking their hands or sneezing or spitting into your container, the presence of staph bacteria in stock is vanishingly unlikely. And if the stock has been under constant refrigeration since it was made, any bacteria present are multiplying at a very slow rate.

              I routinely keep stock in the fridge for a week or more. The main problem if you let it go too long is the flavor - it turns sour and unpleasant. So if the stock smells good, simmer it for ten minutes and taste it. If it tastes good, there's no reason to throw it out.

              1. re: alanbarnes
                m
                miggy Nov 1, 2010 04:36 AM

                Very informative about the toxins. Thanks.

            2. re: PBSF
              p
              Phliss Jan 21, 2011 12:57 PM

              Could you explain why the gelatinous stock lasts longer?

              1. re: Phliss
                greygarious Jan 21, 2011 01:22 PM

                The more it is reduced - and PBSF was talking about a glace, not just a gelatinous stock - the more concentrated the salt is, and salt is a preservative.

                1. re: greygarious
                  Ruth Lafler Jan 21, 2011 01:33 PM

                  That's assuming there's a fair amount of salt in it in the first place. As I said below, lots of variables involved.

              2. re: PBSF
                s
                stephencmace Mar 1, 2012 10:59 AM

                Just an fyi, bacteria and pathogen... they are the same thing. Technically, a pathogen can be either a bacteria or a virus. I too am trying to figure out what to do about the stock in my fridge. Smells fine, been there weeks... I think I am going to boil it for a while then cook with it. I will let you guys know if I get sick or die. Well... maybe not if I die.

              3. paulj Oct 4, 2008 01:02 PM

                Does it have an intact layer of fat on top?

                1 Reply
                1. re: paulj
                  w
                  Willa Dec 9, 2012 03:10 PM

                  Does the fat help? I assume so from your question.

                2. n
                  nosh Oct 4, 2008 01:51 PM

                  I am far from a fanatic about using some foods left in the fridge. But not stock or broth. There is no better cultivating medium for bacteria and other microbes that you definitely don't want. As mentioned above, boiling can kill them but doesn't eliminate the toxins left behind. A good rich stock should be frozen -- it sours and gets dangerous after just three days or so in the icebox, even if oxygen is restricted by a nice fat layer on top. A week is too long, two weeks is just dangerous. If you decide to take your chances anyway please leave a note so the paramedics or your beneficiaries know what happened.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: nosh
                    mschow Oct 4, 2008 02:15 PM

                    Thanks everyone.
                    Nosh, your post did me in. I'm tossing it since I have no immediate plans to die in the near future. And it was so delicious....sigh.

                    1. re: mschow
                      Jen76 Oct 4, 2008 06:11 PM

                      Funny. We had a pot of homemade soup that I made last week out of stock that was in the fridge for almost 2 weeks. Smelled fine, tasted perfectly fine, and we didn't get sick.

                  2. o
                    oryza Oct 7, 2008 04:48 PM

                    I just ate some stock that was in my fridge for 2 weeks; no harm at all. It still tasted good, too. Then again, there was a good layer of fat on top... and I brought it to a quick boil on the stovetop every few days for the first week-- before I forgot it (hence, it sat in the back of the fridge without being eaten)

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                      Agent Orange Oct 7, 2008 05:21 PM

                      I think it's best not to risk sickness, in general. Two weeks might not be too long if nothing seems suspect and you have boiled the stock. I'm no expert in the matter. Although I admit that in February I made a soup out of turkey stock leftover from the last year's Thanksgiving. I even fed it to friends. We're all still alive.

                      1. CPla Oct 15, 2008 12:14 AM

                        Bittman says 4 - 5 days, longer if you boil the stock every third day to stop spoilage.

                        Still, I do not like this and 3 days is the longest I have ever kept soups or stocks in the fridge. If I am planning to keep for longer, I prefer to freeze.

                        1. Ruth Lafler Jan 21, 2011 01:17 PM

                          Every time there's a question like this I miss Sam Fujisaka!

                          I don't like all these answers that imply there are a certain number of days that are definitively good or bad. Case in point: last weekend I had two containers of milk in my fridge: about ten ounces of nonfat milk in a half-gallon container dated December 6 and a sealed carton of 2 percent milk dated January 6. By all rights the former should have been spoiled, while the latter should have still been good (if you count the seven days it's supposed to be good after the "pull date" and the fact that the container was unopened. But nope -- the old nonfat milk was fine, and when I opened the 2 percent it was completely spoiled. In other words there are a lot of variables: something that is improperly stored can go bad long before the "expiration date" and something that has managed to stay uncontaminated by bacteria can be good for a long time.

                          I once used some homemade stock that had been in the back of the fridge for months, but it had been put into the container hot and then left untouched in the coldest part of the fridge with the lid on tight from the vacuum caused by the cooling liquid. Essentially it had been sterile canned. But if I had been taking it out of the fridge, using some, and then putting it back, it undoubtedly would have gone bad much more quickly.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
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                            foreverhungry Mar 1, 2012 01:51 PM

                            Yes. This. There are many factors involved in the longevity of a food item, including where it is in the fridge. Absolute time periods as though they are steadfast rules are meaningless. Like Ruth, I've put stock from pot into container and straight into the fridge, and used it a month later. I've also had stock where it sat in the pot as it cooled, I put it in a container that I opened after day one, and it went bad a few days later. Salt content, placement in fridge, and how it was handled all play a role in the longevity of a food item.

                          2. s
                            slopfrog Jan 21, 2011 02:07 PM

                            I've consumed 2 week old stock plenty of times. It's never tasted bad, smelled bad, or made me sick.

                            1. n
                              noodlepoodle Mar 1, 2012 11:32 AM

                              I don't like to keep stock or broth for more than a week in the fridge. It has a way of getting lost in there. As a rule, if I make my own or open a box or can and don't use it all at once, I freeze it in individual cup size plastic containers for future use.

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                                ancient Dec 22, 2013 05:35 AM

                                Theyre always those who air on the side of caution, which is a valid viewpoint and will chuck everything our every without using their senses, but if you want a rational approach based on your own senses, having put stock in identical cylindrical clear rubber top sealed containers many times, I have examined many stocks inside these unopened containers, I can give you one indicator of bioactivity in the stock, if when you placed the stock in the fridge there was a good 5-10mm fat layer on top and the stock itself gelatinised and remained set and identical to how it was sealed in the container when it was placed in the container hot and the vacuum seal naturally occurred and the stock when you open it smells good, and you are going to boil it at some point in the cooking process and no consistency change has occurred during storage, the stock is probably fine ? at your own judgement, what I notice is that some stock ive stored in what I think are identical conditions, sometimes i will discover that one pot of stock has broken up and the fat is distributed lumpily in the stock and it has become runnier - this stock I quantify as having gone bad ie some acitivty has occurred in the stock, and throw away. Stock that is frozen will last a longer time

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