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Oct 4, 2008 11:43 AM

how long does stock keep in the frig?

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

      1. 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. 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.

          9 Replies
          1. re: PBSF

            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

              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

                Very informative about the toxins. Thanks.

                1. re: miggy

                  This is incorrect. While bacteria can be pathogens, they also release pathogens. The classic example being botulism: a rare and potentially fatal paralytic illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum (


                  Destroying the bacteria by regular boiling is possible, but it takes pressure cooker heat to destroy the toxins.

                  1. re: danielbt

                    Perhaps a matter of semantics, but alanbarnes was correct - pathogens (such as bacteria) don't release pathogens. They may release toxins, but a toxin is different than a pathogen.

            2. re: PBSF

              Could you explain why the gelatinous stock lasts longer?

              1. re: Phliss

                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

                  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

                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. Does it have an intact layer of fat on top?

                1 Reply
                1. re: paulj

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