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Aug 16, 2011 11:39 PM

buttermilk marinade - how long is too long?


A friend of mine was coming to visit and I was marinading chicken in buttermilk to make "unfried" chicken (oven roasted).

But now her schedule has changed and she's not coming tomorrow, but Saturday. Will this chicken last?

I've tried to research the CH board and online, but can't seem to find a definitive answer:
is it possible to marinade chicken for TOO LONG? Is there any danger of the flesh breaking down too much?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Yeah, I think five days in the marinade might be a little long. I'd probably rinse and freeze the chicken tomorrow and thaw Friday for cooking Saturday. Freezing isn't strictly necessary -- after rinsing it you could just keep in a Ziploc for a few days with no harm.

    Especially if the marinade is highly salted and is acting like a brine as well, you could end up with something more akin to ham if you leave it too long.

    1. I've never left chicken in buttermilk this long, so I could only speculate. Buttermilk does tend to tenderize due to the combined influence of enzymes, calcium, and acidity. I suspect that you'd get an odd texture if you left it in the buttermilk at refrigerator temp that long.

      You have a few options as to how to deal with the situation. Given that you're going to be holding the chicken for several days now, I would probably recommend putting the chicken along with the marinade in a ziplock bag, getting any air out of the bag (you could submerge most of the bag in water to help force air out), and then freezing the chicken in the marinade. That should effectively halt the marination, and the buttermilk in the bag should help you avoid freezer burn and large ice crystals.

      On Saturday, thaw the bag in a pot in the sink under cold running water. Cook as you had planned initially.

      1 Reply
      1. Thank you all so much for these suggestions! The chicken will be saved!