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Mar 18, 2013 01:32 PM

Chicken stock usability question

I simmered up about six quarts of chicken stock on Saturday, and poured it into three 2-quart containers, all pretty evenly filled. On Sunday, I noticed that one of them has bent inward, like the air had been sucked out of it. I opened it to have a look and smell, and nothing seemed out of order. However, I couldn't get the plastic to bounce back to shape, either. The other two containers are still perfectly round as usual.

Is this just some quirk of heating and cooling liquid and gas that I shouldn't fret about? Or could something have contaminated one of my containers? Could all the stock somehow be tainted, and only one container visibly indicates it?

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  1. Cooled gas has less volume, it is normal.

    1. That's something that just happens sometimes due to the difference in temp while the stock is freezing. No fretting necessary. Stock is fine.

      1. Is it possible you poured the soup way too hot and it melted some of the plastic in only one container? When I make soup stock, when it's finished, I strain it into a ginormous bowl and stick it into the fridge once its cooled down some. Once refrigerated, I degrease the soup and only then put it into plastic containers and seal it. If you sealed it too hot, perhaps the plastic melted? OTOH, I would taste a smal tablespoon to see if its OK. You know the old saying - better safe than sorry.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Diane in Bexley

          I don't think it would have melted anything — the stock was at a middling simmer, not boiling hot. And, for that matter, the funny-looking container was the last batch I strained and poured, so it should have been the coolest of the three going in.

          I fully agree with better safe than sorry. For that reason, though, I was hoping to avoid having to taste the stock to ascertain its quality. Even one mouthful of salmonella is more than I want!

          1. re: elustaz

            Tasting for salmonella is ineffective.

            CDC says:
            Does Salmonella make foods taste or look different?
            Most products contaminated with Salmonella do not taste or look any different than normal. Some taste bad because they contain other contaminants.

            1. re: jaykayen

              Whoa, there. Regardless of what caused your funny plastic containers, Salmonella definitely was NOT one of them.

              Absolutely ZERO worries there. Why would you even suspect that???

              1. re: Bacardi1

                I find it fairly impossible to talk food science on CH, there is a league of worry-warts here. I just try to present the facts without trying to persuade anyone that something is completely safe to eat. I agree it is not salmonella.

                1. re: Bacardi1

                  Oh, because my paranoid mind always leaps to worst-case scenarios, no matter how improbable.

                  Basically, the thing that unsettled me is that the container looks like the inverse of a can contaminated with botulism, which would bulge out instead of sucking in. And yes, I realize that this is little short of insane. Just needed to confirm that.

                  I kept the stock on a nice simmer for nearly five hours – added too much water by mistake, initially – so thanks to the good folks of CH, I can rule out my nightmare scenario.

                  Oh, and for clarity's sake, I refrigerated all three containers. I'll freeze any that I don't use in the next day.

                  1. re: elustaz

                    You made the stock on Saturday, asked the question on Monday. Now it is Tuesday. Before you freeze that stock, it is necessary to bring it to a boil again. Stock goes sour fairly quickly, and if the plan is to keep in the refrigerator it should be boiled every couple of days to prevent souring.

                    In the future, the stock should be cooled rapidly before being placed into covered plastic containers and refrigerated. It can be ladled into the containers, but the stock needs to cool before it is covered. Once cooled, refrigerate it for freezing as soon as it is cold.

              2. re: elustaz

                Hang on a sec. Let's take a step backwards.

                This is stock. Odds are that you're not going to drink it cold from the fridge, but that it's going into something else, likely a soup or sauce.

                At 160F (i.e.: waaaay below boiling temp), pathogens are killed off in less than a second. On the presumption that you plan on heating the sucker past 160F, eventually, there could be all the salmonella in the world in your stock and it wouldn't make the slightest amount of difference.

                Hell, if you're that concerned about it, chuck it back in the pot and boil it again! That'll show those pesky bacteria!

                1. re: biggreenmatt

                  So I wanted to make sure I was right with my information since it deals with food safety, so I found the logarithm tables online as published by the FDA, which is an interesting read from a food safety perspective.


                  What it basically says is that while baterial and microbial nasties are killed off instantaneously at internal temps of 160F (hence the old wives' tales of cooking things like poultry to medium-well), lower temps will also kill off the nasties, but will take more time to do it. Imagine it being the difference between you walking outside on a 100F day (hot and uncomfortable, but you'll survive for a day or two before dying due to dehydration) versus walking outside on a 1000F day (instant kill).

                  And that's the reason why it shouldn't matter whether or not your stock has salmonella or not!

            2. If you're worried toss it, but there's no way the plastic issue had anything to do with salmonella. Is the last container older? So maybe the plastic's thinner and more susceptible to that vacuum effect?

              1. It is the vacuum effect from cooling. Probably that container is of a thinner plastic. As long as it has been kept in a working refrigerator you are fine.

                If the container was bulging it would be a concern!