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Keeping chicken in the fridge longer

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I'm a single guy, living alone, and I love to cook. I prefer not to cook in big batches because I like to try different things day to day. Cooking 4 pieces of chicken the same way and eating them all week doesn't appeal to me. The supermarkets near me don't sell small portions, so I have to buy larger packages. I don't wanna freeze it, so it will be ready anytime I get hungry or in the mood for chicken. The thing is sometimes I'll decide I want pork fish or beef on the way home from work, and the chicken ends up sitting. Frequently the last two pieces spoil before I use them.

If I were to put some of the chicken a container with either a marinade or a brine, will that help it last longer? One time put chicken in buttermilk, and forgot about it for a week; by the time I pulled it out, it looked fine and I made fried chicken with it. Came out fantastic. What does everyone think?

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  1. I think, if you freeze the individual pieces they won't take long to thaw, and you can be a lot more flexible with your menu. I'm quite courageous when it comes to holding raw food, followed by cooked food, but after more than 3 or 4 day I go into "danger mode"; not that I don't cook and eat it but I handle it a LOT more carefully, and label the leftovers as such if I freeze them.

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    1. re: coll

      Yes, especially of you used the cold water method. Drop 1 or 2 sealed packages of chicken in a bowl of cold water. Go change your clothes, wash your hands and pour yourself a beer (soda, whatever) and the chicken will be well on its way. I can thaw a 2lb bag of ground beef in less than 1/2 using that method.

      And as coli said, chicken quickly can turn. You can often find chicken thats smelly and gross well before the sell by day if it hasn't been handled properly. You possibly could get more time if you store it in the coldest part of your fridge, and you could even lower the temp of your fridge a few degrees but neither is going give your more than a day, maybe two more.

      ETA- you can also talk to one the folks in the meat dept, they might be willing to sell you smaller packs. My Stop and SHop will do it for me

    2. You may want to consider better freezing methods. I've been using a vac machine and bagging in single serve or small packaging. It will thaw in a sink of cold water in under a 1/2 an hour. I cook on impulse a lot and having many proteins portioned and nicely frozen so there is no freezer burn allows me a lot of leeway in off the cuff meal prep. The results are as good as just purchased proteins in most cases. For me the expense of the Foodvac and bags was worth it. Especially when I considered how much meat, cheese and seafood I tossed that had gone bad in the freezer or fridge over the years.

      1. freeze it, individual portions defrost in cold water,boneless defrost pretty fast.

        alternately you can poach a whole chicken then use the meat in a number of different recipes; pastas, curries, salads etc and freeze portions of what is unused.

        the acid in the buttermilk probably helped prevent your chicken from spoiling but I personally would not play around with brine preserving raw chicken in my fridge.

        1. Sitting in brine for more than a day will make the chicken too salty. But you can put it in a sealed baggie with a *small* amount of soy or teriyaki sauce, or similar marinade, and massage it so it gets onto all surfaces of the chicken. The salt in it will extend the refrigerator.

          Be conservative with acidic ingredients as long submersion will make the meat mushy.

          You did not say what chicken pieces you are buying. If it's boneless, skinless breasts, you can slice the raw chicken into cutlets, dice it, or pound it into evenly-thin paillards, freezing the results in a single layer in a baggie (suck out the air with a straw). Submerge a frozen bag in cool water when you get home from work, and it will thaw in minutes.

          1. I usually cook for one and buy a lot of chicken. I package it into individual servings well actually I buy Wegmans freezer pack already separated into breasts and freeze them. They defrost in an hour either in cold water or on the surface of a cast iron pan.

            1. Another vote for freezing in individual portions. I'm cooking for one and EVERY meat comes in a portion that's too big to cook at once... I don't want to eat the SAME thing for 3-4 days either. Put individual portions in small bags (squeezing out as much air as possible) or wrap in 2-3 layers of plastic wrap. Then individual portions into a larger freezer bag... so portions don't freeze together. A single portion of just about anything will thaw in about 25-30 minutes in a good size container of room temp water.

              1. You can keep meat in the fridge for a week at a time as long as it's well wrapped and in the coldest part of the fridge. This is if the meat is not close to it's expiration date. But that said, I do pretty much what everyone else does here, freeze and thaw.

                1. 1. this may gain you a couple extra days, cook the chicken for today's meal, and put the remainder of the unused chicken in the very BACK of your fridge ( Where the cold air of your freezer comes out) . . the back of my fridge is cooler than the rest of the fridge, sometimes almost keeping the food in a semi frozen state.
                  2. Also always buy the freshest chicken with the longest expiration date
                  3. Maybe set your fridge a little cooler (eg 38 degrees instead of 40)
                  4. I DO find that "Salty" marinated chicken (I do a lot of soy or teriyaki type marinades) seems to last a little longer in my fridge than raw unmarinated chicken.
                  5. Doing all the above, would probably let your chicken last 1 week in the fridge uncooked.(esp doing #1)