Quick question about processing to freezing time


In the Brooder
7 Years
May 2, 2012
Quick question. I processed my first batch of chickens on Saturday. I let them each rest for almost three days before sticking in freezer. I have one still in the refrigerator because I am planning to cook it Friday. My wife thinks it needs to be put in freezer because sitting in fridge form Saturday to Friday will spoil the meat.

How long will it stay good in fridge if it's never been frozen?
You can cook it today and reheat it Friday. Three day rule in raw meats. 4 days should be OK, but you need to cook or freeze it today. It will not make you sick if you cook it today, however after three days it starts to really break down and will start to smell bad and taste off. It will not taste as good today as it would have yesterday.
You can let your freshly killed chicken sit in your fridge for a while, as long as you keep it cold. A week will not hurt it.

I have had fresh meat in my fridge for 2 1/2 weeks and it was still good (it was an oops, not a planned thing). No smell, no off taste, no one got sick or died. It actually tasted great and I kept the leftovers for over a week.

The chicken you get from the store has been hanging around for a while before it ever hits the meat counter. When I worked at a small grocery store during high school, we got meat shipments once a week, and it would sit in the cooler until the butcher needed it to fill the case, some was in there for 9 days before being used. Then they date it for X number of days from when they clean/cut/wrap it for purchase. The last day they can sell it, they would sticker it for "Manager Special" to sell it quick before they had to toss it.

Also, it took me 5 days to thaw a 18 pound turkey, using the recommendation on the package.
How cold is your fridge? That will make a difference. (It should be 40F or less -- http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FACTSheets/Refrigeration_&_Food_Safety/index.asp#4 )

I usually butcher on Sunday. If I'm going to freeze them, really there's no need to wait but I'm typically tired after getting them done and don't feel like shrink bagging them, so they get a few days rest by default.

I have _no_ problem keeping a freshly butchered chicken in a cold fridge for a week.

This is NOT the same thing as buying chicken in the store -- there, yes, you need to use it within a few days (and three would be pushing it) or it's going to spoil. That's because it's old when you get it!

The good news is that your nose will let you know if there's a problem. It will be slimy and smell *bad* if it's spoiled.

That's an excellent point that I'd not really thought of before. Thanks! I'm always very careful to follow the 3 day rule, but never considered that the meat from the store has already been sitting there at least a day (if not longer - maybe even much longer).
I read that turkey processor's guidelines from the USDA is to flash chill immediately after processing, to below 40 degrees for a 10 day buy by date. I would think chicken should be about the same, depending on how fast you get the meat from feet to to processed and 40 degrees! I have processed roosters really fast, submerged them in frozen salted ice and near freezing water for 5 days and they were fine. I poured the water off every 8 hours and added more salty ice in blocks, to keep the water just above freezing, like when you make ice cream. I plan to process my thanksgiving turkeys the Saturday before Thanksgiving with this method.
Beef is almost a month old when it goes into the meat case, we buy it and can still keep it in the meat draw of our fridge for a week. My brother raises beef cattle. The slaughter house slaughters the steer and half's or quarters it and ages it for 3 weeks for "Choice" beef(prime meat can be months), then cuts it, shrink wraps sections that go to the butcher shops, the butcher then cuts what he needs as he fills the meat cases each day for a week or so(I think they have as much as 10 days that they can keep it), then it has a couple of days to the sell by date. We then buy it and can keep it in the fridge at least another week. There are people who shop once a week that never put meat in the freezer! I would not keep poultry that long from the store, but have kept chicken for 4 days from the store and it was nice and fresh, but my fridge is set on 38 degrees.

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