Chicken broth can be a great base element for creating soups, sauces, and gravies, and can be commonly used to create stock for later use.
But how should chicken broth be stored, and can it go bad?
What Is Chicken Broth?
Also known as chicken bouillon, chicken broth is a savory mixture made from simmering chicken (and sometimes vegetables) in water for a short period of time.
Whilst it can be consumed as is, it is more commonly used as a flavor base for other dishes.
If the water is removed and the mix is dehydrated, the remnants can be turned into savory stock cubes for use at a later date.
Can Chicken Broth Go Bad?
The short answer is yes, chicken broth can indeed go bad.
Whilst it is widely considered that homemade chicken broth will last longer than store bought brands, due to the simple fact that the fat of the chicken is left in the mix, the average shelf life in the refrigerator is around 10 days.
When using chicken stock that has been in the refrigerator for more than a few days, it is recommended to look for signs of spoilage which could result in illness if not noticed.
Signs Of Spoilage
When conducting the checks, there are several signs of spoilage you should look out for.
The first thing to check is the smell of the broth. As with most food products with a traditional shelf life, chicken broth will smell funny if it has gone past its best.
This smell will seem sour, and should be noticeably different from the smell of simmered chicken and water that was created during cooking.
Of course, one thing you could do is give it a taste.
Now whilst this is not always recommended, and depends greatly on the duration the broth has been in the refrigerator, sometimes you cannot always tell by smell alone.
This should only be a small taste if you are not sure, and if there is already a foul smell (no pun intended) then do not taste any at all, as this could result in food poisoning.
Whilst it might be difficult to tell based on sight alone, here are some things to watch out for when examining the broth.
Firstly, if the broth is a clear yellow or amber color, then it should be fine. Obviously combine this with a smell, and even a small taste if necessary.
Secondly, if there are obviously spots of mold on the surface, then the broth should be poured away or thrown in the garbage.
Similarly, if the broth looks cloudy, or collections of sediment have begun to gather, then it should also be disposed of safely and straight away.
Of course, if you are using store bought broth, then you should check the date printed on the packaging.
If the broth you were intending to use has gone past the shelf life recommended on the packaging, then the broth shouldn’t be used.
Chicken Broth: Shelf Life
Of course, the shelf life of chicken broth will depend entirely on whether it is homemade, dehydrated, or store bought.
For canned broth, stored in a sealed, unopened container, the shelf life is usually between 1 to 2 years.
Even after this period has ended, sealed broth can still generally be used for a following 6 months afterwards, although this should always be based on the smell, taste, or appearance of the broth once opened.
For opened cans of broth, they shouldn’t be stored in the refrigerator for more than 4 days. Whilst some brands recommend 7 days, the majority tend to be 3 or 4.
You can also freeze your broth into cubes using an ice cube tray. With this method, you can simply use them as and when you like, using a cube or two at a time. However, it is not recommended to exceed 6 months.
At room temperature it shouldn’t be left for longer than 2 hours, and in the refrigerator it shouldn’t be stored for more than 5 days.
Just like canned broth, homemade broth can be frozen, and should be consumed within a period of 3-6 months.
To avoid illness, always ensure homemade stock has cooled before refrigeration or freezing.
Also, a handy tip can be labeling, or making a note of the date the stock was made, refrigerated, and frozen.
This way you can properly keep track of its shelf life, and make appropriate, safe choices with regards to its use.