I bought a whole chicken for dinner two days ago. Immediately after quartering it, I put it back into a zip-top bag and put it in the bottom of the fridge. So, roughly around 40 hours ago.

I'd like to make stock with it today. And insight on whether or not I should move forward?


2 Answers 2


If your quartering of the chicken was done quickly then you are just asking how long you can keep a chicken in the fridge.

How long will uncooked chicken keep in the fridge?

Your 40 hours is fine.

  • 5
    Don't forget that you can freeze a carcass too, which keeps until it starts to lose its moisture (4-6 months). I often wait until I have a few carcasses, extra veg, and an afternoon off to make my stocks. May 27, 2011 at 20:27

There are two angles to this:

How long before it makes stock taste bad? Smell is a good cue here, but I have made stock even with meat and bones that smell a bit "off." No bad flavor or smell was noticeable in the soup/stew.

How long before it is unsafe? The long periods of high temperature involved in making stock will kill any germs. I have used old meat for this purpose and had no nausea or diarrhea afterwards (the usual signs of food poisoning). At high levels of decay where you notice a rotting or putrescent smell there may be some unhealthy compounds created that are not destroyed by cooking, but I am sure the smell taste will be so bad in that case, that it would be difficult even to swallow.

At normal refrigeration temperatures, it takes much much longer than 40 hours to reach either of these thresholds.

  • 2
    Obviously I agreed with your conclusions in this case but, on safety: 1- toxins produced by bacteria won't be broken down by boiling and 2- active toxin producing bacteria aren't always detectable by sight or smell. May 27, 2011 at 18:55
  • Thanks for the clarification. This is something I would like to learn more about. Through unrefrigerated human history how did people judge meat safety? What drying/preserving/fermenting practices reliably make old meat safe to eat? What are the adaptations that allow other (ie nonhuman) carnivores to safely eat uncooked unrefrigerated meat?
    – J. Win.
    May 30, 2011 at 23:27
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    J. Winchester- I'm not an expert of culinary anthropology but it might be useful to remember that people didn't always eat food safely. They died. A lot. And from what I have read raw meat is more dangerous now with industrialized farming. May 31, 2011 at 12:52
  • 2
    Unfortunately it is difficult to judge historical rates and types of food poisoning. I imagine there was less chance of dying from undetectable killers like botulin and salmonella. I have heard for example food poisoning rates in Inuit traditional diets increased once they started sealing their fermenting meat in plastic vs burying in the tundra.
    – J. Win.
    May 31, 2011 at 20:07

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