So, you have already brined the chicken and now suddenly you realize you have other things to do and maybe cook the chicken some other day!
THIS happens to me more often than one might think and I was always worried if I can freeze chicken after brining it because let’s face it, it does come with a lot of questions.
Will the chicken go too mushy if you freeze it after brining?
Well, actually chicken can last for a really good number of months if brined and then frozen in the freezer but is it the way to go?
Can you Freeze Brined Chicken?
When you thaw frozen chicken, it loses a lot of moisture and it is said that the loss of moisture content is less when you freeze brined the chicken and then thaw it.
During the brining process, the meat tends to get softer so it is great to brine chicken before you cook it.
But if you decide to freeze a brined full chicken or even chicken pieces then you can do that just know how long it will last in the freezer.
During brining, the brine breaks the cellular structure of the chicken and replaces it with brine solution.
When frozen, the water crystallizes and it can tear the chicken on a cellular level when kept for a longer time making it mushy and useless after a while.
It is difficult to say if a frozen chicken has gone bad or not. Be careful on how long you freeze your brined chicken meat and hence I recommend reading this entire post till the end.
Salting chicken before freezing(Can you freeze meat after salting)
Cook’s Illustrated had this excellent experiment which calculated the water loss in the chicken before and after freezing where it said that a regular frozen chicken lost 22 percent moisture after being frozen.
While a brined and then frozen chicken lost 15 percent of total moisture and a chicken with just salting and then frozen lost about 11 percent of the moisture.
This will make anyone curious about how does salting chicken before freezing help? and should one replace brining with salting and then freezing the chicken.
In my opinion, salting is a better option compared to brining a chicken and then freezing it. Salting is less messy and it keeps most of the moisture locked in the chicken.
Can I Marinate Chicken After Brining?
Yes, chicken can be marinated even after brining. One important note to remember is not to put salt anymore on the marinade as the brine would have already put it on the chicken.
Most brines are made with salt so the chicken should have absorbed the needed salt there. Seasoning or marinating the chicken with herbs and spices is a great way to add more flavors.
Wet marinades that have low or no salt are great for marinating chicken that has already been brined.
A dried rub with low salt content is excellent to be used. The chicken can stay brined for quite some time so marinating it in a liquid marinade will take a shorter amount of time.
How Long Does Brined Chicken Last?
Brined chicken can last for up to two days in the refrigerator. Once the chicken is in the brine, the salt and water will help preserve the meat before it is processed or cooked.
Before, brine was used to actually preserve meat before refrigeration. That is why chicken will be able to last for quite some time in the brine.
Nowadays, we are using less salt and more spices and herbs on brines but it still does the same job. Brined chicken can last for up to two days in the fridge when stored properly.
Can You Store Chicken After Brining?
You can store chicken after brining as it will keep the texture it has made when it was brined. It will also help preserve the chicken so it is better to store the chicken after it was brined.
It is actually good to store chicken in the refrigerator after brining and before cooking. What it does is it dries the skin of the chicken while it is being stored so it can be seasoned better later on.
The brined chicken should be put in a sealed container or at least a pot that does not leak. When the chicken is stored after brining it, it can last longer in the refrigerator.
When Brining, Do You Refrigerate The Chicken?
Yes, the chicken should be in the refrigerator while it is brining. The main reason behind this is that we need to keep bacteria from entering and developing in the chicken.
Bacteria can easily develop in warm temperatures so keeping the chicken in the fridge while it is brining will help prevent bacteria from further development.
That is also why it is advised never to brine any type of meat in warm water. The fridge will also help in sealing and making sure that no bacteria gets in the brine and the chicken.
During the 12 hours of brining, the chicken should be in the fridge and is left for 30 minutes at room temperature right before it is processed, cooked, or stored in the freezer.
Freezing Chicken Before And After Brining
Freezing chicken after brining it is better than freezing the chicken before the brining process. That way, the chicken will lose about 7% less of the moisture already in it.
When the chicken is brined and frozen, it will only lose about 15% of the moisture in the meat. Compare that to 22% of the moisture lost when the chicken is frozen without brining it first.
However, it begs the question, do you freeze the chicken with the brine? Or do you have to dry it first or remove it from the brine first before putting it in the freezer?
Can You Freeze Chicken With The Brine Water?
No, otherwise the brine will crystalize and make the chicken meat mushy when cooked. It is best to discard the brine first, rinse the chicken, pat it dry, and freeze it afterward.
Freezing the chicken with the brine is risky but it can be done as long as the bag is sealed and freezer burns are prevented, but that can never be sure.
A solution of brine that does not have that much salt will freeze and the small crystals in the brine will shred the meat while it freezes.
This can tear the microfibers in the chicken meat and then make it too soft when thawed. This will result in the chicken being mushy instead of having soft and tender meat.
Can You Freeze Seasoned Raw Chicken?
Yes, in fact, it is best to preserve raw chicken with seasoning in the freezer if it is not going to be cooked anytime soon.
Dry seasonings will hold in the freezer and will not soften the chicken meat to the point that the chicken becomes mushy when cooked.
The marinade is also a great seasoning method that can be frozen with raw chicken meat. When the marinade is frozen, it stops the softening process until the chicken is thawed again.
Remember to squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible when freezing chicken with marinade or seasoning to prevent bacteria from developing.
Once the chicken is thawed completely in the fridge, it should be cooked within 24 hours.
How Long Does Brined Chicken Last In Freezer?
Brined chicken can last for up to a year in the freezer. This is typically true with chicken meat whether it has been brined or not.
There is, however, a change in the texture and flavor of the chicken after 3 months in the freezer so cooking it after a month will keep the overall quality of the chicken.
This rule of thumb goes with a whole chicken but when freezing bits or cuts of chicken, it is best to consume it within 9 months in the freezer after thawing it properly.
How To Defrost Frozen Brined Chicken?
The best way to defrost the brined chicken is to do it in the fridge. It should be done the day before it is going to be cooked to avoid any unnatural processes.
Remove the chicken from the freezer but keep it in the sealed bag that it is in. Place the chicken in the refrigerator and then allow it to thaw in there for 24 hours or overnight.
After 12 hours in the refrigerator, check if the edges have been thawed and then the chicken can be removed from the bag as long as the skin or outer layer is not ripped.
Once the chicken is completely thawed, rinse off the remaining brine and then season it before cooking.
It is best to defrost the chicken in the fridge a day before cooking it to prevent as much bacteria as possible from entering the meat.
Cooking the chicken within the day it has been defrosted is best so it does not lose too much moisture.
The brine should not have been frozen in the first place and should be thrown away right after bringing the chicken.
Can You Freeze And Reuse Brine?
No, it is never safe to reuse brine. Once the brine is used with the chicken, the brine should be thrown away and not be resued.
First, it is not safe to reuse brine as it can cross-contaminate between the types of meat that are brined with it. The blood, protein, and other stuff from the chicken are already in the brine.
The brine will also not have the same quality as the first batch of chicken brined in it would have already absorbed some of the components of the brine so it would not be as effective.
That is why it is best to throw away the brine after brining the chicken with it. If there is leftover brine, it can be stored but it should never be reused.
How Do You Store Leftover Brine?
Brine can be stored in the fridge for as long as you want. A mixture of salt and water will stay fresh or usable in the refrigerator indefinitely.
If there are whole seasonings, it is best to remove or strain them from the brine before storing the brine in the refrigerator.
The brine should also be stored in the refrigerator so that it can last longer. The brine is preferable when it is cold anyway so it is best if it is placed in a container and then in the fridge.