Ohio ranks 15th nationally in chicken production (in poundage) with 338 million pounds. The total value of chickens produced in Ohio in 2008 was 147.5 million.
About chicken safety and chicken handling
Chicken, like all fresh meats, is perishable and should be handled with care to maintain top quality. Here are some basic things to remember:
Buying and storing chicken safely
- When you're out, grocery shop last. Never leave chicken in a hot car. Refrigerate immediately on reaching home to help maintain the highest quality.
- Refrigerate raw chicken promptly; never leave it on the countertop at room temperature.
- Packaged fresh chicken can be refrigerated in original wrappings in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
- Cooked, cut-up chicken is at its best refrigerated for no longer than two days; whole cooked chicken, an additional day.
- If chicken is stuffed, remove stuffing to a separate container before refrigerating.
- Freeze uncooked chicken if it is not to be used within two days.
- If chicken parts are wrapped separately in foil before freezing, it is easier to select just the right number and kind of parts for a single meal. Plastic sandwich bags are also good for holding a single chicken part; then gather the individual parts together in a larger plastic freezer bag or wrap in heavy duty foil and label before freezing. Be sure to press air out of package before sealing.
- Cooked chicken should be prepared for freezing the same way except when made with sauce or gravy. Then it's best to pack in a rigid container with a secure, tight-fitting lid. Keep frozen until time to thaw or cook.
- Thaw chicken in the refrigerator (not on the countertop) or in cold water. It takes approximately 24 hours to thaw a four pound chicken in the refrigerator; cut-up parts, 3-9 hours.
- Chicken may also be safely thawed in cold water. Place chicken in its original wrap or watertight plastic bag in cold water; change water often. It takes about 2 hours to thaw a whole chicken.
- For quick thawing of chicken (raw or cooked), use the microwave. Thawing time varies according to form in which chicken is frozen (whole or parts; number of parts frozen together). Use defrost or medium-low setting. Microwave 2 minutes; let stand 2 minutes. Repeat if needed. Turn chicken and separate parts as it thaws, taking care that it does not begin to cook. Defrosted chicken feels soft and moist and is cold but not hard and stiff.
- It is not recommended that either cooked or uncooked chicken be refrozen once it has been thawed. If improperly stored or handled, quality can be affected.
- Always cook chicken well-done, not medium or rare. If using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should reach 180°F for chicken with bone in; 170°F for bone-in parts and 160°F for boneless parts.
- To check visually for doneness without use of a thermometer, pierce chicken with fork; juices should run clear when fork is inserted with ease.
- Never leave chicken at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If not eaten immediately, cooked chicken should be kept either hot (between 140°F and 165°F) or refrigerated at 40°F or less.
- If cooked chicken is to be transported to a picnic or other dining site, place in an insulated container or ice chest until ready to eat. Keep chicken below 40°F or above 140°F.
- When barbecuing chicken outdoors, keep refrigerated until ready to cook. Do not place cooked chicken on same plate used to transport raw chicken to grill.
- Always wash hands, countertops, cutting boards, knives and other utensils used in preparing raw chicken before they come in contact with other raw or cooked foods.
- If leftovers are to be reheated, cover to retain moisture and to ensure that chicken is heated all the way through. Bring gravies to a rolling boil before serving.