Chili is one of those cold-weather dishes that is often made in large amounts. The large quantities mean that unless you are feeding a huge group of people, some of it will most likely end up in the refrigerator. Refrigeration is the most efficient way to extend the shelf life of food safely. Many people claim that chili actually tastes better after it has been stored overnight, but no food lasts forever. How long does chili last in the fridge really? The answer depends on several things, but your chili should last at least four days in your refrigerator if you take the correct steps to store it. Here are the steps:
Make sure that it is properly cooked
E. coli bacteria can grow in ground beef and once you have rehydrated beans, they can harbor bacteria as well. To kill any bacteria that might be present in your chili, you will need to get it up to the right temperature before you even think about storing it in your refrigerator. Chili should cook for an extended period and reach a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. E. coli is killed at 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
Store chili in the refrigerator promptly
How long after cooking you wait before storing chili in the fridge has a big impact on its shelf life. The time that your chili is left at room temperature is the prime window for bacterial growth.
Bacteria grow fastest in the temperature range between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The 40- to 140-degree range is sometimes referred to as the danger zone in the context of food safety. The faster you get your chili from 140 or above to below 40 degrees, the longer it will last in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that if your chili remains at room temperature for too long, it can make you sick.
Pay attention to your ingredients
Chili that consists of beans only will last a day or two longer than a meat-based chili. It should keep for four or five days. Note that chili with hot peppers like jalapeños may taste hotter than when you first stored it. The refrigerator will keep the ingredients, and simultaneously the ingredients will meld more together. It makes the eating experience just a bit hotter typically.
Use proper storage containers
Experts recommend that chili be out of the refrigerator for no longer than two hours after it is removed from the heat. You will need to cover it since chili that is kept uncovered is exposed to airborne bacteria. That shortens how long it lasts in your refrigerator. You should only store chili in the fridge in airtight containers that lock tightly.
You can extend your chili’s usable life a lot longer by storing it in the freezer and keeping it frozen. It will be at its best quality if you use it within six months, but it will still be safe long after that.
You should freeze your chili in airtight resealable bags to ensure that they remain at their best quality. To thaw it safely, keep chili in your refrigerator overnight to ensure that the parts that thaw first don’t get too warm and spur bacterial growth.
To reheat, place it in the microwave or on the stovetop and bring to a boil immediately before eating it.