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Chili is an incredibly delicious dish and can be a lot of fun to make. Although I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that homemade chili can leave you with far more leftovers than you know what to do with. Canned chili can also be too much for a single meal but there is no point in throwing it when instead you could store it. People are apprehensive to store certain foods in the fridge out of fear of food poisoning. However, as long as you do it right, leftover chili can be safely stored in the fridge.
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What Is Chili?
Chili is technically the shortened name of a dish known as chili con carne. Despite being spelled the same, chili is not to be confused with chili, the hot, spicy pepper. Chili is a Tex-Mex dish that roughly translates to ‘chili with meat’. In this case, that means it is a spicy stew that has chili peppers in it, whether that be fresh or powdered, and meat such as beef, tomatoes, and kidney beans. There may be other seasonings used in this dish such as onions, chili powder, garlic, cumin, and paprika.
While the dish may be synonymous with meat, vegetarian chili is incredibly popular and tastes almost exactly the same due to the seasonings in both variations being so strong. The dish is so simple to make that homemade chili is a regular recipe to see in almost anyone’s repertoire. Although, canned chili also has its merits and can be a nice simple meal at the end of a long hard day.
How Long Does Chili Last In The Fridge?
Whether you have leftover homemade chili or some chili from a can, you have to store it otherwise it will go bad. To store leftover chili, it is easiest to place it in the fridge. It can last between 3 and 4 days in the fridge without any harm. After this, you would be advised to discard it as bacteria may have accumulated to a level that is potentially harmful.
Canned chili is made with preservation in mind, which means it has preservatives in it. These affect the way the chili will age, so it can be safely stored in the fridge for up to a week without going bad.
How To Properly Store Chili In The Fridge
To minimize the risk of food poisoning, and gone off chili, it is essential that you store it properly in the fridge. Surprisingly, there is more to it than just placing the food in the fridge and forgetting about it.
To ensure the food is safe to go in the fridge, wait for it to be at room temperature. When warm food enters a climate as cold as the fridge, it makes a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Allow your chili to rest on a counter for up to two hours for it to cool down. The chili should not be left there for more than two hours as this puts you at risk due to the growth of bacteria in that timeframe.
Another barrier of protection you should always use when storing food in the fridge is an airtight container or Ziploc bag. Minimizing the contact your food has with fresh air is ideal for prolonging its shelf life. Airtight containers and Ziploc bags are insanely helpful when it comes to storing food. The process of keeping the food in an airtight container is a large part of why canned food is preserved so well.
Storing Chili In The Freezer
If the 3-4 days you have to eat your chili is not enough, you may be thinking about some longer-term storage methods. The best method for long-term storage is freezing your food.
Freezing cooked chili is easy and can keep it safe and fresh for 4-6 months if kept in the right conditions. Temperatures below zero will either halt the growth of bacteria or kill the bacteria entirely. This means that your food will be fresh when you take it out of the freezer, and will have no bacteria on it to worry about.
The main thought to keep in mind when freezing chili is that it is a bit of a hassle to eat afterward as you have to thaw it and heat it up. This is not a big deal but it is recommended you separate your leftover chili into portions so that you can thaw what you need for a meal and nothing extra, as it should not be refrozen after being thawed.
Freezer burn is a slight issue when freezing food. To counter this, store your chili in freezer bags or in a freezer-safe airtight container.
How To Tell If Chili Has Gone Bad
While chili might be one of the best cold-weather dishes in existence, you do not want to eat expired chili no matter how cold it is outside. Spoiled chili may be hard to notice due to the strong smell of all the spices, so there are a few ways you can see if your chili is expired or not.
While it may last in the fridge for a while, it is very easy to accidentally leave it in there for a bit too long. You might still want to eat the chili, we’ve all been there, but closely inspect it first and make sure it is not spoiled. If properly stored, the chili should not be bad even a day or two after you should have discarded it.
When smelling the chili, try and sense a foul odor of sorts. Anything sweet with a sour tint may indicate that it is gone off. Alongside how it smells, if your chili looks off in any way such as growing mold, or looking different from how it should throw it away.
How To Tell If Canned Chili Is Bad
There’s nothing to be ashamed about if you eat canned chili, it is simply too quick and easy to make that it is impossible to say no to. While it may be canned food, it can still spoil just the same as any other food.
To tell if your canned chili is not safe to eat, it is best to first check the can. If you have not opened the can yourself, but it smells bad, check the can for any damage or piercing. If the airtight seal on the can is broken before you have used it, throw it away. Sometimes cans can be damaged or accidentally partially opened. This allows fresh air into the can which will begin to spread bacteria that will grow.
If the canned chili is opened by you, cooked, and now leftover, you can safely store it for a week in the fridge or for a few months in the freezer. When taking it out of the fridge, if you have left it there for more than a week it is recommended you check it to see if it is spoiled or not.
Smell the chili and try to see if there are any sour smells coming from it, or anything that just smells bad. Odor is the easiest way to tell if something has gone off as bacteria will almost always create a scent that is unpleasant. If there are no signs of a bad smell, or you are having trouble smelling, you can always take a look at your chili.
If the physical appearance of the chili has changed at all in a way that is not normal, then throw it away. This includes if the chili is covered in mold or has fuzzy patches on it.
Homemade Or Canned; Chili Still Has To Be Stored Properly
While the chili shelf life is not too long, it is still worth storing any leftover chili instead of throwing it away. Even if you do not want it on its own again, you could make a chili sandwich or wrap it with the leftovers. Similar to a lot of cooked food, chili can be stored in the fridge for a few days or frozen for a few months, as long as you take care when storing it; you should be safe to eat it when you come to take it out. If you are planning on using your leftover chili, you can always look at some of the best options to pair with chili, so that you can have a perfect meal.
FAQs On Storing Chili
Is chili good after 7 days?
Chili that is homemade is only good for 3-4 days if stored in the fridge. Canned chili can last for 7 days in the fridge, but anything past that is not advisable to eat.
Can I eat 2-week-old chili?
Unless the chili has been stored in the freezer, you should not eat chili that is 2-weeks-old. Even canned chili only lasts a week in the fridge before it starts to go bad. It is heavily recommended that you do not eat chili over a week old.
How long can I keep homemade chili in the fridge?
Homemade chili can last from 3 to 4 days in the fridge before it will start to go off. Canned chili lasts longer than this as it is filled with preservatives that allow it to survive for up to a week in the fridge.