Freezer Life - Homemade Chili

Everything I have seen online says fresh chili that has been frozen will last 4 to 6 months. Pretty sure the pints I have in the freezer are older than that.

How can I determine if it is still safe to eat?

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As with most cooked “stews”, it’ll last longer than 6 months. Defrost a pack and smell it. If it smells fine, it should be fine.


Many potential bacteria spoil food in a way that it doesn’t smell “bad”. Just smelling tends to be bad indicator.

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So are you saying just toss it?

Agree with @Harters that if you detect any off odors, that is definitive. Also, according to this food safety chart from the US FDA, the chili in your freezer should be safe indefinitely if reliably stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. More likely the taste and/or texture of the chili could have suffered in long storage, which defrosting will reveal.


This. Generally speaking, properly frozen food doesn’t “spoil” in the sense that it will make you sick if you eat it. It just degrades in terms of texture, flavor or both.


Depends how long they might be in the fridge - 7 months is quite different to 18 months. In addition, it also depends how you tend to cool down food/chili. If you keep it out for long time at RT to slowly cool down over a few hours you have it quite long in the “danger zone” for bacterial growth and I would toss it

I’ve managed to reach 71 without a problem.

I suspect cultural attitudes may also come into play. From reading threads here and on other boards, I’m aware that Americans seem to be much more concerned about the potential for food safety issues than we Europeans.


I am not American but European. As a scientist I just care more about the science behind anything than following “traditions” which are often not based on anything evidence based

Traditions are rarely evidence based, in my experience. We probably need more scientists to inform and guide us.

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I make my chili in a crockpot. Once I serve it up, I put the ceramic liner in a small bar sink full of cold water. After it has cooled I freeze pints in plastic, screw-top Talenti ice cream containers.

To heat from frozen, I loosen the screw top and microwave just long enough to be able to extract the frozen cylinder into a saucepan and quickly bring to a simmer (breaking it up with a wooden spoon).

I didn’t label this last batch, but I would say it has been 9-12 months.

If you cool it down in cold water you have it relatively short period of time in the potentially dangerous temperature zone and it should be fine to eat. As other mentioned the flavor and especially the consistency might suffer a bit (it tends to get a bit mushier and soft)


@ScottinPollock you are way more methodical than I am with regards to freezing food. And to paraphrase @Harters it hasn’t killed me or my (American) family yet. We’re quite lax when it comes to expiration dates, etc., that many Americans seem to be fixated on.

For those of you who receive a dinner invitation from me, you have been duly warned. :wink:


I’m not sure what the particular bacteria or their toxins might be, but you are suggesting freezing would not “kill” them, and nor would re-boiling?

I have always had flavor and texture concerns about freezing SOME foods, but chili without beans is not usually one of them.

OTOH I am getting more and more wary of my immediate and extended families history of leaving food at room temperature and eating cooked food after extended periods in the refrigerator.

It is well known that freezing doesn’t kill bacteria - most of them survive easily at those temperatures. The problem with reheating is that many people are using microwaves which don’t heat food very consistently but generate many hot and cold spots so that you might actually not really heat up your food hot enough to kill potential bacteria (in addition some bacteria and/or toxins are surprisingly resistent to heat or must be heat for quite longer time to eliminate)


Thank you. I suppose if it is well known, I should known, but didn’t recall. I guess when I used quotes I was thinking there might be another way freezing was useful. I just looked it up, and it’s freezing at 0 f can “inactivate” them.

When I think of chili, I’m thinking E. Coli. Are there others that might be common in chili?

I’ve eaten frozen stuff that’s been in there much longer than that… properly reheated, always.

As others have said, texture and flavor may suffer.

Sometimes you can fix that with some additional seasoning. Sometimes it’s not worth the salvage.

Try one and see where it falls.

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I think freezing is effective to kill parasites in fish (if I remember correctly all fish sold in the US is previously frozen)
There are so many bacteria around us (and most of them quite harmless) that I would have to read more about others besides e, coli, salmonella, staph and noro (particular the last one is nasty based on own experience)

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I didn’t know about the microwave issue…

I tend to think staph for human skin, salmonella for chicken, and yeah, lots of harmless or even helpful ones. I believe noro is a virus. Brrrrrrrrr. Let’s not get started on viruses!