How Long Can Clam Chowder Sit Out?

how long can clam chowder sit out
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How Long Can Clam Chowder Sit Out?

Clams are a mild-flavored seafood delicacy and their taste lends itself to various dishes. One of the most iconic in the West is probably clam chowder.

Clam chowder is a type of soup. Its main ingredients are potatoes, onions, salt pork, and of course, clams. While the soup is usually white, you may come across a red version that owes its color to the addition of tomatoes.

The main ingredients are the same but the chowder differs in various regions due to its broth base. Sometimes it is made using a creamy, white base while other recipes favor a spicy tomato-based broth.

A simpler, yet still delicious, version uses a clear broth flavored with clam juice and bacon.

Whatever version you purchase or make, you will need to be particularly careful about how you store it.  How long can clam chowder safely sit out of the fridge for? Various factors determine this and we are going to explore some of them here.

How Long Can Clam Chowder Sit Out?

  1. Room Temperature

The first thing that you must be aware of for food safety is the room temperature. In the hot summer months, we would not recommend leaving clam chowder out at room temperature for more than an hour.

This means that you should remove it from the fridge, heat it to boiling point, serve it immediately, and as soon as the leftovers have cooled, they should be chilled.

In the summer, it is best not to serve clam chowder as part of a buffet where it will need to sit out for an extended time.

During the winter months, although the room will be cooler, clam chowder should not sit out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. Food-borne bacteria start growing at a rapid pace between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and as you can see, this includes room temperature.

Therefore, if your clam chowder was left out at room temperature for anything longer than 2 hours, you should discard it safely by putting it into an airtight container and throwing it into the garbage.

Any food containers or pots it was sitting in should be washed carefully with hot soapy water or put into the dishwasher.

what temperature should leftover clam chowder be reheated to
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  1. Refrigerator

You may think that because you have not left your clam chowder sitting out but have instead stored it in the refrigerator, you can keep it indefinitely. Not true. Refrigeration does not mean that you will be able to keep it for longer than 2-4 days.

In the fridge, clam chowder should be stored in a clean, airtight container. To use it, simply reheat it to boiling point, stirring it. Allow it to bubble for a couple of minutes and it will be safe to eat.

  1. Canned

If your clam chowder is sitting out in sealed cans, it is a different story altogether. The canning process eliminates all bacteria and air from the cans, making them safe to store for a long while.

Provided the cans are sitting out in a cool, dry space such as a pantry or kitchen cupboard, they can be safe for up to 5 years.

However, if the cans are dented, bulging, rusty, or leaking, or in any other way damaged, their contents are not safe to eat and must be discarded at once.

how to improve canned clam chowder
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When to discard?

One of the ways to figure out if you should be discarding the leftover clam chowder and that it might not be safe to consume anymore is to smell it. A bad smell immediately alerts you to the fact that your clam chowder has gone bad.

However, smelling the chowder is not foolproof. Food can still be unsafe to consume and yet not have a smell. The best way to be safe is to consider how long the chowder has sat out. Anything longer than 2 hours is unsafe.

While it may seem wasteful to throw the soup away, it is much less trouble and expense than you or your guests or family ending up in the emergency room with food poisoning. As we always say, “If in doubt, throw it out!”

How to serve chowder if it must sit out?

If you are entertaining and need to leave the chowder out to serve it over the course of a few hours, we suggest putting it in a crockpot or using the “keep warm” function of your pressure cooker.

Alternatively, leave it on the stove with the lid on, simmering on the lowest flame. (Check and stir it every now and again to ensure it doesn’t burn.) These methods will keep the chowder hot enough for it to be out of the ”danger zone” where bacteria multiply.

To conclude

We have answered your question here, “How long can clam chowder sit out”? The answer: ­ “no more than 2 hours” applies to any food containing fish or seafood. Be safe!

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