Whether you forgot about those gumbo leftovers in the back of the fridge or just hosted a party and have half a pot left, below you’ll learn how to prevent your gumbo from spoiling.
I’ve lived in New Orleans since 2000 and have cooked gumbo for my family at least once a month. This post shares everything I’ve learned over the years.
Does Gumbo Spoil While Cooking?
Gumbo does not spoil during the cooking process, even if you keep the heat on simmer for an extended period of time. If you’re new to cooking gumbo and the recipe calls for okra, which is a vegetable with a slimy texture when cooked, sometimes, people confuse the sliminess of the okra as something that has made their gumbo go bad.
For this reason alone, is why my Chicken Gumbo Recipe does not contain okra; I personally dislike the taste and texture and prefer using gumbo file powder for its flavor and thickening properties.
How to Prevent Gumbo From Going Bad
Gumbo, like most chicken-containing soups and stews, can go bad due to the ingredients used, how it’s stored, and due to temperature fluctuations.
Gumbo Ingredient Quality
The quality of the ingredients in your gumbo can affect spoilage. It’s important to properly thaw chicken if using frozen chicken or to ensure that the chicken in the fridge is still good.
If you made gumbo for dinner and you have leftovers, wait for the gumbo to cool down to room temperature for about 30 minutes before refrigerating it or freezing it.
When I make gumbo for a party, I will make it on the stovetop. Then, I’ll transfer it into a slow cooker and keep it on warm, so the gumbo can maintain a constant temperature for up to 6 hours.
How to Store Gumbo
To properly store gumbo for later, let it cool down to room temperature first. This can take longer if you make your gumbo in a cast iron pot since it retains heat very well.
Once cooled, transfer the gumbo leftovers into an airtight container within 2 hours of being cooked.
Tip: if you’re making an entire pot of gumbo for a party a day or two ahead of time, you can remove it from the heat source, let it cool down completely, and store it (in the pot) covered in the refrigerator so you’re ready to heat it up for your guests.
How Long Does Gumbo Stay Good in the Fridge
The USDA recommends storing leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. You should be cautious when eating 3-day-old gumbo if it has seafood in it.
Can Gumbo Be Left Out Overnight?
Gumbo should not be left out overnight whenever possible because once it sits at 130F or lower (lukewarm) for extended periods of time, bacteria can grow and multiply (USDA).
On the rare occasion that it happens, and it’s not a seafood-containing gumbo, you can bring it to a boil and simmer it for 10 minutes to kill any active bacteria –according to Chef Michael Ruhlman.
Can You Freeze Gumbo
Once cooled, divide the gumbo inside zip bags or air-tight containers and freeze it for up to 3 months. While technically it can stay in the freezer much longer, gumbo will lose its quality and taste over time.