Cockles are a type of shellfish that is popular in both Eastern and Western cooking. These shellfish have a sweet taste that goes well with many different dishes. Like other seafood, cockles are highly perishable and will need to be eaten fresh right away or kept refrigerated. While it’s safe to keep them in the fridge for a couple of days, what if you want to store cockles longer than that? Would storing cockles in the freezer be an option?
Can you freeze cockles? Yes, you can freeze cockles. These shellfish are great for freezing due to their high moisture content. Cockles should only be frozen fresh and not cooked. Cooked cockles will be soft and rubbery when frozen. Like most other shellfish, cockles need to be handled properly to avoid contamination of harmful bacteria.
Can You Freeze Dead Cockles?
It’s not recommended to freeze dead cockles as it could contain harmful bacteria. Like most other seafood, cockles are highly perishable and will go bad quickly once it’s dead. As it starts to spoil, harmful bacteria will start growing on it.
Freezing the shellfish may kill the bacteria, but the problem starts again when you begin to thaw it. Since the cockles are already spoiled, as it thaws, harmful bacteria will start to grow on them almost immediately. Therefore, it’s best to discard dead cockles.
However, if the cockles were fresh when it was bought and it died while in your possession, you may be able to freeze them. Make sure it has died within 30 minutes since you had them alive. Otherwise, it could be contaminated with harmful bacteria.
How Long Can You Freeze Cockles?
Frozen cockles can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. This is the time that it will remain fresh.
After 3 months, frozen cockles can still be consumed but the quality will deteriorate. The texture of the cockle will become soft and mushy. As for the taste, it will lose some of its flavors.
Like other foods, the longer the cockles are stored in the freezer, the greater the chances of them getting freezer burn.
Therefore, for best taste, make sure to use the cockles within 3 months.
How to Freeze Cockles
Cockles need to be prepped properly before freezing them. Otherwise, you’ll end up with bad-tasting cockles when it thaws.
Like any other seafood, proper handling is necessary to avoid the harmful bacteria from infecting the cockles. The cockles should always be kept in the fridge or on ice to avoid contamination.
Purge the cockles
Before freezing the cockles, you’ll need to wash them and purge them thoroughly. This step is necessary to remove sand and other debris that may be in them.
Wash the cockles under running water for about 30 minutes. Then fill a basin with salted water and place the cockles inside.
Let them sit for about 2 hours. Within this time period, the cockles will start to purge sand and other debris from inside their shell.
If the cockles are particularly dirty, it’s recommended to let them sit in the saltwater for about 6 hours. Change the water every 2 hours to prevent the cockles from taking in the debris again.
Whether it’s 2 hours or 6 hours, always keep them in the refrigerator to avoid harmful bacterial growth.
Selecting the Best Cockles
After the cockles have been purged of sand and other debris, you’ll need to select only the best one for freezer storage. Freezing cockles that are dead or of bad quality could ruin the rest of the cockles.
Look for any cockles that have broken shells, the shell that is open, and ones that have algae growing on them. These are usually bad and should be discarded.
If there is a small amount of algae growth, you can simply peel or brush them off the cockles. If there are a lot of algae, some of the algae could get inside the cockles and make them taste bad. If that’s the case, it’s best to throw them out.
After separating the bad cockles from the good ones, you’ll need to cook them. Heat a saucepan over low heat and put the cockles in there. Add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to the pan to keep the cockles from drying out.
Once the shell begins to open, you’re ready to freeze them.
Freezing the Cockles
Remove the cockles from the saucepan and place it into a colander. Leave it to drain for about 10 minutes. Remove the shellfish and place them into an airtight container.
The cockles will remain fresh for 3 months.
How Do You Defrost Cockles?
Defrosting the cockles is really simple. If you’re planning to eat or use it right away, simply remove them from the freezer. Open the package and remove the cockles and place it in a sieve.
Turn on cold water and run the frozen cockles under it for 2-3 minutes. As the water is running through the cockles, gently shake the sieve to stop them from sticking together.
However, if you’re not going to eat or use it right away, place them into a bowl and put it into the refrigerator. Keep refrigerated and consume within 24 hours.
Can You Refreeze Cockles?
Once the cockles have been frozen and thawed, it’s not recommended to refreeze them. During the freezing process, the meat has crystallized and causes damage to the meat.
When the cockles are thawed, the moisture in the cockles will cause the meat to become softer and lose a little of its flavor. When it’s frozen again, the meat will become damaged. The result will be soft and mushy cockles.
Can Frozen Cockles Go Bad?
Yes, frozen cockles can go bad if it’s not properly stored or it has been left to thaw for too long.
Cockles or any food for that matter will suffer freezer burn the longer it’s stored in the freezer. 3 months is usually the time at which it will remain fresh. After that time, the quality of the cockles will start to deteriorate.
Besides the freezer, if the cockles are left to thaw for too long, they too can go bad. Usually, in a couple of hours in the fridge, the cockles will be completely thawed. Or you can run them under cold water to thaw them quicker.
Since cockles are highly perishable, once it’s thawed, the shellfish will start to go bad and could get contaminated.
How To Tell Cockles Has Is Bad
Like clams and other shellfish, cockles do go bad since it’s highly perishable. Below are some of the signs to look out for when cockles are spoiled.
Texture – Cockles that are bad will become mushy and watery. The meat will easily separate from the shell.
Taste – Good quality cockles will have a sweet taste to them. Therefore, when cockles go bad, it will have a sour taste to them.
Smell – When cockles go bad, they will have a rotten fishy smell to it. The smell will be enough to make you turn your head away. Never attempt to eat or cook bad cockles as it will most likely be contaminated with harmful bacteria that could make you sick.
Can you freeze cockles in the shell?
Yes, you can freeze cockles in the shell and it’s recommended that you freeze them this way. By freezing them in the shell, it will help hold it’s structure. Another thing the shell does is prevent the meat from getting damaged by the cold temperature when it’s frozen.
Can you freeze cooked cockles?
Yes, you can freeze cooked cockles, but it’s not recommended to do so. By freezing them, you’ll end up with soft or rubbery meat. This is not something that you want to eat so it’s best to try to consume all the cooked cockles instead of freezing them.
A passionate cook and stay-at-home mom. Since I spend most of the time in the kitchen, keeping the pantry clean and organized is a top priority. Besides being a clean freak, I enjoy gardening, hiking and other activities under the sun.