When it comes to seafood, mussels are usually one of the most popular seafood eaten. They can be eaten fresh, cooked, or used to make a delicious dish. Mussels are like other seafood when it comes to shelf life. They tend to not last very long once they are harvested from the water. In the stores, they are usually packaged together in a net bag and laid on ice.
Therefore, after buying them, you face the option of having to cook all of the mussels right away or storing some of them for later use. If you want to store them for a long time, the fridge is usually not a good idea. But what about the freezer?
So can you freeze mussels? Mussels can be frozen and stored in the freezer. These mollusks actually freeze very well and can last up to 6 months. However, you need to properly prepare them first in order for them to reach their full shelf life.
In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about freezing mussels. whether it’s cooked or uncooked, the safest way to properly prepare them for the freezer. Upon thawing, how to handle them and protect yourself from getting sick.
Can You Freeze Mussels?
Mussels can be frozen, but it needs to be prepared correctly in order for it to retain their flavor and texture. Like any other food stored in the freezer, over time, the texture and flavor will change due to freezer burn.
Cooked mussels can be frozen and it’ll freeze fairly well. However, you’ll need to prepare them before freezing them. Just putting the mussels into plastic bags and throwing them into the freezer will not cut it. You’ll end up with mussels that will not taste good and possibly could get you sick from food poisoning as well.
Fresh or raw mussels can be frozen as well. Fresh mussels need to be frozen as soon as possible to prevent contamination. Containment could lead to bacterial growth in the mussels.
Therefore, before purchasing mussels you’ll need to carefully plan on what you’ll be using mussels for. They can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days before freezing them.
Does Mussels Freeze Well?
Mussels do freeze very well which makes them great for storing long term. You can either freeze them cooked or uncooked. Both will freeze and retain their freshness, but how long they’ll stay fresh will depend on other factors. Some of the factors are the freezer’s temperature and whether it’s freshwater or saltwater mussels.
As for the temperature, if the freezer is at a constant 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the mussels will last for a very long time. On the other hand, if the temperature fluctuates often, the mussels will not last very long. As the door of the freezer opens, warm air rush in and thaws the mussels a bit. If the door is left open for an extended period of time, it could actually damage the mussels.
Therefore, it’s important to keep the door of the freezer closed as much as possible.
Saltwater mussels tend to freeze better and last longer in the freezer than freshwater mussels. This is due to the salt content in the flesh of the mussels. The salt actually helps preserve the flavor and texture of the mussels.
How Long Can You Freeze Mussels?
Fresh mussels can be frozen and remain fresh for up to 6 months. After that, the mussels will still be safe to eat, but the quality will decrease. Like any other food, storing mussels in the freezer too long will cause them to get freezer burn. This will cause the taste and texture of the mussels to deteriorate.
Cooked mussels, on the other hand, will stay fresh for up to 3 months. Since the mussels are cooked, the flesh doesn’t contain much water. Water helps keeps the flavor intact and holds the texture of the mussels since water freezes really well. Therefore, without liquid, cooked mussels won’t last the longer 3 months.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t eat them. After 3 months, the quality will start to deteriorate so it won’t be as fresh as when you bought it.
How to Freeze Mussels
If you’re planning to store mussels for the long term, storing them in the freezer is the best option. You can either freeze the mussels fresh or cooked. The only difference between the two options is their shelf life. Cooked mussels will last up to 6 months while fresh mussels will last only 3 months.
However, it’ll last longer but the quality of the mussels will deteriorate.
Freezing Fresh Mussels
When it comes to freezing fresh mussels, it’s important to freeze them as soon as possible after purchasing them. Freezing fresh mussels should be done within 2 days. The longer it takes to freeze them, the chances the quality of the mussels will decrease.
Here’s how to freeze fresh mussels:
- Place the mussels in a strainer basket and run them under cold water. This is to remove debris and other contaminants from them.
- Look through each mussel and discard any that have broken shells or if any is opened. An opened shell means the mussels are dead.
- Dry each mussel by patting them with a dry cloth or paper towel.
- In a heavy-duty freezer bag, place the mussels in the bag.
- Leave about an inch of space at the top of the bag so you can zip the bag.
- Squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag and seal it.
- Label and date the bag.
- Place the mussels into the back part of the freezer.
Fresh mussels will be killed as they are frozen in the freezer. They will remain fresh for up to 3 months.
Freezing Cooked Mussels
There are many different ways of cooking mussels, but we’re not going to be covering them in this article.
If you’ve cooked some mussels already and need to store them for the long term, freezing them is the best option.
Here is how to freeze cooked mussels:
- Make sure the cooked mussels have cooled down first.
- Place the mussels into an aluminum foil and wrap them completely. This will prevent the mussels from getting freezer burned.
- Put the wrapped mussels into an airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag.
- Seal the airtight container as tight as possible. If you’re using freezer bags, make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing it.
- Label and date the packaging.
- Place the cooked mussels at the far end of the freezer.
Cooked mussels stored in the freezer will stay fresh for up to 6 months.
How Do You Defrost Mussels?
Whether the mussels are cooked or fresh, transfer the entire container of the mussels from the freezer to the fridge.
It’s recommended to leave them overnight to thaw. This is to let the mussels thaw slowly to reduce the change in texture flavor.
After they thaw, the mussels can remain in the fridge for up to 2 days. However, it’s best to cook them as soon as they thaw for the best taste.
Additionally, once the mussels completely thaw, never put refreeze them. Doing so will damage the flesh of the mussels and you’ll end up with a soggy and tasteless mussel.
If you need to use frozen mussels quickly, simply take them from the freezer and place the entire container or plastic bag of mussels in cold water. Doing so, the mussels should thaw within an hour or so.
Never place them in hot water as it can cook the mussels prematurely which will damage the texture and flavor.
However, if you’re going to use frozen mussels in soups or stir-fry, they won’t need to be thawed. Simply place the frozen mussels into the soup or stir-fry while it’s being cooked.
Using Frozen Mussels
As with any other seafood, mussels go bad really quickly and that is a bad thing. It attracts bacteria and the hotter it is, the faster the bacteria will multiply. Therefore, it’s important you know how to handle mussels appropriately, especially raw mussels.
Most importantly of all is to keep mussels cold. The colder it is, the lesser chance of bacteria growth happening.
There are a lot of things you can do with frozen mussels. Some people like to eat them fresh which goes great with a glass of beer or wine. Others like to cook them with their favorite seasoning sauce and other ingredients.
Besides eating mussels fresh, these mollusks are great for making different types of dishes. Some you may have heard of and some you may not, but anything that involves the use of mussels is always going to be delicious.
Here are some of the delicious entrees you can use mussels with:
- Beer and Bacon Mussels
Mussels and Chorizo Pappardelle
Sweet Potato Curry with Mussels
Stewed Cod a la Spaniard’s Bay
Michael’s Beer Steamed Mussels
Thai Red curry mussels
Fried mussel rolls
Mussel and tomato chowder
Miso mussels recipe
As you can see, there are many entrees you can make with mussels. This mollusk is perfect for making the above entrees and other foods as well.
How Long Does Mussels Last?
As with most kinds of seafood, especially when they are raw, bacteria growth will happen quickly. This is the reason why seafood should always be stored on ice, in the fridge, or in the freezer. Otherwise, if they are just laying on the countertop at room temperature, you’ll find yourself sick from food poisoning due to bad mussels.
At room temperature, raw mussels will no longer than 2 hours. Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F. Therefore, raw muscles that are left out longer than 2 hours should be discarded right away.
As for cooked mussels, they can stay fresh for up to 4 hours. Afterward, you’ll either have to store them in the fridge or discard them.
In the fridge, raw mussels will last for 1-3 days. This depends if the mussels bought are alive or dead. If it’s alive, it can last up to 3 days.
When storing raw mussels in the fridge, store them in an open container and cover them with damp cloths or paper towels. This will prevent the mussels from drying out.
On the other hand, if it’s dead, it may last only a day or so. When mussels die, they tend to go bad really quickly.
As for cooked mussels, they will remain fresh for 3 to 4 days. They should always be stored in an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag. It helps preserves the taste and flavor while preventing the mussels from drying out.
If you want to learn more about storing mussels, I highly recommend you watch the video below from Kenmore.
What are the different types of mussels?
Blue mussel, California mussel, Charru mussel, Freshwater pearl mussel, Mediterranean mussel, Perna Canaliculus, and Zebra mussel. When buying them at the grocery stores, you’ll mostly see the Mediterranean mussels or Blue mussels.
Can You Eat Dead Mussels?
To be on the safe side, you should not eat mussels that are dead. Dead mussels will usually have bacteria growing on them already, especially if they are left at room temperature. Eating dead mussels lead to a high risk of food poisoning. Therefore, it’s better to be safe and not consume any dead mussels.