Can You Freeze Shellfish?

Shellfish is one of the most popular foods to eat around the world. Millions of people enjoy eating them each year. With shellfish, they tend to go bad quickly if it’s not handled. Worse of all, it could cause food poisoning. Once shellfish are harvested, they’ll need to be either eaten right away or properly stored. Would freezing shellfish be an option?

Can you freeze shellfish? Yes, you can freeze shellfish, either cooked or uncooked. Most shellfish will last for about 2 to 3 months in the freezer. Shellfish is highly perishable and proper handling is necessary to avoid food poisoning.

Does Shellfish Freeze Well?

Yes, most types of shellfish freeze well. To ensure they are of their best quality, you’ll need to freeze them as soon as possible. This means if you harvest the shellfish yourself, keep them alive until you get home. Then freeze them right away.

Once shellfish die, they start to go bad quickly and get contaminated with bacteria.

For most types of shellfish such as clam, mussels, crabs, and oysters, you’ll want to freeze them in their shell. The shell helps retain the texture and prevents the cold temperature from damaging the flesh.

Can You Freeze Cooked Shellfish?

Yes, you can freeze cooked shellfish. Freezing shellfish that is cooked will freeze better.

When shellfish is cooked, the flesh has compacted and not much moisture is in there. This will result in the texture of the shellfish not being affected much.

When freezing cooked shellfish, proper handling is necessary. When the shellfish are cooked, they can be contaminated with bacteria if it’s left at room temperature for too long.

Therefore, once the shellfish is cooked, freeze them immediately after it has cooled down. The longer you wait to freeze them, the higher the chances of the shellfish having bacteria grow on them.

How To Freeze Cooked Shellfish

1. Cool Down

Allow the shellfish to cool down to room temperature. This is important as you don’t want to freeze them while it’s warm or hot. There are two reasons for that.

The first reason, it will promote bacteria growth while it’s freezing. If bacteria grow on the shellfish, it could cause food poisoning when it thaws.

The second reason, it will cause condensation when the shellfish are freezing. The moisture will damage the shellfish, which will usually cause them to become mushy.

2. Wrapping

Once it’s cooled down, start by wrapping the shellfish in aluminum foil. This will give it extra protection from the freezing temperature.

3. Storing In Container

When storing shellfish, you can either use an airtight container or freezer bag. Both work well to keep the shellfish fresh in the freezer.

Place the wrapped shellfish into an airtight container or freezer bag.

For an airtight container, check the seal around the lid to make sure there are no leaks. If not, secure the lid to the container tightly.

For freezer bag use, press on the bag to remove any excess air from it before sealing the bag tight.

3. Label and Freezing

Label the container or bag with the date of packaging. Then simply put the shellfish into the freezer for storage.

Can You Freeze Uncooked Shellfish?

Yes, you can freeze uncooked shellfish. Proper handling is needed to prevent bacteria contamination.

If you’re planning to freeze uncooked shellfish, it’s recommended to always buy them fresh. The longer the shellfish have been dead, the higher the chance that the quality has deteriorated.

Also, you’re risking the chance the shellfish will be contaminated with bacteria.

How To Freeze Uncooked Shellfish

1. Cleaning

Start by cleaning the shellfish. For clams, mussels, and oysters, check to make sure it’s fresh. Their shell should not be open. If it is, the shellfish is bad and should be discarded.

For clams, you may want to place them in water with rice for about 5 hours. This will help the clams spit out the sands.

For lobster, crabs, check to see if they smell rotten. Fresh shellfish should not have any smell to it. It’s best to buy or harvest the shellfish when it’s alive. That way, you won’t need to worry about it going bad before freezing them.

Run the shellfish under cool water to clean any dirt, sand, and other debris.

2. Dry Them

After cleaning the shellfish, use a paper towel to dry them. Simply gently press on the shellfish to remove any excess moisture. The drier the shellfish is, the better it will freeze. Also, it prevents the shellfish from sticking to each other during freezing.

3. Store in Container

Place the fresh shellfish into an airtight container or freezer bag.

For larger shellfish like lobsters and Dungeness crabs, it’s recommended to use a freezer bag.

If using an airtight container to store shellfish, check the seal around the lid to make sure there are no leaks. If not, secure the lid to the container tightly.

Using a freezer bag, press on the bag to remove as much air as you can. Then seal the bag tightly.

4. Label and Freeze

With a marker, label the bag or container with the date of freezing. Then place them into the freezer for storage.

How Long Can You Freeze Shellfish?

Shellfish differ in how long they last in the freezer, but most will last anywhere between 2 and 3 months. After that time, shellfish will still be safe to eat, but the quality of it will deteriorate.

Whether it’s cooked or uncooked, avoid them from exposing to the cool air. If air gets to the shellfish, it will cause freezer burn.

How Do You Defrost Shellfish?

When it comes to defrosting shellfish, you’ll need to be very careful with it. Not handling them properly could cause food poisoning.

The recommended method to thaw shellfish is to place them into the fridge. Allowing them to thaw in the fridge will prevent bacteria growth. Also, it will help the shellfish thaw evenly throughout.

Once it’s thawed, never leave them out at room temperature. If you’re not ready to use them for cooking yet, leave them in the fridge.

Can You Refreeze Shellfish?

If the shellfish have not thawed completely, and it’s still in the fridge, you can refreeze them.

Once the shellfish are completely thawed, you should not refreeze them. Shellfish is highly perishable and it spoils quickly. If the shellfish are contaminated with bacteria, freezing it will not kill the bacteria.

Once it thaws again, not only will the texture of the shellfish be damaged, but you risk getting food poisoning as well.

To avoid having to refreeze shellfish, you should freeze them in portions. This way, you will only need to remove the amount of shellfish you need without having any leftovers.

Related Questions

Can you freeze shellfish stock?

Yes, you can freeze shellfish stock. Like most stocks, you have two different options for freezing them.

The first option is to freeze the shellfish stock in a freezer bag or an airtight container. This is the quickest method, but it also takes up a lot of space in the freezer.

The second option is to reduce the stock down and create a strong stock concentrate. This allows you to freeze shellfish stock in cubes using an ice cube tray. Once you’re ready to use it, simply remove it from the freezer and add it directly to the meal while it’s cooking.