How To Freeze:
|Whole Fish||Fish Fillets||Smoked Fish||Clams|
|Hardshell Crab||Shucked Oysters||Shucked Mussels||Raw Shrimp||Cooked Shrimp||Scallops|
How to Freeze Fish Fillets
There are several methods that are very effective for freezing fish fillets. There are some fish species that don't freeze very well, and those include bluefish, herring, mackeral and sardines.
- Ice Glazing:
- One method that works really well is to "glaze" the fish in ice first. Put a metal baking pan in your freezer ahead of time and get it nice and cold. Then, dip the fillets in salted water, use about a teaspoon of salt per quart of water, and immediately put those fillets onto the cold baking pan in the freezer. The fish will have an ice glaze on them in less than 5 minutes. Do not leave the pan out of the freezer for any longer than 30 seconds. Repeat this process a couple of times until you have about a 1/4" thick glaze on each fillet. Then put 2 or 3 fillets into a bag and seal it well, removing every bit of air that you can.
Freezing Fish Fillets in Water:
- Rinse the fillets in salted ice water. Fill a zip lock bag with tap water and totally submerge the fillets in the water. Seal the bags and put them in your freezer. The water helps protect the fish from freezer burn and keeps air away from the fillets. Remember, air is the enemy!
- Freezing Fish Fillets Without Water:
- Rinse the fillets in salted ice water. Either place your fillets directly into a zip lock bag or vacuum seal them.
Here's a nice video showing how easy it is to freeze fish fillets.
Length of time fish can stay frozen:
- Lean frozen fish will keep for about 6 months.
- Lean fish: less than 4% fat - cod, sea bass, haddock, snapper, hake, grouper, plaice, John Dory, whiting, sole, sea bream
- Fatty frozen fish will keep for 2-3 months.
- Fatty fish: greater than 4% fat - salmon, tuna, halibut, monkfish, mackerel, red mullet, herring, trout, and eel
- If fish was frozen in the bag, keep it in there during defrosting.
- Thaw fish in the refrigerator - either just leaving the bag on a shelf or placing the bag in a bowl of cold water.
- Do not thaw at room temperature.
- Use it within 1 day of defrosting – the sooner the better!
How to Freeze Smoked Fish
As soon as the fish comes out the smoker you should freeze it. To prevent oxidation, brush the smoked fish with a light salad oil. Air is the enemy here – so either wrap the fish in plastic wrap and then extra layers of freezer paper or foil; or use a zip lock bag and remove as much air as possible. A second zip loc bag on top of the first one is even better – still removing as much air as possible.
How to Freeze Whole Fish
Do NOT freeze whole un-gutted fish. You must gut and scale the fish before freezing. Then simply rinse off the fish and store it in zip lock bags (removing as much air as possible), or vacuum seal it, or follow the "ice glazing" method.
How to Freeze Hardshell Crab
There are many differing opinions about freezing whole crab, starting with whether or not to even do this! Some people believe that the frozen product is so inferior to fresh crab, that it's not even worth the time to freeze them.
Others believe that sometimes a surplus of crab can't be avoided, so it's better to freeze them than to waste them. If you're of that mind, then your choice is to “freeze the whole crab live", "freeze the whole crab after cooking it", "freeze the cleaned and shelled crab bodies", or to only "freeze the crabmeat". No matter the method, there is a consensus that frozen crab, in any form, will last up to about 3 months.
Freezing the cleaned and shelled crab bodies:
- Some people cook the crab first – others do not. If you're going to cook them, it's your choice if you want to boil or steam them. Clean the crab by removing the top shell and then rinsing with cold water. Remove the gills and the stomach and any tomali. Pull off the flap and the mouth and any remaining shell. Split the body in half. You can keep the legs on or off. Put them in ziplock bags. Get all the air out of the bag. Then wrap them in a couple of layers of either newspaper or freezer paper to help preserve them and prevent freezer burn.
- Freezing crabmeat:
- There are three main schools of thought about how to best freeze picked crabmeat.
- Cook the crabs and then extract the meat. Store the meat in airtight containers.
- The milk method – Cook the crabs and then extract the meat. Put the meat into an airtight container and then cover the crabmeat with milk. Some people say 2% and some say to use whole milk. Remove the air and then freeze.
- Flash freezing – Put a baking pan in your freezer and let it get good and cold. Then spread the crabmeat out on that and freeze it. After it's frozen, pack in into an airtight container or ziplock bag with the air removed and put back in the freezer.
How to freeze whole live crabs – cooked or uncooked
- This is NOT the most advised method for freezing crabs. The problem with whole, uncleaned crab is that they still contain undigested food and waste. This can cause bacteria to develop while they're freezing. Most household refrigerators are not capable of quick freezing – hence the possibility of unwanted bacteria growing. Additionally, household freezers tend to be around 25° – and to prevent bacteria growth, a temperature of 0° F is recommended.
However – if you have a flash freezer, this method can work well. You do not need to clean the crab first. To freeze whole live crabs wrap them with freezer paper or newspaper. Place them in a ziplock type bag and remove the air.
When you're ready to eat the crab, it's suggested that instead of conventional refrigerator defrosting, simply throw the frozen whole crab into the steamer.
How To Freeze Shucked Oysters
- Put them in an airtight, freezer quality, container and make sure they are immersed in their own liquor or water. They should be frozen at 0°. F or lower. You should not freeze oysters in the shell.
- Only thaw them out in the refrigerator – never at room temperature. They will take about 24 hours to totally defrost.
- You can keep frozen shucked oysters for anywhere from 3-6 months.
- After defrosting shucked oysters, you should use them within 1 day.
How To Freeze Shucked Mussels
- Mussels must be cooked before you freeze them. Cook them and save the broth you cooked them in. Remove them from their shells and place in an airtight, freezer quality, container. Cover them with the cooking broth and then freeze.
- You can keep frozen shucked mussels for about 3-4 months.
- Defrost them in the refrigerator, never at room temperature.
How To Freeze Shrimp
You can freeze raw or cooked shrimp. To get the most of out shrimp, keep the shell on - it helps maintain the texture and the flavor of the shrimp.
All shrimp should be defrosted in the refrigerator or in ice water. Never thaw at room temperature. Do not re-freeze already frozen shrimp.
How to Freeze Raw Whole Shrimp:
- There are 2 methods that work well for freezing raw shrimp: ice glazing and freezing the shrimp in water.
- Remove the head. Put a metal baking pan in your freezer ahead of time and get it nice and cold. Then, dip the shrimp in very cold salted water and immediately put them onto the cold baking pan in the freezer. The shrimp will have an ice glaze on them in less than 5 minutes. Repeat this process a couple of times until you have about a 1/4” thick glaze on each shrimp. Then put as much shrimp as you will want for a meal into a bag and seal it well, removing every bit of air that you can.
- Shrimp can be frozen in water, which will help prevent freezer burn. Rinse the shrimp under cold water and drain. Remove the head. You can remove the back vein, or leave it. Cover the shrimp with water and store in an air tight container or a zip lock bag. Store for up to 6 months.
Freezing Shrimp in Water:
How to Freeze Cooked Shrimp:
- If the heads are still on the shrimp, remove them. You can remove the vein along the back or not - your choice. Chill the shrimp by putting them in a bowl of ice water. Put a metal baking pan in your freezer ahead of time and get it nice and cold. Place the shrimp on a baking pan in a single layer in your freezer. Once frozen, you can then put the shrimp into zip lock bags, removing as much air as possible. Freeze the bags. Use within 3 months.
How To Freeze Fresh Scallops
You can put scallops in an airtight container and freeze them. However, if you would like to maintain a little more of their freshness, do this extra step. Put a metal baking pan in your freezer ahead of time and get it ice cold. Lay the scallops out on the pan in a single layer and freeze them (for no more than 1 hour), Then put them in an airtight container, or a zip lock bag and store them in the coldest part of your freezer (the back). Use them within 3 months.
If the scallops are still in their shells, remove the shells and rinse them under cool water before freezing them.
Always defrost scallops in the refrigerator. Never thaw them at room temperature. Do not re-freeze previously frozen scallops.
How To Freeze Clams
There are differing opinions about freezing clams. Use your own discretion about the methods below.
Can you freeze raw clams in their shell?
- Some people believe that you should not freeze raw clams in the shell. And, some people believe that it is fine to do this as long as the clams are alive to begin with and you go through the "Rinsing process" discussed below
Can you freeze cooked clams?
- Some people believe you should never freeze cooked clams and others believe that it is fine to do so.
Can you freeze shucked raw clams?
- The general consensus is that this is safe to do. Put them in a zip lock bag with their liquor and salt water (1 Tbsp to 1 qt water) - and cover them completely.
- You can freeze them uncooked in the shell or cooked and shucked Whatever method you want to use, you do have do go through the following rinsing process with fresh steamer clams. And, you want to make sure that the clams are alive - discard any that are not.
- Dump the clams in a large sink or bucket and rinse them with fresh water. Scrub the outside of the shells with a brush to remove dirt.
- Dump out the water and re-rinse the clams again in fresh water.
- You can now freeze the whole clams in their shell by putting them into zip lock freezer bags and removing as much air as possible. They will keep for at least 4 months in a freezer at 0° F.
- Rinsing process:
Freezing Cooked, Shucked Steamers
- Go through the rinsing process above.
- Then steam the clams for at least 5-9 minutes, or until the majority of the shells are open. Reserve the steaming liquid.
- Remove the clams from their shells after they cool down.
- Peel off the dark skin around the necks and remove the stomach and dark content.
- Place the cleaned, shucked clams into freezer bags or airtight containers. Pour in some of the reserved steaming liquid into each container, and then freeze. Remove as much air from the containers as you can. They will keep for at least 4 months in a freezer at 0° F.