When you have a craving for crabs, but you live far away from the coastal areas, the closest option you can get is to buy canned crab meat at the grocery store. And once you open a can of crab meat, you may not use everything in it! It can’t be helped sometimes, right? It just happens with many people.
To avoid unnecessary food waste, you should store the rest of the crab meat for future use instead.
Now, can you freeze canned crab meat? Yes, freezing leftover canned crab meat is definitely the best thing to do. Before you immediately toss your crab meat into your freezer, it is also best to place it in a resealable freezer bag and have it vacuum-sealed to further extend its shelf life.
This crustacean product comes in different grades corresponding to the lump size and part of the crab’s meat. In the market, canned crab meat is sold in these varieties: (1) jumbo lump, (2) lump, (3) back fin, and (4) claw meat. Starting with fresh crab meat coming from different crab species, they are cleaned, cooked, pasteurized, and then packed in cans or containers.
Canned crab meat is not an everyday food for most people. When it comes to canned foods, you can expect that you don’t get to consume everything and have leftovers for sure. With that, you can still keep it under appropriate storage conditions for future seafood dishes.
Freezing Canned Crab Meat
Freezing canned crab meat is the best storage solution to keep it for a long time. The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) advises that canned seafood can hold their maximum quality two to three months after opening. Vacuum sealing a pack of your leftover canned crab meat will further extend the shelf life up to one year.
How to Freeze Canned Crab Meat
Note that an unopened can of crab meat last for several years in the pantry. For your safety, bear in mind to never leave opened canned crab meat under room temperature, even just for a few hours. Once you have opened a can of crab meat, it becomes highly perishable, and it gets spoiled quickly. You don’t want to have a bad tummy ache after eating rotten crab meat from the can, right?
Again, freezing the crab meat is the best storage option. Here is how to freeze canned crab meat:
Step 1: Transfer Crab Meat
Never store the crab meat directly in the can or in its original tin container once it is opened. Find a plastic bag or a clean airtight container and transfer all the leftover crab meat.
Experts warn that once you freeze food directly in an already opened can, the tin or iron can dissolve and contaminate the food, making it taste metallic.
If you don’t have a resealable bag or an airtight container, you can wrap your crab meat with a heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Step 2: Vacuum-seal Crab Meat
This step is optional, but it is highly recommended. If you have a vacuum sealer at home, then that’s a great advantage!
Vacuum sealing removes the package’s oxygen, decreasing the chances of survival for the molds or bacteria. This food preservation technology also protects your food from freezer burns and dehydration.
Step 3: Freeze Canned Crab Meat
You may place your crab meat at the farthest or coldest part of the freezer, especially if you will not use it soon. Ensure that you should constantly keep it safely frozen at 0°F.
If you have an unopened pasteurized can or pack of crab meat, you can also keep them in the freezer. However, be cautious about the possibility that keeping canned goods in the freezer may swell or even explode. And, if you see any signs of deformity or leakage, do not eat it. Dispose of it for your safety.
How to Thaw Frozen Canned Crab Meat
Alright! The day has come for you to prepare a delicious crab dish. It’s time to take your crab meat out of the freezer! Choose among the thawing methods you prefer below:
1. Overnight Refrigeration Method or Slow Thawing Method
Refrigeration is the ideal and safest way to thaw your frozen crab meat. Do this if you plan to cook the crab meat on the next day or two. Just transfer it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator. Make sure to have a tray or plate under the frozen package or container to catch the water drippings.
2. Coldwater Bath Method
When you have no time to thaw the crab meat in the refrigerator, this method will do. Prepare a basin or a big bowl of cold tap water. Then, place the frozen crab in a leak-proof plastic bag. You don’t have to do this if it is placed in a freezer bag. Submerge the package into the cold water and replace the water every 30 minutes until it softens.
3. Microwave Method
Place your frozen crab meat in a microwavable container and set it to thawing mode.
Note that once you have applied the cold water bath and microwave thawing method to your frozen crab meat, you should cook it immediately and never place it back in the freezer, or you’ll have a lump of bad-tasting crab meat.
Does Freezing Affect the Taste Of Canned Crab Meat?
Frozen crab meat can hold its maximum quality for up to three months. Beyond that, it is still generally safe to eat it as long as it is kept correctly under freezing conditions.
A vacuum-sealed pack of crab meat can last up to one year. Though there will be some minimal loss of its freshness, it can go unnoticed. Just like any food, expect that as time goes by, its quality slowly drops.
How to Know if Leftover Canned Crab Meat is Safe to Eat
Check the smell and the appearance of the leftover crab meat. You do not have to taste it if it smells and looks off. Discard it immediately.