Nothing says versatile and adventurous like a bowl of mussels when it comes to food. They may be a little difficult to handle but with the right guidance and tips, you can enjoy a good dish without it being too much trouble.
The first challenge towards enjoying mussels is preserving them. They need to be kept in just the right conditions especially if you are thinking of storing them. And so, the question arises: Can you freeze mussels?
Yes, mussels can be frozen but they need to be handled with care. Make sure they are alive when freezing. The freezing would kill them but they would remain safe for use. The easiest and safest course of action is to cook mussels before freezing.
What are Mussels?
Mussels usually come from seawater but can also be found in freshwater. They have a narrow and elongated structure with the meat enclosed in a shell.
Mediterranean mussels and Blue mussels are the most common types of the little creatures.
In this article, we are going to discuss how to freeze mussels for long-term use.
Storing and Freezing Mussels
As stated earlier, you can store mussels both when they are fresh and after being cooked. The process of freezing is almost the same in both situations.
In the case of fresh mussels, you need to check for dead ones so that you can separate them from the live ones. Dead mussels are not suitable for consumption.
However, if you have cooked the mussels, then you do not need to worry about differentiating between the live and dead ones. You can simply go ahead and freeze them as per the instructions.
Freezing Fresh Mussels
Fresh mussels need to be frozen soon after they are purchased. The best time frame for freezing is within 2-3 days.
Follow these steps to freeze mussels and to ensure they don’t get spoiled.
Step 1 –
The first step is to clean the shells. Run them underwater and use a scrub to remove the grit off of the shells.
You also need to check for any dead mussels before packing. An open shell is an indication of exactly that. Further ensure by tapping the shell, if it doesn’t close then discard it.
Step 2 –
The second step is to place the live mussels into freezer bags. As the shell is going to be intact before freezing, it is recommended that you use heavy-duty bags because they usually last longer than the regular ones.
Step 3 –
Try and remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing it. Double bag the mussels for extra protection. Make sure that the bags are sealed shut and are not exposed to allowing any air bubbles to form.
Freezing Cooked Mussels
Freezing mussels after cooking them is an even easier process because you don’t check for dead ones before freezing them. Cooked mussels are also less likely to go bad as compared to fresh ones.
The ideal and way of freezing cooked mussels is given in the following steps.
Step 1 –
Use aluminum foil to wrap the cooked mussels.
Step 2 –
Put the wrapped mussels in a freezer bag or freezer container. At this point, it should be ensured that the mussels are not exposed in any way.
Step 3 –
Make sure the bag or container, whatever may be the case, is tightly sealed. There should be no room for any air to enter the packaging. If the packaging is compromised in any way, it would allow bacteria and other germs to grow on the mussels which could lead to food poisoning.
How long do Mussels last?
The time period for which mussels remain edible varies depending on whether they are fresh or cooked before freezing.
Fresh mussels can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Storing live mussels in the freezer kills the shellfish. But, since they are frozen, the state of remaining edible is guaranteed.
You can store cooked mussels in the freezer for a period of 6 months without them going bad.
Although cooked mussels don’t go bad for 6 months, their quality is certainly degraded with the passage of time. So, it is recommended to consume them within 2-3 months of freezing.
Cooked mussels remain safe in the fridge for 3-4 days. They should be frozen before that time or you will run the risk of spoiling them.
Labelling the Storage Date
Labelling the package with the storage date would be an effective way to avoid eating expired mussels. It would be a waste to put an expired mussel in your mouth especially after having put so much effort into packaging and freezing them.
This also comes in handy when you have multiple small packages stored in your freezer.
Labelling the date gives you an idea of when you must make use of them. Even though mussels remain safe for use for a couple of months, it doesn’t necessarily mean “best for use”. Some people may not prefer to extend the timeline to the very end.
The process of thawing mussels is a simple one. Simply take the packaging from the freezer and place it in your refrigerator. Let the mussels thaw overnight.
It is important to defrost mussels, and any other seafood, slowly. This helps them retain their flavor and texture.
Signs that your Mussels have gone bad
After defrosting, mussels can remain edible for another 2 days if kept in the fridge. They should give off a beautiful smell of the ocean.
A bad smell is a sure sign that your mussels have gone bad and should be discarded.