Freezing oysters is a great way to keep them fresh and extend their shelf life in the long run. But can you freeze shelled oysters? If yes, how to freeze them correctly?
I’ll guide you through the process and share useful tips to ensure your frozen oysters stay fresh. So, if you are ready, let’s dive in together!
Can You Freeze Shelled Oysters?
The answer is Yes. You can freeze shelled oysters. This storage method is a fantastic way to extend their shelf life and ensure their deliciousness for later use. Yet, you have to check them carefully before freezing.
Freezing shelled oysters is a straightforward process. Here are three steps to do it properly:
Step 1: Check If the Shelled Oysters Are Fresh
Only freeze and cook the oysters if they are still fresh. It is the best way to avoid shellfish-related diseases.
Fresh oysters should have a fresh and sweet smell. But if you notice a very fishy and slightly rotten smell, the oysters may no longer be safe to eat.
To make sure you’re getting good oysters, buy them from trusted places. Also, check them before buying to enjoy the tasty seafood without worrying about being spoiled.
Related: How to store fresh oysters
Step 2: Wash Your Oysters
Before freezing the shelled oysters, wash them thoroughly. This step helps eliminate any debris, sand, and pieces of broken shells.
While washing, you may notice some bad oysters. In this case, discard them immediately. Otherwise, they will affect the other oysters in your bag.
Besides, be gentle at this step because shelled oysters are soft. If you use too much force, you may destroy their texture.
Step 3: Place the Oysters in a Bag
After washing, place the shelled oysters in a sealed plastic bag or shallow container. Then, pour the liquid of the oysters into the container, too. And if the liquid can’t cover them completely, add water.
Next, use a marker to write the date on the bags. Then, you can tell how long you have frozen your shelled oysters.
You can keep your shelled oysters in the freezer for up to three months. It’s not a good idea to freeze them for longer.
Can You Freeze Half-Shell Oysters?
Yes. You can totally freeze half-shell oysters. First, you need to pry off the top shells of the oysters before putting them in the freezer. The steps are as follows:
Step 1: Make Sure the Oysters Are Alive
An oyster has a unique muscle that helps it keep its shell tightly closed. An oyster keeps its shell shut to stay safe when it is alive.
So, if you tap on the shell of a live oyster, it should quickly close its shell. But if the oyster stays open, it may die.
Step 2: Scrub the Shells
Use a brush with stiff bristles to scrub the oyster shells. This step removes any sand, mud, and pieces of shell. While brushing, you can keep the shells under running water to rinse away the dirt.
Step 3: Pry Off the Top Shells
Use an oyster knife to open the oysters. You need to be careful when sliding the knife into the pointed edge of the shell. Then, gently twist it until you hear a pop sound.
Next, run the oyster knife along the oyster’s top edge to free it from its shell. And finally, break off the top shell.
When you try to remove the shells, always keep your oysters upright. This tip helps you save as much of the tasty oyster juice inside the shell as possible.
Plus, remember to protect yourself when handling the shells. They are sharp, so holding them with a towel is essential. You can also wear gloves at this step.
Step 4: Store Oysters in the Freezer
Lay your oysters flat in a container so their juices won’t spill out. The oyster juices are tasty and can add flavor to your dish.
When placing the oysters in the container, leave about half an inch of space at the top. Then, seal it tightly and put it in the freezer.
You can store your oysters there for about three months. Remember to write the date on the container so you know how long the oysters have been in the freezer.
Tips for Freezing Shelled Oysters
You have highlighted the necessary steps to freeze shelled oysters. Here are some other tips to achieve an ideal result.
Freeze the Shelled Oysters as Soon as Possible
It’s important to freeze the oysters as soon as you bring them home. Leaving them out at room temperature for more than a day can spoil them.
Save the Juices
Oysters have sweet juices. So whether you freeze the shelled or half-shell oysters, keep the juices with them.
Keep the Temperature Stable
The freezing temperature is the key to storing shelled oysters. Aside from setting your freezer at a low temperature, keeping it stable will be equally important.
Set your freezer at a consistent and appropriate temperature. Then, you can ensure your shelled oysters stay safe for three months.
How to Thaw Frozen Shelled Oysters
To thaw frozen shelled oysters, remove them from the freezer and place them in the refrigerator. Then, leave them there for at least 24 hours to thaw.
The refrigerator is a safe place to thaw food. The temperature is cold enough to prevent bacterial growth while allowing the frozen food to defrost gradually.
Luckily, defrosting shelled oysters takes a shorter time than unshelled ones. And after thawing, you don’t have to struggle with the hard shells. Just feel free to choose your favorite recipes to cook your thawed-shelled oysters because they are ready now.
Is It Better to Freeze Oysters With or Without Shells?
Freezing oysters with or without shells each has its own pros and cons. You can choose the better method depending on your preferences.
For example, you may want to unshelled oysters because the shells act as a natural protective layer for the flesh against damage during freezing.
Moreover, the shells retain moisture within the oysters. And when they take them out to cook, you will love their juiciness and texture.
However, these oysters take up more space in your freezer. They also need more time to thaw than the shucked ones because of the hard shells.
On the other hand, shelled oysters require little storage space. Plus, they can defrost quickly, saving a lot of time and effort.
Unfortunately, shelled oysters may be susceptible to moisture loss and texture damage during freezing without the protective layer.
How to Cooked Shelled Oysters
After defrosting, your oysters are ready to cook. You can try endless options to bring out the best of their flavor.
Thawed shelled oysters can go well with many recipes, like soups, sauces, chowders, dressings, or sautéing and frying. The natural sweetness of the meat will not let you down.
You can also grill the oysters for your BBQ party. If it’s cold outside, consider making oyster stew. Another idea is to prepare oyster dressing for a special occasion.
Thawed oysters are safe to use in various cooked dishes. After thawing, you can eat them for two to three days. You can also grill them directly without thawing for up to 24 hours to save time.
However, do not eat raw oysters once you have frozen them because eating them raw after thawing is risky.
Related: Frozen oyster recipes
How to Open Oysters in the Freezer
If you store unshelled oysters, you have to deal with their hard shells. Fortunately, you can easily open your frozen oysters after thawing them in the refrigerator overnight. Once defrosted, the oysters open up a little bit, making it easy to handle. The instructions are as follows:
- Slide a kitchen knife into the open spot.
- Wiggle the knife around.
- Pry open the oyster.
This video will show you how to open the oysters properly:
Can You Freeze Cooked Oysters?
Yes. To freeze cooked oysters, place them in containers, cover them with the cooking liquid, and freeze at 0°F.
How Long Do Shelled Oysters Last in the Fridge?
You can keep shelled oysters in the fridge for four to seven days. Remember to keep the temperature under 40℉.
Can You Defrost Oysters in Water?
Yes. You can place your frozen shelled oysters in a bag and dip them in a bowl of water for a few hours.
You can freeze shelled oysters. Freezing shelled oysters is a fantastic way to extend their shelf life and ensure their deliciousness for later use.
Remember to check the oysters for freshness first. Then, store them in moisture-resistant bags. And when you want to enjoy them, thaw them in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
Hopefully, the tips I shared above can help you handle your seafood confidently. If you need more tips, do not hesitate to comment.
Thank you for reading!