Do you enjoy trying new foods and flavors?
Perhaps you prefer to play it safe and cook familiar and favorite foods and stick to your standard recipes.
You lack the time to learn new or complex recipes, or you’re not sure of the family’s reaction to an unusual dish.
Most likely, you’re wary about handling certain ingredients like Mussels.
Mussels add interesting flavors and textures to a dish. You can use this versatile seafood in numerous ways.
The best part is that you don’t a whole bunch of these unlike shrimps and sausage. You can buy in bulk if you planning to cook big batch on the weekend or for a family dinner.
This brings up an interesting question on storing it.
Can you freeze mussels?
Yes, you can but you need to prepare and handle it with care.
This guide tells you more about this ingredient. You will learn you how to handle it and make it last longer with proper storage.
What are mussels and how to use them?
Mussels belong to the mollusk family and come with a protective shell. They breed in both saltwater and fresh water.
While the mussel is related to the clam and oysters, there is a distinct feature that separates them.
Clam shells tend to be round whereas oysters have jagged edges. Both have light colored shells. Mussel has a slightly elongated and shiny outer covering. It invariably has black or purplish-brown shaded shell.
Like fish and other mollusks, mussels come in many varieties. You may not be able to differentiate between various mussels, but it doesn’t make a difference in cleaning, cooking or storing.
Common types include the Mediterranean mussel, pearl mussel, blue mussel, California mussel, zebra mussel, mussel, and charru mussel. Blue and Mediterranean are the common varieties you’ll find in markets and departmental stores.
Why is mussel not as popular as prawns or shrimp?
Some love a good mussel dish while others have an intense dislike for mussel or other shellfish.
A lot of home cooks tend to shy away from using mollusk. It is the shell protecting the meat inside that intimidates them.
If you don’t make it often at home, then you probably need good tips on using mussels and clams.
Steam, roast, braise, fry and serve. Add them to curries, casseroles, and stews after cooking the mollusks.
Trust me when I say this, they are much easier to work with once you know the best ways to cook and serve them. Which is a topic for discussing another time.
For now, read on to find out how you can freeze mussels in the best possible ways.
Can You Freeze Fresh And Raw Mussels?
You can choose to freeze both fresh and cooked mussels. Although cooked ones are easier to handle and safer, live mussels can be stored in the freezer when handled properly.
The downside is that the shellfish will die when frozen but remain safe to cook and eat.
What happens when you don’t use proper steps while freezing the ones fresh from the market?
Food poisoning is a real possibility when uncooked foods, particularly where meat and seafood is concerned.
In fact, we’ve discussed this in detail in many of our previous guides on freezing raw and fresh animal foods.
Whether you plan to eat them alone or as part of another dish, store fresh mollusks until you need to use it.
I am providing you with a detailed process of cleaning and handling fresh mussels. This will minimize your chances of bacterial growth and cross contamination.
How To Prepare Raw Mussels For Storage
The first step before you freeze or cook raw ingredient is usually to clean them. This can be simply be removing dirt or wilted stems and leaves for plant foods.
For seafood, you need to grow the extra step of cleaning them in water.
After all, your mussel is a creature of the water. The shells will be coating with a lot of contaminants including dirty water, mud, bacteria, barnacles, seaweed, plastic pieces (sadly), and other debris.
Steps To Clean Fresh Mussels
First thing to do is place mussels in colander. Check for open mussels.
Tap any open ones lightly against the countertop to close them. If they remain open, it’s better to discard as they are likely dead and not good enough to eat.
Rinse the rest in running water.
Clean the shells with your hands or use a soft brush to remove stubborn dirt.
Remove any bearding that is stuck on the shells. Scrape it off or tug it away gently.
Now your mussels are ready to either be cooked or stored.
How To Store Live Mussels In The Freezer
Freezing raw shellfish works best when you do it soon after you buy.
In hotter weather, this would mean cleaning and storing within a couple of hours of purchase.
If the weather is cool, you can keep mussels at room temperature in a shady place for one to two days.
Steps To Freeze Fresh Mussels
Ensure all your mussel shells are closed. Discard the ones that remain open.
Add the shells to one or more freezer bags – use thicker ones that don’t tear easily.
Remember to leave some space in the bag and squeeze all the air out (as much as you can).
Seal the bag tightly. Vacuum seal it if possible. Add another bag over the sealed bag to prevent ice crystals from forming.
Label the bag and store it at the back of the freezer for up to three months.
You can also add mussel to a cookie sheet and freeze it. Remove and add it to freezer bags
Whenever you want to cook them, take a bag out from the freezer and thaw o the countertop. You can place them in the fridge to thaw overnight.
How To Freeze Cooked Mussels
The process of storing cooked mussel is similar, except for the additional time you need to cook and cool the dish. Store cooked mussels with either shells intact or after removing the shells.
If you freeze your mussels with the outer covering intact, the cooked meat could turn rubbery after prolonged exposure to the cold.
Steps To Freeze Cooked For Steamed Mussels
Cool the dish before you start the storing process.
Wrapping cooked mussels in an aluminum foil. If the mussels are part of gravy or sauce dish, store the liquids separately in freezer-safe jars or containers.
Now place your shellfish in a thick freezer bag or shallow container.
Cover the container with a tight lid or seal the bag tightly.
Add a storing label to the box or bag. Store for up to six months preferably at the back of the freezer.
You may also like: How to freeze potatoes without blanching
Can You Freeze Cooked Mussels Stored In The Fridge?
Sometimes, you plan to use the cooked mussels in another dish and kept it in the fridge for a couple of days.
You forget about it or change your mind later on. If you’re wondering whether your cooked and chilled mussels can be frozen for future use, the answer is yes.
But your mussels shouldn’t be lying in the fridge for more than 4 days after cooking, steaming or roasting.
Quick Note: The maximum freezing times for fresh and cooked mollusks is simply a suggestion. You should use it as soon as possible to retain flavor and quality of your mussel.
Related: If you want to know how long raw meats stay fresh in the fridge, Is Raw Chicken Okay In Fridge For 7 Days? [A Complete Guide + FAQs]
How should you store thawed mussels?
The best way to retain the texture and flavor of the mussel meat is to let it thaw slowly, overnight, in the fridge.
Fresh mussels that have been frozen should be safe in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days after you remove them from the freezer. Cooked mussels that have been thawed in the fridge should be used within one to three days.
To retain freshness and prevent the shellfish meat from turning rubbery or breaking apart, soak the thawed mussels in a tub of water in the fridge.
Cover the container or jar not with a lid but some moist paper towels.
You can freeze any type of mussel or mollusk for that matter. Mussels can be frozen when they are fresh or after they have been cooked.
You can freeze cooked mussel with the shell or remove the shell.
Gravy based mussels should be frozen in separate containers –
One for mussels and another the liquids.
Thawed mussels can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days before you have to chuck it away.
I hope that this gudie to freezing mussels has answered all your questions.
Now that you know how to properly handle and store mussels , maybe it’s time to find the perfect recipe to serve your seafood loving family.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is fresh mussels safe to consume once frozen?
Freezing does kill the shellfish within. However, since they are frozen, they are protected from bacterial contamination and safe to cook.
Can you eat dead or spoiled mussels?
Eating spoiled mussels is a definite no, unless you wan to risj food poisoning and stomach infections.
Mussels that died being frozen or cooked are safe to eat. On the other hand, fresh mussels with opened or cracked shells and cooked ones with closed shells should be discarded.