Are you adventurous when it comes to enjoying different foods? Do you have your favorites and typically stick to that category or do you step out on a limb and try new things when you get the chance?
Have you tried mussels? Do you love them or hate them? Maybe you just need all of the best tips to prepare and enjoy them.
Mussels are one of those foods that many people are afraid to work with. They can be slightly intimidating but there are many things you can do with mussels.
There are a variety of meals you can make. Mussels can be quite versatile and they’re really not too awful to work with if you take the time to learn how to work with them properly.
A few mussels go a long way. You can often buy them in bulk, which means you need some good storage options if you’re going to take the leap and purchase some mussels.
So, can you freeze mussels? You can freeze mussels, but you must do so carefully. When freezing fresh mussels, they should be live when frozen. They will die in the freezer, but they will remain safe to eat. Freezing cooked mussels is easier and safer overall.
In this guide, we will talk about all the things you should know about how to freeze mussels. We will cover proper storage methods and proper handling of mussels in full.
There is a lot of information you should know in order to be sure your mussels are safe and protected so you can enjoy them again and again.
Keep reading to learn everything you should know about freezing mussels and more.
A Complete Guide to Freezing Mussels
Mussels are mollusk creatures. They come in shells and they can come from saltwater or even freshwater.
Most of the time, mussels are distinguishable by long and slightly narrow shells that have meat inside.
Mussels are similar to clams in overall makeup but are separated in looks since clams tend to be more rounded rather than elongated in structure.
There are several different types of mussels. Here are a few of them for reference:
- Freshwater pearl mussel
- Mediterranean mussel
- Blue mussel
- Zebra mussel
- California mussel
- Perna Canaliculus
- Charru mussel
Most of these names may not really make a difference to you unless you’re quite familiar with mussels and have a favorite.
When you purchase mussels, they are most commonly either Mediterranean mussels or Blue mussels but it is possible that you can purchase other varieties as well.
Working with Mussels
You must be careful when working with mussels. If they are not handled appropriately, you might find yourself facing food poisoning or unpleasant illness from bad mussels.
That being said, it’s not so bad as long as you just pay attention to proper handling procedures and make the effort to do things appropriately.
There are a lot of things you can do with mussels. You can make a lot of different types of dishes with mussels. You do not have to eat them by themselves.
Here are a few ideas of delicious mussel entrees to give a try:
- Mussel soup
- Corn and mussel chowder
- Mixed pasta dishes with mussels
- Sake Steamed mussels
- Broiled mussels
- Mexican-style mussels
- Provencal mussels
- Red curry mussels
- Fried mussel rolls
- Roasted mussels
- Mussels with pancetta
These are just a few ideas of dishes that you can make with mussels. Don’t be intimidated by mussels. They are simple to work with; the shell is simply a protector.
Preparing Mussels for Use
Before you cook with mussels, you should clean and prepare them for use. Once mussels have been cooked, they can be frozen or refrigerated. You can also freeze live mussels if you do so carefully.
To properly prepare mussels for use, cleaning is the first step. Remember that mussels came out of water and they have most likely been in contact with things like barnacles, mud, sand, seaweed, and other debris.
Follow these processes to clean mussels:
- Place mussels in a clean sink or into a colander
- Run water diligently over the mussels
- Use your hands and a cleaning brush (optional) to clean the exterior of the shells
- If you come across open mussels, you can lightly tap them against the side of the sink to see if they close. If they close, they are alive but if they do not you should toss them out.
- If your mussel has any bearding on it, you should scrape it off or tug it away if you can.
Properly Storing and Freezing Mussels
Mussels can be stored for the long haul both when they are fresh and after they have been cooked.
The processes are very similar except once the mussels have been cooked, you won’t need to watch for live mussels in order to substantiate whether they are still good or not.
Freezing Fresh Mussels
When it comes to freezing fresh mussels, you will want to do so very quickly after you purchase them. We recommend that you freeze them within 1-2 days of getting them.
Here are your steps to freezing fresh muscles:
- Place live mussels in shells into heavy-duty freezer bags. Something like this from Amazon is perfect.
- If you find any opened shells, you should tap them to see if they close. Otherwise, you will need to toss them out.
- Leave some headspace in the bag and then release as much air as possible.
- Seal the bag tightly. You might even want to double bag the mussels just to place an extra protective layer around them.
- Label and date the packaging.
- Store mussels in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you store mussels in the freezer, it does kill the shellfish within. However, since they are frozen, they will be appropriately protected.
When you’re ready to use them, take them straight from the freezer or you can let them thaw in the fridge overnight.
Freezing Cooked Mussels
We are not covering how to cook mussels here as there are many cooking methods.
However, if you have cooked your mussels already and simply need a way to store the, you can absolutely freeze them after they’ve been cooked.
It may actually be more ideal to freeze them this way, but just know that you can effectively freeze them either way.
Here are your steps to freezing cooked mussels:
- Start by wrapping your cooked mussels in aluminum foil.
- Place wrapped mussels into either a shallow container or a heavy-duty freezer bag.
- Tightly seal all storage methods.
- Label and date packaging.
- Cooked mussels can be stored for up to 6 months in the freezer.
You can store cooked mussels in the fridge for 3-4 days before you freeze them if you want to.
It is possible that your mussels will remain safe longer than 6 months but it is recommended that you use them within this time frame for the best quality.
The best way to use mussels after you have frozen them is to let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight prior to using them.
Mussels that have been frozen should be safe in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days after you remove them from the freezer.
If you decide to store mussels that are fresh in the fridge, you should soak them in shallow water to maintain the integrity of the mussels.
The best thing you can do is cover the mussels with water and then cover the water with moistened paper towels.
Fresh mussels in the fridge should be used within about 5 days.
If you want to learn more about freezing mussels and shellfish in general. I highly recommend this video by America’s Test Kitchen on YouTube.
We hope that you find this guide to freezing mussels to be a valuable resource for your purposes. Freezing mussels is simple to do and it’s really quite easy. Mussels are pretty easy to work with if you just watch safe-handling precautions.
We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information that may be valuable to you.
How Long Do Mussels Need to Be Cooked?
There are many ways to cook mussels but the most common way involves boiling them. You will need to boil them for about 3-4 minutes.
You can tell the mussels have been cooked when they open up. If any mussels do not open during the cooking process, they should be tossed out.
Is It Bad to Eat Dead Mussels?
Dead mussels are not considered safe for consumption. If the shell doesn’t open while cooking or if you notice cracks in the shell, the mussel is most likely dead.
When the mussels die, there is a much higher risk of food poisoning or bacteria within the meat. You should never eat dead mussels if you can help it.
What Should You Serve with Mussels?
Mussels can be served in a variety of ways. You can make many types of dishes with mussels.
If you’re looking for the perfect side to serve with mussels, you can try a thick and hearty soup or some fresh vegetables. Things like jicama, tomatoes, onions, and leeks pair nicely with mussels.
Some other side options that you might want to try include garlic bread, rice, roasted potatoes, and dipping sauces.
Up Next: Can You Freeze Clams? Is It Safe?