Gumbo is a Louisiana-based dish that is made from a simple roux of oil and flour and combined along with different spices and ingredients to make a wholesome, delicious meal.
The great thing about gumbo is that it is easy to cook up a large batch to enjoy for a few meals. As gumbo is served with rice and often contains seafood, some people are wondering:
Can you freeze gumbo? Yes, you can freeze gumbo for 3-6 months depending on whether it has seafood in it or not. There are a few steps and safety practices to follow when preparing gumbo to be frozen, but it is a great way to make the most out of a large pot of gumbo and enjoy it as an easy meal at a later stage.
Read on to find out the best way to freeze gumbo so that it never goes to waste!
What To Consider When Freezing Gumbo
It is safe, and possible, to freeze gumbo. This makes it easy enough to grab a portion out of the freezer and heat it up when you want a quick meal.
Once frozen and reheated, gumbo will never taste as good as it did when it was prepared fresh. However, it is a great way to save up any gumbo left after a big batch, and it will still taste great once the time comes to eat it.
There are quite a few different ingredients in gumbo, and some do not fare as well with others when it comes to freezing.
The main ingredients in gumbo often depend on the fresh produce available at your location, but traditionally it includes shrimp, sausage, crab, oysters, bell peppers, okra, garlic, parsley, tomatoes, and rice.
Two ingredients that are quite tricky to freeze are rice and shrimp, both of which are served either in or with gumbo.
When frozen, rice can become mushy and just be miserable to eat once reheated. There are a few ways to prevent this so that you get to enjoy your gumbo with rice and save yourself the trouble of having to cook it from fresh.
Shrimp, which is a common ingredient in gumbo, tends to either turn really soft or become rubbery.
Reheating shrimp will definitely change the texture, but following the right steps can help reduce the change in texture somewhat.
Can You Freeze Gumbo With Shrimp?
It is perfectly fine to freeze gumbo with shrimp, especially if you have quite a bit left over that you do not want to go to waste!
Gumbo contains quite a few different ingredients that need to be frozen together. This is fine, as long as you do not freeze the gumbo with rice.
Here is how to properly prepare gumbo for freezing:
- Cool the gumbo down before you place it in the freezer. This prevents hot gumbo from increasing the temperature in the freezer and further helps to prevent bacteria growth. To do this, you can fill the sink with cool water and place the pot of gumbo directly into it. You can add in some ice cubes to help it cool quicker.
- Portion it into sealable plastic freezer bags. Make sure to leave a 1/2-inch space at the top of the bag for some expansion during freezing. Not doing this could lead to an explosion of gumbo in your freezer.
- Seal the plastic bag tightly, squeezing any excess air out as you seal it.
- Write the date of freezing onto the plastic bag, so you can keep check of when it needs to be eaten by.
Gumbo with seafood will last for 3 months stored this way, while gumbo without seafood will last up to 6 months.
You could also place the gumbo in airtight plastic containers that are safe to use in the freezer.
When using a plastic container, make sure to wipe away gumbo spilled on the lid or the side, so that you are able to properly close the container and give it an airtight seal.
Tip: It is a good idea to potion out the gumbo you are wanting to freeze, especially if you will only be reheating one or two portions to eat at a time. This saves you having to defrost the whole lot, and not getting through the batch.
You cannot refreeze gumbo, so make sure to only defrost what you will eat.
Can You Freeze Gumbo With Rice?
You can freeze gumbo with rice, but you might not want to freeze the two in the same container. If you freeze the rice mixed in with the gumbo, it will become mushy and break apart, and make the whole meal soggy and unenjoyable.
When freezing the gumbo, you would follow the above steps, but leave the rice separate.
Here is how to freeze rice to have to enjoy with your gumbo at a later stage:
- Cook the rice as you would normally.
- Lay the cooked rice onto a baking sheet and allow it to cool for up to 20 minutes.
- Once the rice has cooled down, place portions into sealable plastic freezer bags.
- Label the bags with the date of freezing and place them into the freezer.
- Lay the bags down flat to save storage space.
- Use the rice within 2 months.
Having a few portions of rice stored in the freezer is so helpful when you want to enjoy some leftovers without having to cook rice from scratch.
Just remember to write the date of freezing onto the freezer bag so that you can use it within 2 months.
How Long Can I Freeze Gumbo?
Gumbo can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months if it contains seafood, and up to 6 months if it does not contain seafood.
It will be fine to eat after this, but once this time has passed, it will begin to decline in quality, and will not taste as great as you might have hoped.
When kept in the fridge, gumbo is fine stored for up to 3 days, and it should be stored in an airtight container. After 3 days, you should throw away any old gumbo.
How To Reheat Gumbo
Reheating gumbo is fairly easy. You will first need to remove the gumbo from the freezer and allow it to thaw before you reheat it.
There are two ways to let gumbo thaw:
- Place the frozen gumbo in the fridge to allow it to thaw. This will take some time, and you might have to leave the gumbo to thaw in the fridge overnight, or for at least a few hours. This is the safest way to thaw gumbo, or any type of food, without it reaching temperatures that might encourage bacterial growth.
- If you do not have time to leave the gumbo to thaw in the fridge, you can place it in a bowl of lukewarm water, changing the water every thirty minutes, until it has defrosted. Once again, this stops the gumbo from sitting out at room temperature for too long,
Once the gumbo has thawed, you can reheat it in a saucepan on the stove. Reheat the gumbo until it reaches around 165°F, or heat it on medium-high heat until the gumbo is piping hot.
If there is any leftover gumbo that has been reheated, you will either have to eat it then or discard of it.
Reheating and storing and reheating gumbo again increases the chance of bacteria growth and heightens the chance that you might get food poisoning.
This is why it is a better idea to freeze individual portions, so you don’t have to let any gumbo go to waste!
Can I Reheat Gumbo In The Microwave?
You can reheat gumbo in the microwave, but it does not heat the gumbo as well as the stovetop does.
Here is how to reheat gumbo in the microwave:
- Allow the gumbo to thaw.
- Place the gumbo in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Heat the gumbo on medium-high heat for 30 seconds.
- Remove from the microwave and stir, leaving it to sit for 10 seconds.
- Repeat this process until it has heated through and is piping hot.
Stirring the gumbo and leaving it to sit for 10 seconds after each heating allows the heat to distribute evenly through the gumbo so that you don’t have some cold spots.
Should Gumbo Be Soupy?
Gumbo should not have the same consistency as soup; it should be thicker.
The broth is thicker, which is caused by using a roux to thicken and darken the dish. Some choose to thicken gumbo using file, which is powdered dried sassafras leaves.
Does Gumbo Taste Better the Next Day?
Yes, like with most stews and curries, gumbo does taste better the next day. The ingredients are given time to blend and marry, and it enhances the flavor of the dish.
What Can I Eat With Gumbo?
The best side to gumbo is rice. While some like to serve homemade garlic bread or mashed potatoes with gumbo, rice just goes with the gumbo so well and lets you enjoy all the flavors that the gumbo has to offer, soaking up the broth!