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Freezer Burnt Shrimp – What You Should Do

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It’s hard to understand just what leads our food items to become freezer burnt. It may be that they weren’t sealed well. It could be that it was in the freezer for far too long. Or, it could be something totally different! 

There is really nothing worse than freezer burnt food. No matter how hard we try, it seems to attack our foods without our permission and we’re left to deal with the consequences. Freezer burnt shrimp is just one such culprit. Meats are incredibly challenging to prevent freezer burn or to use and try to hide the freezer burn. 

What can you possibly do when your shrimp ends up freezer burnt? There are a lot of ways to try to prevent freezer burn but also things you can do to cook your shrimp and perhaps disguise the freezer burn flavor that it might pick up. 

In this guide, we will discuss how to know when your shrimp is freezer burnt as well as things you might be able to do to use up your shrimp anyways. There are many things surrounding shrimp and freezer burn that we will cover in this article, all of it relative and useful. 

Keep reading to learn about freezer brunt shrimp in massive detail. 

Your Guide to Shrimp and Freezer Burn

Freezer burn is nothing new. It’s something we have been dealing with on all types of foods for as long as freezers have been around. No matter how hard we try, it seems like our foods are too often the victims of freezer burn and what can we do about it?

Believe it or not, there are some things you can do to bring your food back to life when it is the victim of freezer burn. There are also some specific tips that may or may not help to prevent freezer burn. 

One of the nice things about shrimp is there are times you might think it is freezer burnt because it has a layer of ice but it actually isn’t! This is a very nice surprise when you get down to business. 

Freezer Burn Explained

Before we get too far into talking about freezer burn, we should probably discuss just what freezer burn is. It’s pretty clear that freezer burn happens in the freezer but what exactly causes freezer burn? And are there certain ways you can avoid freezer burn?

Freezer burn is typically caused by air reaching your food in the freezer. The air causes dehydration and oxidation to your food which can have multiple types of effects. For steaks, you might notice some discoloration. For frozen veggies, they may have clumps of ice stuck to them. 

Most of the time, the best way to reduce freezer burn is by ensuring that it is wrapped securely. Vacuum sealing your meats is one of the best ways to avoid freezer burn.

When you purchase food in-store packaging, you would assume that it’s designed to protect the insides from the freezer but this is not always the case. 

You can look for grayish-brown or spots that look leathery on meats and foods for signs of freezer burn. Freezer burn may not affect the entire item that it has attached to. It may only affect a small piece or portion, especially when it comes to freezer burnt meat. 

The thing you should know the most is that freezer burn does not make your food spoiled or unsafe. It’s still fully edible, the texture of the food may be slightly affected.

You might also be able to improve your food by removing the freezer burn. This is not always an option but something to keep in mind. 

For a quick description of freezer burn, check out this video by MinuteEarth on YouTube.

Recognizing Freezer Burn on Shrimp

We’ve touched on how freezer burn might appear on your food but how can you tell for sure whether or not your shrimp has freezer burn? Shrimp stored in the freezer will naturally have a layer of ice. 

This layer of ice does NOT necessarily mean your shrimp is freezer burnt. In fact, this ice coating on the shrimp can actually help keep your shrimp from acquiring freezer burn while in the freezer. 

Most of the time, you can thaw your shrimp out and dry them off and cook as normal. Thanks to that ice coating, they will be tender and juice and have great flavor. 

This is not always the case, but understand that if you see a layer of ice it is not always a sign of bad news. It could be a sign that your shrimp is well-protected and will be deliciously juicy and flavorful when you’re ready to enjoy it. 

There are several signs that might be an indicator that your shrimp is freezer burnt. 

Here are some things you can specifically look for. 

  • Opaque color
  • White discoloration
  • Appear hard or tough
  • Single spots that appear dry or discolored
  • Uneven coloring on shrimp

Remember that these are just some basic signs of identifying freezer burn on your shrimp. The shrimp should still be safe to cook and eat, you just might notice that it is dry or slightly tough rather than juicy. The texture is the most likely thing to be affected but you can often work around that. 

Cooking Shrimp with Freezer Burn

You can’t always avoid freezer burn, despite your best efforts. If your shrimp has noticeable freezer burn, don’t lose hope. You can still use the shrimp, although there are some ways to use it that might be better than others. 

When shrimp is freezer burnt, the most noticeable change is that it becomes dry. The dryness can make it slightly tough.

There are things you can do to still enjoy the shrimp. 

While you may not want to eat the shrimp plain because it has lost some of the juicy texture many of us love and enjoy, you can still enjoy it a myriad of other ways and most likely not even notice that your shrimp was freezer burnt to begin with. 

The best way to use your shrimp when you notice freezer burn is to cook it into a dish. There are many delicious shrimp dishes that incorporate shrimp into parts of the dish which can help mask freezer burn. 

There are also a lot of sauces you can make to cover your shrimp which could also help with the flavor and texture. If you only have a small portion of shrimp that is freezer burnt, you can always discard that section or portion and prepare the rest of your shrimp as desired. 

Here are some great ideas of dishes you can make that will turn out delightful, regardless of whether or not your shrimp is freezer burnt. 

  • Shrimp scampi
  • Shrimp in pasta
  • Pesto shrimp
  • Marinated shrimp
  • Use in soup or chowder
  • Add to jambalaya
  • Add to fried rice
  • Shrimp cakes
  • Mix into stir fry

There are a lot of things you can do to enjoy your shrimp after it has been freezer burnt. The best way to conceal the texture of freezer burn is to add sauce or to mix your shrimp into a dish. The thing you want to avoid the most is having the shrimp as the primary portion of the recipe or having it dry. 

We also don’t recommend frying freezer burnt shrimp or eating it plain. You simply won’t enjoy it as much. 

We want to remind you that your shrimp is still safe to eat when its freezer burnt. There is nothing special you have to do to eat your shrimp, just be aware that the flavor and texture might be affected. 

The Shelf Life of Frozen Shrimp

Frozen shrimp can last for several months in the freezer when you store it properly. While we expect store packaging to be fail-safe in preserving our shrimp, this is not always the case. 

The best thing to do is to repackage your shrimp and to know without a doubt that it is well-sealed and airtight. 

When sealed and store properly, shrimp should last up to 6 months without the threat of freezer burn. 3-6 months is the recommended storage time for shrimp. We simply recommend that you don’t leave it longer than that in order to enjoy the best shrimp possible. 

Here is our recommended storage process to try to prevent freezer burn. 

  1. Wrap shrimp in plastic wrap or leave in store packaging. 
  2. Place shrimp into another container or a heavy-duty freezer bag to give it a dual layer of protection. 
  3. Label and date the packaging. 
  4. Store in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

You should still be able to use your shrimp even after the 6-month time frame. The point to be aware of here is that 6 months is the maximum recommended time to enjoy the best shrimp. It’s basically a best-by recommendation but it really will last indefinitely in the freezer if stored properly. 

The longer the shrimp stays in the freezer, the more susceptible it will be to obtaining freezer burn despite your best efforts. 

Tips for Preventing Freezer Burn

There are some extra measures you can take to avoid freezer burn. You see in the previous section that we recommend utilizing a double-layer to give your shrimp the ultimate protection. 

Don’t rely simply on the store packaging to protect your shrimp. What we’ve found is that the store packaging is often ineffective at protecting your shrimp when it’s stored for more than a couple of weeks. 

We are not sure why store packaging is not very reliable but the statement comes from experience. 

The best thing you can to do prevent freezer burn is to take the storage of your shrimp into your own hands. Then you will know without a doubt how well it has been packaged and that you can rely more heartily on your shrimp remaining fresh. 

We recommend always using a dual-layer of protection. Wrap your shrimp in plastic wrap or foil first. Wrapping it in one of these will extend the freezer life of your shrimp and also help to reduce freezer burn. 

Of course, there is no guarantee but these methods have had the best levels of success. You can leave it in the original packaging and then put another layer over that but we recommend just opening it up and using that plastic wrap or foil to get started. 

Once you’ve wrapped your shrimp in the initial layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil, you should then place the wrapped shrimp into either a heavy-duty freezer bag or a freezer-safe storage container. 

Whatever you choose to place your shrimp in, be sure that it is well-sealed. The shrimp being properly sealed from air is what will help to protect it from getting freezer burn. Remember that it is the air in the freezer that often leads to freezer burn. 

If you can effectively keep the air out, you can most likely prevent freezer burn from your shrimp. Essentially, no method on its very own will completely protect your shrimp from freezer burn but two layers working together can significantly improve the odds. 

You can also vacuum seal your shrimp. We recommend that you still use a double-layered approach if you vacuum seal your shrimp. That second layer can go a long way to protecting your shrimp effectively. 

It’s certainly worth a try to ensure that your shrimp keeps that delicious juicy flavor and soft texture that we all know and love of shrimp. Better safe than sorry is our motto because we know that freezer burnt shrimp is simply no fun. 

Be sure to label and date all of your packaging to help track how long the shrimp has been frozen. 

Related Questions

We hope that you find this guide to helping avoid freezer burn or working with shrimp that has been through freezer burn is an effective tool for you. There are a lot of ways to work with freezer burnt shrimp as well as many tips for trying to avoid freezer burn altogether. 

In the following section, you will find some popular questions and answers. We invite you to review this information in hopes that you will find something you fund useful and informative. 

Will Freezer Food Make Your Shrimp Bad?

Freezer burn is a negative side effect on your food. However, it does not make the shrimp unsafe to consume. Freezer burnt food will not make you sick and does not necessarily mean you have to give up on your shrimp. 

Freezer burn WILL affect your texture, the color, and potentially the flavor of your shrimp. Remember that it will most likely make it quite dry and not very juicy. In short, the shrimp is not bad but it will certainly need some tender care to make it still be delicious. 

How Can You “Cut Off” Freezer Burn from Shrimp?

Shrimp is not a sizable food. Most shrimp is small and unsubstantial in size. If you cut out a portion of shrimp, you may lose an entire piece. Shrimp is typically sold in a bulk bag of a certain number of pounds. 

The concept of removing the freezer burnt shrimp in this case, would most likely refer to tossing or removing a specific portion of the shrimp rather than simply cutting off pieces of multiple parts of shrimp. 

What Temperature is Shrimp Frozen at?

Shrimp should be frozen at a minimum temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. A Steady 0-degree freezer is the best way to freeze your shrimp long-term. If your freezer is too cold, it may be more susceptible to freezer burn. 

Up Next: The Best Shrimp Substitutes

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