Having shrimp in your freezer makes it easy to cook quick, filling, and delicious meals. But sometimes you may defrost more shrimp than you need. What should you do with the leftover thawed shrimp?
Can you refreeze thawed shrimp? You can refreeze thawed shrimp only if you have defrosted it in the fridge. You should never refreeze shrimp that you have thawed at room temperature, under running cold water, or in the microwave. The second rule is that you should refreeze the shrimp within a day or two after thawing it.
Continue reading for step-by-step instructions for refreezing shrimp, the dos and don’ts, as well as how to tell if your refrozen shrimp has gone bad!
What Happens When You Refreeze Food?
Freezing affects the flavor and texture of all foods. With the right freezing technique, these changes can be minimal.
But there are foods the overall quality of which is affected more by the freezing process compared to other foods. These foods include meat and seafood in their raw and cooked form.
But what happens when you freeze food? The low temperature of the freezer causes the cell walls of food to break. As a consequence, the texture of the food changes.
Depending on the particular food item and the freezing technique you are using, the texture of the product may be affected to different degrees.
When you refreeze food, the cells undergo another round of damage. But aside from the texture, there is also the safety issue when it comes to refreezing food.
Thawing and refreezing food multiple times makes food, especially proteins, vulnerable to bacterial growth.
This is why there are even legal restrictions regulating the freezing and thawing conditions of food for the food industry, including restaurants and grocery stores.
Can You Refreeze Thawed Shrimp?
Whether you can refreeze thawed shrimp or not depends on how you have defrosted it and how long it has been since the shrimp has thawed.
If you have thawed the shrimp under running cold water or at room temperature, refreeze it only after cooking it. Make sure the shrimp cools completely before you freeze it again.
You shouldn’t refreeze shrimp thawed in the microwave either. Exposing it to low temperatures again will cause the shrimp to undergo major texture changes.
Additionally, shrimp that has been exposed to an open atmosphere is more susceptible to bacterial contamination. So, you can refreeze shrimp and seafood in general if it has been defrosted in the fridge.
Aside from the defrosting technique, it is important to note how long the thawed shrimp has been sitting in the fridge. The rule of thumb is refreezing the shrimp as soon as possible.
You can keep defrosted shrimp in the fridge for 1-2 days. Refreeze it in that time period to preserve the quality of the shrimp.
We don’t recommend you refreeze food if you live in a country that doesn’t have access to fresh shrimp.
If this is the case, you should understand that the shrimp in almost all cases arrives frozen to seafood shops and supermarkets in such countries.
Then it is defrosted and displayed as fresh. So, if you have bought shrimp in its fresh form knowing that there is little chance for it to be truly fresh, don’t run the risk of refreezing it.
Buy as much shrimp as you need to cook for the day and opt for frozen packaged shrimp if you need it to be long-lasting.
How Does Refreezing Affect Shrimp?
Like other foods, the texture, flavor, and quality of shrimp deteriorate as a result of refreezing it. You may find refrozen shrimp to be less juicy which is normal.
On the other hand, the texture, flavor, as well as color of the shrimp will be heavily affected if your shrimp gets freezer burnt. To prevent this from happening, you should refreeze the shrimp properly.
How To Refreeze Shrimp
So, refreezing shrimp is not the best idea. But you can do it in case you have defrosted more shrimp than you needed for the meal.
Here is how to refreeze shrimp that you have defrosted in the fridge.
- First off, make sure you are refreezing shrimp that has been defrosted for a maximum of 2 days.
- Then, inspect the shrimp for any signs of spoilage. Never refreeze shrimp that looks or smells off-putting.
- If the shrimps still have their shells on, don’t remove them. The shells act as a protective layer for the flesh. This is more than important for shrimp that is being refrozen.
- Strain the shrimp if they have leaked water as a result of thawing, Do this quickly. The less time the defrosted shrimp spends at room temperature the better.
- Transfer the shrimp into a zip-top bag or airtight container. It is important to choose the right container for freezing shrimp to protect it from getting a freezer burn. An airtight container or bag also protects the shrimp from absorbing odors from other products in the freezer.
- Place the shrimp in the back of the freezer as the temperature there is more stable.
- Label the container with the date. Add a note indicating that the shrimp is refrozen so that you or your family members don’t refreeze it again.
How Long Does Refrozen Shrimp Last?
If you have refrozen shrimp after defrosting it properly, you may keep it in the freezer for 3-6 months just like frozen shrimp. But the sooner you use it the better.
How Can You Tell If Frozen Shrimp Is Bad?
Always inspect the frozen shrimp before using it, especially if you have already defrosted it once. While it is easier to tell if shrimp is bad or not after thawing it, there are a few signs that give away bad shrimp even when it is still frozen.
First off, don’t buy frozen shrimp that comes in damaged or torn packaging. Secondly, don’t use shrimp that is bendable.
And lastly, if you notice any unusual discoloration or mold in the package with shrimp, discard it right away.
With this said, you can tell more accurately if frozen shrimp is bad or not after thawing it. Once you have defrosted the shrimp, smell it.
Good shrimp has a mild oceany smell. It should never have an off-putting smell. Bad shrimp often has a strong fishy or ammonia smell.
Next, closely inspect the shrimp. Good shrimp is shrimp and translucent-looking.
If your shrimp still has the shells on, make sure they are still tightly attached to the flesh, smooth, and firm. If most of the shells have fallen off, discard the shrimp.
Another thing to pay attention to is the color of the flesh. If the shrimp you have is headless, look at the color of the meat. It should be white and never pink. If it’s pink, discard the shrimp.
Lastly, touch the shrimp. If the shrimp feels slimy, discard it.
Can You Refreeze Thawed Cooked Shrimp?
Freezing cooked shrimp is an option too. You can freeze leftover cooked shrimp in airtight containers or bags. Cooked shrimp will last in the freezer for up to 4 months.
It is best not to refreeze cooked shrimp. We recommend you use it immediately after thawing it. Add the already cooked defrosted shrimp into a pot of boiling water along with pasta or toss it into a stir-fry.
You can try refreezing cooked shrimp only if you have defrosted it in the fridge. Additionally, you should refreeze the cooked shrimp as soon as possible.
If you do decide to do this, make sure to check the shrimp for any signs of spoilage when you defrost it later on.
Never refreeze cooked shrimp that you have defrosted at room temperature or in the microwave.
How To Use Refrozen Shrimp
Freezing and defrosting shrimp more than once may affect the texture and flavor of the shellfish. This is why it is recommended to use refrozen shrimp in casseroles, stews, and stir-fries.
Cooking refrozen shrimp is no different from cooking frozen shrimp. You may or may not thaw it before cooking.
As shrimps are small and cook through very quickly, many people struggle with overcooking shrimp. Some sources state that cooking the shrimp without thawing prevents the shrimp from overcooking and leaves it juicy and soft.
You can stir-fry, grill, or steam refrozen shrimp without thawing, or add the shrimp directly into cooking liquids along with other ingredients.
How Many Times Can You Refreeze Shrimp?
Refreezing shrimp once is something you can do if you have thawed the seafood in the fridge and refrozen it within a day or two.
However, refreezing shrimp multiple times is certainly something we don’t recommend you do. Not only will it heavily affect the texture and taste of the shrimp but will also make it unsafe for consumption.
Exposing seafood or meat to temperature fluctuations creates favorable conditions for bacterial growth.
If you’re looking for a delicious way to use your shrimp in a recipe, this video from the folks over at Babish Culinary Universe is a great direction to go in!
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