Mussels may be considered an acquired taste since not everybody likes their taste and texture but in recent years, they rose to fame as an impressively healthy dietary product.
Seafood, in general, truly stands out when it comes to nutrition and health benefits but most types of seafood require extra attention in the preparation and later on, with the storage.
Mussels are no different. Whatever your plans for mussels are, may it be freezing or cooking, you need to be quick about it if you do not want to risk food poisoning.
With this said, how do you reheat mussels? You can reheat mussels by removing them from their shells and microwaving them quickly on a small plate covered with a damp paper towel. You should always reheat mussels separately from any broth or dish they are a part of, adding them after the rest of the dish is reheated.
If you try to reheat the entire dish together, we can guarantee that in most cases, the mussels will lose their texture and taste.
There are several safe ways to reheat them without risking food poisoning or loss of texture and taste.
With this said, continue reading below for our full guide on how to reheat mussels.
A Complete Guide to Reheating Mussels
Mussels are part of the seafood family of mollusks. Cultivated thousands of years ago by the ancient cultures, they are extremely sustainable and nutrient-packed which makes them a favorite to many who follow a healthy lifestyle.
Although there are numerous types of mussels, most people hardly recognize them unless they are extremely familiar with the species. Out of all, Mediterranean mussels are the most commonly found type in stores although you can easily find others especially if you live near the sea or ocean.
Handling mussels the correct way is crucial if you want to avoid food poisoning or more severe illnesses. However, handling fresh mussels is a topic for another time which is not connected to our discussion today.
Now, we will focus on already cooked mussels that you need to reheat in a proper and safe way.
How to Reheat Mussels
As mentioned in the beginning, you can reheat mussels alone or as part of a dish but the different methods require different actions. In each case, the process includes several steps that need to be followed unless you want to end up with bad-tasting mussels.
Here are the two most common cases:
Reheating mussels alone
In case you plan on eating the mussels alone, you must, in all cases, take them out of their shells beforehand.
Pre-cooked mussels tend to become tough and unpleasantly chewy which is why you need to remove the shells in order to prevent them from drying out.
People often make the mistake to reheat them on a large plate but we recommend using as small of a plate as you can. The key is to keep the mussels condensed. This is the most efficient way to keep them moist and prevent any drying which leads to loss of taste.
The second most important thing is to prepare a damp paper towel to cover the pile of mussels to additionally keep as much moisture as possible. As long as they are condensed and covered, you can throw them in the microwave.
Make sure to set the microwave to low power, ideally around 30% if your microwave allows such settings. Reheat for 15 to 20 seconds at a time and check after every round.
You can reheat them as much as you like but overheating them is not advisable as it will dry them out or you will need to consume them quickly as they will lose their quality once their temperature decreases.
Reheating with a broth or other dishes
The most ideal way to reheat mussels is with a broth or any similar dish although it could require a little bit of extra work.
To do this, you need to separate the mussels from the broth or dish. Keep them aside while you reheat the accompanying dish. Make sure to remove the shells if they are still intact.
Ideally, you should reheat your dish to the necessary temperature on the stove. Once it is warm enough, remove from the stove and add the mussels.
We recommend heating your food until significantly warm since moderate temperatures will not be sufficient enough for the mussels later.
As long as your broth or dish is well heated, it should be enough to reheat your mussels well enough without any risk of drying out or loss of quality. Make sure to stir well so that every mussel goes through the center.
It does not matter if you have a broth in front of you or any other food like pasta, for example. The principal is the same and you should never add the mussels before the remaining food has been reheated.
How long do cooked mussels keep?
Before anything else, we need to mention that cooked mussels need to be placed in a refrigerator no more than two hours after cooking.
If you leave them more than that, we recommend to discard them. While they could still be good and healthy, you can never be sure with bacteria growth.
Other than that, you can safely store the mussels in the fridge for up to 5 days. However, you need to make sure to place them in an airtight container.
You can use freezer wrap or high-quality aluminum foil but we recommend against it to extend the shelf life of your mussels.
If you are uncertain whether you will eat them within these few days or not, we suggest freezing the mussels in which way they would normally retain their quality for 2-3 months.
Once you plan to use the mussels and you need to thaw them, we recommend leaving them in the refrigerator overnight. Fortunately, you can keep mussels in the fridge for several days even after freezing and thawing them.
How to tell if mussels are bad?
The simplest way to know if your mussels are unfit to eat is to smell them and look at them.
If you detect any sour smell within the pile of mussels, dispose of the entire batch. Likewise, if the mussels appear to be slimy, they are most likely bad.
Mussels that cannot open should be discarded. It normally means that the mussel is dead and particularly unhealthy to eat.
What happens if you eat bad mussels?
Food poisoning from seafood is among the most dangerous types of food poisoning and could lead to severe illnesses. This is why it is extremely important to cook your mussels as quickly as possible after purchase.
Since we cannot go deep into the medical terminology as it is not our area of expertise, we can only name the common symptoms and how to react if you experience food poisoning from seafood.
In the case of eating contaminated mussels, you can expect reactions like vomiting and diarrhea. This is normally the first stage of the problem which is then followed by numbness in the mouth and headaches. Some people also experience a temporary fever.
How long does it take to experience the first symptoms? Usually, it would take several hours but there are cases when people realize it within 48 hours. This is considerably problematic since you may not realize that the food poisoning comes from the mussels or seafood and you may overlook it and end up with a bigger problem.
While shellfish poisoning is not necessarily severe, if you or the people around you experience sudden symptoms that do not decline shortly, we recommend getting emergency medical assistance.
If you can, call the local emergency service and consult with the poison control department.
How to properly freeze mussels
When it comes to mussels, you can freeze mussels that are either fresh and cooked. The principle is identical.
If you plan to freeze fresh ones, remember that you need to be quick. Just like fresh mussels need to be cooked within hours of buying, we recommend freezing them on the same day as well.
Make sure that all mussels are closed or as closed as possible. If you see any mussels that cannot be closed, we recommend to discard them as they can ruin the entire pack later.
Prepare a heavy-duty freezer bag or several smaller ones and start filling them with your mussels. Make sure to leave some headspace and take out as much air as possible.
If you want to add a second layer of protection from freezer burn, put the freezer bag in a second one and release as much air as possible.
Try to store the mussels as further away as possible from the freezer door to keep them from temperature changes.
Consume the mussels within 2–3 months if you are keen on quality. They will last much longer in a freezer and be safe to eat but not with the same fresh quality.
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