With social distancing strongly encouraged and many cities adopting a shelter in place policy, folks are stocking up on groceries like never before.
Canned goods and other nonperishables are important to keep just in case, of course. But if you’re cooking for yourself—and especially if you’re cooking for a family—you might want to make good use of your freezer, too. And that means you can store plenty of Alabama Gulf Seafood for the days ahead.
Here are a few tips for freezing your Gulf product so that you can enjoy it later on.
Stock Up on Freezer Bags or a Vacuum Sealer
No matter what kind of product you’ll be freezing, there’s one rule that remains consistent: air is your enemy. A vacuum sealer is ideal to removing every speck of air, but if you don’t have one of those, get some high-quality freezer bags and do your best to remove all air from the bag before sticking it in the freezer. Might want to write the date on the bag while you’re at it.
Prepare Your Product Adequately Before Freezing
We all enjoy Gulf oysters on the half shell, cracking our own crabs, or even preparing and eating a whole fish. But when it comes to freezing your Alabama product, that’s a luxury you just don’t have. Freezing raw shrimp in their shell is encouraged to preserve flavor (after removing the head), but we would advise against freezing oysters or blue crabs in their shell. And make sure you gut and fillet any finfish before freezing.
Rinse and Submerge Your Product in Salt Water
Some recommend submerging your product in salt water before freezing it, finfish and shrimp in particular. (For oysters, you’ll want to submerge them in their own liquor; for crabmeat, you’ll want to use 2% or whole milk.) But if you decide not to submerge your product, make sure you’re still rinsing it with cold salt water so that you’re not freezing any dirt or grit along with it.
Set Your Freezer to the Coldest Possible Setting
The colder the better, generally speaking. Oysters in particular have to be stored in 0 degree temperatures or colder. And if you’re submerging your product in water or milk before freezing it, you’ll want to make sure it freezes as quickly as possible.
Thaw Your Product in the Fridge, Not at Room Temperature
When it’s time to thaw and prepare your product, don’t wait until the last minute and thaw your Gulf seafood on the counter at room temperature. Switch it to the fridge the morning before dinner time; some will recommend submerging the bag in a bowl of cold water as well. Keep in mind, oysters will take longer than other product, so give them a full 24 hours to thaw.
Don’t Leave Your Product in the Freezer for Too Long
Freezing your Alabama Gulf Seafood will give you a good window of time before it spoils, but some product lasts longer than others. Crabmeat will keep for up to 3 months, as will fatty fish (greater than 4%) like Tuna, Mackerel, and Pompano. Gulf oysters should keep between 3-6 months. Gulf shrimp and lean fish like Red Snapper, Grouper, Flounder, and Mahi-Mahi will keep for up to 6 months.
Our Gulf fishermen and processors are hurting like many other workers in times like these, so we hope you’ll continue to support our industry by buying fresh Alabama Gulf Seafood and freezing even more for weeks later.
And if you need a break from the kitchen, check out our list of restaurants who are taking curbside orders until things return to normal.