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Shrimp are delicious, versatile, and easy to cook. You can eat shrimp hot, cold, grilled, sautéed, or baked. It helps that you can purchase shrimp fresh, precooked, and frozen raw shrimp. Purchasing a bag of frozen shrimp is one of the best alternatives for those who can’t buy fresh. And, for many reasons, you sometimes end up with thawed shrimp and can’t help but wonder, “Can you refreeze shrimp?” Let’s find out.
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Can You Refreeze Shrimp?
Yes, refreezing thawed shrimp is possible—if you do it the right way. Like most perishable items, thawing them out introduces them to bacteria. Therefore, you have to follow a series of steps to ensure your shrimp remain safe to consume after refreezing them.
Is It Safe to Refreeze Shrimp?
Generally, it is safe to refreeze shrimp, as long as you thaw them safely. You do this by opening the package of frozen shrimps and pouring them into a plastic bag. Submerge them in a bowl of cold water. Let the shrimp soak for about 40-45 minutes until the ice has melted.
The other way is to put the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator; wait about 24 hours.
If you thaw the shrimp either of those two ways, they don’t have to be cooked before freezing them. Shrimp that are thawed any other way will need to be cooked to kill off any bacteria before being refrozen.
The Danger Zone
Frozen foods are often frozen because you can’t keep them at room temperature without them spoiling. The same is true for shrimp. Look at any food safety site or pamphlet, and you will see that the danger zone for perishable food is between 40-140 degrees F (4.4-60 degrees C).
If you want your thawed shrimp safe to refreeze, be sure to limit the time they spend within that temperature range. For instance, keep the shrimp on ice or in the fridge while you’re preparing to cook them.
How to Safely Refreeze Shrimp
Now that you know the answer to “can you refreeze shrimp” is yes, you need to know the process for refreezing shrimp correctly. After all, you don’t want to end up sick.
First and foremost, preserve the freshness of the shrimp by letting them cool in the fridge (if you haven’t already). Even slightly warm shrimp will produce steam. The steam causes moisture to build up, eventually causing freezer burn.
With that in mind, here are two ways to refreeze shrimp:
Steps to Properly Refreeze Raw Shrimp
- Cool the shrimp if they have been exposed to temperatures within the danger zone. Wash them in cold water.
- Remove the heads and veining down the back.
- Wash the shrimp in cold, salted water. Pat dry.
- Place the shrimp in air-tight containers.
- Label the containers with the date. Place them in the freezer.
Another Way to Refreeze Shrimp
- If the shrimp are warm, cook them thoroughly.
- Let the cooked shrimp cool. Do not let them sit at room temperature for longer than 1-2 hours, even cooked.
- Place the shrimp in an airtight freezer bag or container. Date the container before putting it in the freezer.
How Long Can Thawed Shrimp Be Refrozen?
Once you have refrozen your previously thawed shrimp, it’s important to keep tabs on the shelf life. Refrozen shrimp are only good for one to two days. This is partially due to an amount of irreversible spoilage.
The time the shrimp spent thawed will affect how long they can stay in the freezer. Make a note on the container so you know that they’ve been refrozen and don’t forget to use them before it’s too late.
A Note on Refrozen Quality
A shrimp is predominantly made of muscle, and muscle requires a high amount of water to maintain. When shrimp are frozen, the water in the cells starts to expand, exactly as you’d expect from ice. This is why some bags of frozen shrimp are so frosty on the inside.
As the shrimp thaw, that frozen water seeps free from the meat. This leaves the shrimp drier and blander. When you refreeze them again, there is even less moisture, meaning the shrimp meat might become mushy when you go to cook it.
If you love the characteristic firmness of fresh shrimps, you might not like the quality of refrozen shrimps. The best way to use twice-thawed seafood is in soups or sauces.
The Bottom Line on Refreezing Shrimp
Can you refreeze shrimp? Yes, you can. However, this generally depends on how the shrimp thawed out. If you let the raw shrimp thaw safely in the refrigerator, you can refreeze them. But, if the shrimps unfroze any other way, you need to cook them first to kill off bacteria. Don’t ever skip that step, and use those refrozen shrimp as soon as you can.
Can you refreeze frozen shrimp once thawed?
Yes, you can refreeze shrimp that have thawed. If the shrimp were kept in the refrigerator, rinse them in salted cold water, pat dry, and put the shrimp in a freezer bag or container. If the shrimp are warm, you will need to cook them thoroughly before refreezing them. Make sure you use those refrozen shrimp within one to two days, even if they have been refrozen.
Is it bad to refreeze shrimp?
While refrozen shrimp are generally safe to eat when refrozen properly, they do spoil much more quickly. Plus, you have to consider the impact on quality. Frozen shrimp are less firm than fresh shrimp and won’t taste as good.
Can you refreeze previously frozen seafood?
Yes, you can refreeze previously frozen seafood, including shrimp. If kept in the fridge, thawed seafood can be placed back in the freezer. You need to do this carefully. Any food that has been exposed to room temperature for more than two hours cannot be refrozen. It may be spoiled.