When there’s a big sale on oysters, and you would like to buy a dozen of them or more, but you’re not sure that you’ll eat them all within a week, what should you do? Oysters are known for being in season from the months of September to April. The best tasting and most plentiful meat in oysters is found in cold water. The better quality oysters overall will be found in cold water and during those months.
However, if you really love eating oysters and consider yourself an enthusiast of this food, you may decide that you would like to buy oysters during the off-season as well. If you see a big sale for a bag of oysters in your local supermarket and it’s in June during the off-season, you may want to stock up and enjoy the larger quantity of cheaper oysters. However, how do you preserve these oysters for eating over a long period of time? Can you freeze oysters?
Can You Freeze Oysters?
The answer is yes. Freezing is a viable option especially if you aren’t able to eat all of your oysters within a week of buying them in the store. However, there are certain things you should know before freezing the oysters.
Uses for Oysters
Fresh and raw oysters are known to taste delicious and are best served that way. Freezing the oysters may change the texture and the flavor of the oysters themselves. However, storing the oysters in the freezer is a much better option than just throwing them in the garbage can and wasting your hard-earned money. Even after freezing the oysters, you can still shuck and slurp them as you normally would.
Oysters can be frozen in their shell and also frozen even after they’ve been separated from their clamshell. It’s important to note that oysters can be served with oyster liquor sauce. Oysters can be used for stuffing, seafood stews and chowders among other recipes. You can also fry and boil them after freezing to be used for sandwiches like po-boys. Remember that it is vitally important to thaw out the oysters properly after the freezing process. You cannot eat frozen oysters and you must thaw them properly before eating.
The Freezing Process
Depending on how much space you have in your freezer, you will have to decide whether or not it would be better to freeze the oysters in their shells or without their shells. You’ll have more room in the freezer without the shells but you would have to spend more time shucking them as a result. For oysters, you should freeze them for a period of between one to three months total.
During the freezing process for oysters, please remember to adhere to the following steps:
- If you decide to freeze the oysters in their shell, remember to clean the mud, sand, or any residual material from the exterior and interior before freezing can begin. When they are completely clean, they will be safe and tasty for you to eat.
- If you decide to freeze the oysters without their shells after shucking, make sure to freeze them immediately afterwards after adding oyster liquor or any sauce to soak them in.
- Wash the shells and the oysters thoroughly and check to see if any of the oysters have already died before freeing can begin.
- Place the oysters in moisture-resistant bags that are compatible with freezers. Make sure to remove any excess air from the bags before sealing them.
- Divide the oysters into separate individual bags and add any oyster liquor, water and other ingredients before freezing can begin.
- Mark and label with a permanent marker the date of first freezing for the oysters so you can keep track of how many days / months they have been frozen for.
The Thawing Process
Because oysters are known for being a highly perishable food item, it is important to make sure that you defrost them properly. For those oysters that have ingredients like oyster liquor mixed in there, it would be advantageous to place them in tightly-sealed containers after moving them directly from the freezer bags for defrosting. This is done to make sure that you don’t lose any of the liquor or other ingredients by moving the oysters to the container.
When you directly move the oysters from the freezer to the refrigerator, it will take between twenty to twenty-four hours for the oysters to thaw out completely. After you defrost and thaw the oysters, it is recommend that you cook them thoroughly on the same day in order to retain the flavor and texture that may have changed during the freezing process.
Additionally, eating raw or partly cooked oysters poses significant problems to some individuals who have these predisposed medical conditions:
- Chronic alcohol abuse
- Liver disease
- Steroid dependancy
- Inflammatory stomach and bowel diseases
It is also not advisable to refreeze your oysters once they have been frozen and thawed out once already. If you are not able to use the oysters after freezing and they’re taking up ample space in your refrigerator, it may be best to throw them out or give them away to a friend or family member. Freezing oysters successfully will allow you to use them for recipes the whole calendar year and give you the opportunity to use new and interesting recipes for you and your family.