Mussels are a delicious and nutritious type of seafood that many people enjoy. They have a rich, briny flavor that pairs well with pasta, rice, and sauces. Mussels are an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.
When mussels are in season or on sale at the market, you may be wondering if you can freeze them to enjoy their taste and nutrients later. The good news is that properly frozen mussels can last for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Below, you’ll find a complete guide to freezing and storing mussels so you can keep their texture and flavor intact.
We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about freezing mussels at the end. Let’s dive in!
Pros and Cons of Freezing Mussels
Freezing mussels can make it quick and easy to enjoy their taste at any time. However, there are a few advantages and disadvantages to keeping mussels in the freezer.
- Saves money by allowing you to buy mussels in bulk when they are on sale.
- Saves time by giving you ready-to-cook mussels whenever you want them.
- Let’s enjoy mussels out of season when fresh mussels are limited.
- Locks in flavor and texture when frozen properly.
- Can result in a watery texture if not frozen correctly.
- Can lead to freezer burn, which dries out mussels.
- Requires advance preparation like cleaning and de-bearding.
- Can alter taste slightly compared to fresh mussels
As long as you take steps to freeze mussels properly, the pros usually outweigh the cons. Freezing gives you affordable, ready-to-use mussels at any time.
How to Prepare and Freeze Mussels
Follow these steps for perfect frozen mussels:
- Buy fresh, live mussels. Make sure the shells are tightly closed and the mussels look plump. Discard any with cracked shells.
- De-beard mussels by pulling off the stringy “beard” where the shells meet. Rinse well.
- Blanch mussels by steaming for 2-3 minutes, just until the shells open. Drain and let cool.
- Remove the mussel meat from the shells. Discard any unopened mussels.
- Portion mussels in amounts you’ll use, like 1 cup. Place them in freezer bags or airtight containers.
- Remove the air and seal the bags. Flatten to freeze evenly.
- Freeze for up to 3 months at 0°F or below. Place in the freezer immediately after sealing.
This process prepares tender, high-quality frozen mussels. Blanching before freezing cooks the mussels just enough to open the shells for easy removal.
Thawing and Cooking Frozen Mussels
Thaw frozen mussels properly to keep their texture best.
- In the fridge overnight
- In a bowl of cold water for 2-3 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes.
- In the microwave on the defrost setting, if cooking immediately after
Avoid thawing at room temperature, as this can cause bacteria to grow.
To cook thawed mussels, you can:
- Sauté in a pan with wine, garlic, broth, and herbs.
- Add to pasta, rice, soup, or stew in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Bake in a casserole topped with breadcrumbs and cheese.
Cook thawed mussels just until heated through, about 5 minutes max. Overcooking can make them rubbery.
How Long Do Mussels Last in the Freezer?
When stored at 0°F or below, properly frozen mussels maintain the best quality for:
- Raw mussels in shells: 2-3 months
- Shucked mussel meat: 3 months
For optimal flavor and texture, use frozen mussels within these time frames.
dates and organizing your freezer to use older mussels first.
Freeze mussels in airtight packaging to prevent freezer burn. Discard any mussels with signs of frost or dried-out spots.
Tips for Freezing Mussels
Follow these tips for delicious frozen mussels every time:
- Use fresh, high-quality mussels. Check for tightly closed shells without cracks.
- Portion mussels in usable amounts, like 1 cup servings. Avoid freezing a huge block.
- Remove as much air as possible and seal bags tightly to prevent freezer burn.
- Label packages with the contents and freeze-by date so you know what’s inside.
- Freeze mussels immediately after cleaning and packing to retain freshness.
- Rotate frozen mussels to use older packages first. Don’t let any exceed 3 months frozen.
- Thaw mussels properly in the fridge or cold water, not at room temperature.
- Cook thawed mussels just until heated through, about 5 minutes, to avoid a rubbery texture.
Following best practices for preparing, freezing, thawing, and cooking mussels will result in delicious frozen mussels that taste just-cooked fresh!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you freeze live mussels?
It’s not recommended to freeze whole, live mussels. Freezing live shellfish can burst their cells and create an undesirable texture. Blanch or steam mussels just until the shells open before freezing for best quality.
Can you freeze cooked mussels?
Yes, cooked mussel meat can be frozen successfully. Blanch or steam mussels in the shell, remove the meat, and freeze it in portioned quantities in airtight bags. Cooked frozen mussels keep for 2–3 months.
Can you freeze mussel meat in the shell?
It’s best to remove mussel meat from the shell before freezing. Freezing in-shell can damage the meat’s texture. Steam mussels until open, remove the meat, and freeze just the meat in serving portions.
What is the best way to thaw frozen mussels?
For food safety, thaw frozen mussels in the refrigerator overnight. You can also submerge the frozen mussels in a bowl of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until they are thawed. Avoid thawing at room temperature.
How do you know if frozen mussels are bad?
Signs that frozen mussels have gone bad include an unpleasant or ammonia odor, mushy texture, broken shells, or milky liquid oozing from the mussels. Safely discard any mussels with these characteristics.
Can frozen mussels make you sick?
Properly frozen and thawed mussels that are cooked thoroughly should not make you sick. Only eat mussels that are fresh before freezing and have no signs of spoilage after thawing. Discard any mussels with a bad smell or appearance.
Can you re-freeze mussels after thawing?
It is unsafe to re-freeze mussels after they have been thawed. Bacteria can start growing once the mussels are thawed. Cook thawed mussels within 1-2 days and do not refreeze for food safety.
Freezing mussels allows you to enjoy their fantastic taste at any time while saving money and avoiding waste.
Follow the proper preparation, freezing, thawing, and cooking methods outlined to get the most from your frozen mussels. Store them correctly and use them within the recommended timelines for delicious make-at-home meals with frozen mussels.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.