Mussels definitely divide opinions like no other kind of seafood does. You either love them or you hate them. Because you’ve chosen this article, I’m going to assume you’re in the first camp.
Mussels are fairly cheap to buy, one because they’re much smaller than oysters, and because they’re very easy to obtain.
More often than not, they are farmed, and while this might encourage visions of horror, these mussels are still wild, but they are placed to grow up ropes, which makes them easy to harvest.
They are also a great option if you cannot get oysters or clams (see also Can You Freeze Clam Chowder). Most shellfish need to be eaten pretty much straight away (see also Can You Freeze Cooked Shrimp), and this does apply to mussels.
If you have bought more mussels than you need, you can freeze them, but most seafood experts advise against it.
To discover why you may want to only eat the mussels fresh, or why freezing them can make sense in your situation, how to freeze them, and how to thaw them, keep reading.
Should You Freeze Mussels?
Mussels may change dramatically once frozen and thawed, especially if you store them for a longer period. This is why most people advise against freezing them.
Some people only like their mussels fresh, and it entirely depends on your personal preference.
To prevent extreme changes occurring in mussels, you need to make sure you prepare the mussels for freezing properly, and you need to be careful how you do it.
You need to be especially mindful of the risk of contamination, as this can lead to a nasty case of food poisoning, and an extended hospital stay. Luckily, this is easily avoided.
Fresh mussels will last for a maximum of 3 days, but to be on the safe side, eat them on the day you get them.
Successfully freezing mussels (see also Can You Freeze Oysters) will extend the shelf life to about 4 months, but you’re better off aiming to use them within a month of freezing to prevent any major changes taking place within the mussels.
How Do You Freeze Mussels?
How To Prepare Live Mussels For The Freezer
The first thing you need to do is wash the live shellfish under running water, while discarding any dead mussels, any that seem too light, or those that have broken shells.
Don’t be afraid to be picky here, you don’t want to risk cooking an already-dead mussel with the fresh ones, as this will lead to food poisoning.
A good way to check if they’re dead or not is to lightly tap an open shell against the sink, or press it together with your fingers. If it comes open again, discard it.
Submerge them in cold water, and use wire wool to get rid of anything on the shells that shouldn’t be there.
Discard the water, and wash the mussels again. Pull any bearding off the mussels, and again, check any with open shells to make sure they are still alive.
Place the mussels – shell and all – into heavy-duty freezer bags, preferably in a single layer, but you can stack them if you need to.
Get rid of as much excess air as possible, seal the bag, and label it. Store it in the freezer, and this will kill the mussels.
How To Cook And Then Freeze Mussels
If you’d prefer to cook the mussels before you freeze them, clean them as you normally would like in the above method.
Put the mussels into a large saucepan, and boil for 3 minutes in total, stirring now and then. Get rid of any shells that haven’t opened.
Strain the mussels from the water – you can use the water for making broth, if you like – and let them cool.
De-shell each one, and put the mussels inside a suitable airtight container or freezer bag. Label it, and freeze it.
How Do You Thaw Frozen Mussels Safely?
Put the whole container into the fridge straight away, and let the mussels defrost overnight. Thawing them gradually helps to preserve the consistency and flavor.
Once thawed, mussels can be kept in the fridge for a maximum of 2 days, but aim to use them straight away. If they smell odd, or look completely different, bin them.
Once the mussels have completely thawed, you can cook them normally.
Mussels are great shellfish that work in a number of different dishes, but they barely last more than a day at the best of times.
It’s worth freezing them to prolong the shelf-life of these tasty shellfish (see also Can You Freeze Lobster Tails?), and to be able to have them when you want them.
It also helps that you can shell and cook them before you freeze them, doing all the hard work ahead of time, which also cuts down on the final cooking time of whatever dish you choose to make.