Frozen shrimp are a great option for a quick and tasty meal. However, loose wrapping can lead to freezer burn, a condition where the shrimp become dehydrated and develop a dry and tough texture.
If you have freezer-burnt shrimp in your freezer, you may be wondering if it’s safe to eat them. And even if you decide that the shrimp are safe, you may be curious about how to salvage their texture and taste.
Are Freezer-Burnt Shrimp Safe to Eat?
Freezer-burnt shrimp is safe to eat, although the affected shrimp may not have the same texture and flavor as fresh shrimp. As long as the shrimp were frozen at 0°F (-18°C) when they were safe to eat, they should not pose any health risk.1USDA (2013, June 15). Freezing and Food Safety. Food Safety and Inspection Service. Retrieved April 27, 2023, from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/freezing-and-food-safety
As noted on the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) website, freezer burn is a food quality issue rather than a food safety issue. Freezer burn is what happens when freezer-cold air comes into contact with loosely wrapped shrimp in the freezer.
Because the shrimp were loosely wrapped, they may have also absorbed other odors present in the freezer. If the freezer burn is severe and has caused the shrimp to become excessively dry and leathery, you may want to cut off the affected areas or discard the freezer-burnt shrimp altogether.
Can You Salvage Freezer-Burnt Shrimp?
It’s important to acknowledge that no amount of seasoning can effectively mask the impact of freezer burn on shrimp. The root of the problem is that the affected areas of the shrimp will not have the same texture or taste as they would have when they were fresh.
To salvage freezer-burnt shrimp, you can try peeling off the white spots or cutting off the affected parts. Alas, even after removing the affected areas, the shrimp may still have a slightly degraded texture. To enhance the flavor and improve the mouthfeel, consider pairing the shrimp with a glaze or savory sauce.
One sauce to pair with freezer-burnt shrimp is garlic butter sauce.
To make the sauce, simply melt some butter in a pan, then add minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Next, add a splash of white wine and let the mixture simmer down for a few minutes.
Finally, pour the sauce over the cooked shrimp and garnish with some fresh parsley or chopped scallions. The rich buttery flavor and garlicky aroma of the sauce will not only mask the degraded texture of the shrimp but also add depth and complexity to the dish.
How to Protect Shrimp From Freezer Burn
To protect shrimp from freezer burn when storing them in your home freezer, wrap them tightly so that they don’t come into contact with the freezer’s cold, circulating air.
You can wrap the shrimp tightly in plastic wrap or seal them in freezer bags. The trick to getting this right is to press out as much air as possible before sealing out the package. If you’re using plastic wrap, consider double-wrapping the shrimp to provide extra protection.
Label the date of freezing to keep track of the shelf life of your frozen shrimp. As a general rule, it’s best not to let the shrimp sit in the freezer for too long. While food frozen at 0°F (-18°C) will always be safe, the longer the shrimp stay frozen, the greater the chance of them getting affected by freezer burn.2Lynch, K. (2022, October 24). Keep make-ahead freezer meals safe. Safe Food & Water. Retrieved April 27, 2023, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/keep_make_ahead_freezer_meals_safe
It’s a good idea to use up frozen shrimp within 3 to 6 months. Beyond this time frame, the taste and texture of the shrimp may degrade, and they may develop freezer burn. By using your frozen shrimp within this time frame and taking steps to protect them from freezer burn, you can ensure that they remain fresh and delicious for your next meal.
So you have freezer-burnt shrimp in your freezer? As long as they were safe to eat when you froze them, they are still edible. However, the affected areas may not have the same texture or flavor as fresh shrimp, so you may want to peel or cut off those areas before cooking or serving.
- 1USDA (2013, June 15). Freezing and Food Safety. Food Safety and Inspection Service. Retrieved April 27, 2023, from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/freezing-and-food-safety
- 2Lynch, K. (2022, October 24). Keep make-ahead freezer meals safe. Safe Food & Water. Retrieved April 27, 2023, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/keep_make_ahead_freezer_meals_safe