Can you freeze squid? Freezing method and guide

If you visit a seafood restaurant in the US, squid or calamari is the most popular starter for any meal. But suid has more to offer than calamari rings and makes for a perfect food for the BBQ. The tentacles are tender and yummy, and the body is succulent if cooked right. Don’t forget the gorgeous and delicious stuffed squid, which can be the centerpiece of any meal. But how can you store squid long term?

Did you know 500 species of squid live in all of the world’s oceans? And the colossal squid has eyes the size of dinner plates! This tasty cephalopod can be a fierce predator and even give whales a tough time.

If you enjoy seafood, calamari must be on your shopping list, but how can you store this seafood long-term without damaging the texture of the squid? In this article, we explore squid and how you can keep it fresh for a longer period. We answer many frequently asked questions bringing you factual information about squid.

Let’s dive in.

Does squid expire?

Squid has a very short shelf life of 2 days maximum stored in the fridge and should be eaten as soon as you get home for the peak quality of the flesh. If you can’t cook straight away, squid must be cold.

Unlike other seafood, squid is very delicate. Even though it looks like a monster from the depths, it will not last as long as fish or crustaceans in the fridge, so be prepared to get the BBQ fired up or get the pan on and ready to cook.

If you have packers of breaded calamari rings, don’t be fooled by the appearance of calamari; it is squid and has the same shelf life of two days.

If you have fresh squid from the fish market, it should be cleaned immediately when you are in your kitchen, remove the gladius or pen (the hard part that supports the squid’s body) and then peel off the skin.

Cut the head and tentacles off and remove the beak keeping the tentacles in one piece. Wash the squid, place them in an airtight bag with ice, and then place them in the fridge.

Because squid has such a short shelf life, it’s worth knowing what recipe you have in mind for the squid so you can jump right in there and start preparing the squid for a meal.

If you have cooked squid in an airtight container stirred in a colder-than-average fridge, then you may have up to three days of shelf life.

Does squid need to be refrigerated?

Yes. The clocking is ticking to when the squid will be inedible. Squid is delicate and will go bad within a few days, so move quickly if you have squid in your shopping bag.

Keep the temperature of the fridge low at around 33℉. This will help keep the squid in good shape.

Not only does squid need to be in the fridge, but it should also be on a bed of crushed ice to keep the squid fresh. Placing the squid in the fridge is often not enough to keep it super fresh.

Using something like a Ziploc bag with ice will be good enough to store your squid, but you will need to keep topping up the ice and drawing the water.

If you have breaded calamari rings, leave them in the packaging they were supplied with. Place them in a cold fridge; the shelf life is the same for two days.

There are food safety issues. Thawed squid should be treated the same as fresh squid. Keep it cold and use it within two days, don’t be tempted to refreeze squid.

If you have leftover cooked squid placed in an airtight container and put in the fridge, the shelf life stored this way will be three days.

Does squid need to be covered? Does it make a difference?

It’s good practice to cover the squid in the fridge, and it makes sense that anything so delicate with a short shelf life would benefit from being covered when in the fridge. If you store the squid in an airtight container, you could cover it with ice before sealing the lid tightly.

Store thawed squid in an airtight container and use it within two days of being thawed.

If you have store-bought calamari and it is in its original packaging, store it that way and use it within two days.

It’s recommended to store cooked calamari or stuffed squid in an airtight container and consume it within three days.

Can you put warm squid/calamari in the fridge?

No. Let the squid/ calamari cool to room temperature before placing it in the fridge. Once you introduce heat into the fridge, the interior temperature could rise. For food safety reasons, warm food should not be placed in the fridge.

Your fridge temperature hovers just below 4℉. Temperatures above this are considered to be the food danger zone. The food danger zone is a temperature range from 40 to 140℉.

In this temperature range, bacterial growth accelerates. After just two hours, the bacteria will have reached significant levels, potentially making the fish or any other food stirred in the fridge inedible due to its risk of causing food poisoning.

Only place foods that have cooled to room temperature in the fridge.

How long can squid sit out?

Two hours. Cooked or uncooked, the same principles apply to squid/calamari as they do to other perishable foods. If the food is sitting in the danger zone, the bacterial growth will be substantial and could make the food poisonous if left out for two hours.

According to the USDA, any perishable product has a shelf life of two hours sitting out before it becomes inedible and potentially dangerous to consume due to the proliferation of bacteria. 

These foods should be discarded.

How long does squid last in the fridge?

Fresh quid will last for two days, thawed squid will last for two days, and uncooked calamari rings will last for three days.

Cooked squid should last for three days. 

All Of the above will depend on how fresh the squid or calamari is. If it’s not fresh, then the shelf life will be shorter.

Does frozen squid go bad?

No. For all of the shortcomings of the short shelf life of squid, it’s one of the best seafood to freeze, with a long shelf life of a year plus in the freezer.

The moisture content in the squid’s flesh is very low. This prevents ice crystals from forming that would crush the flesh and make it mushy, like shrimp that have not been frozen quickly.

Method and guide to freezing fresh squid

Many fresh squids will be cleaned on board the fishing boat and then stored on ice before it reaches the fish market or retailer. If you are squeamish about cleaning squid, ask the fishmonger to clean it for you, it’s a simple process if you know what you are doing. 

Assuming the squid is clean and ready for the freezer, follow the below steps for freezing.

  • Decide if you want whole squids or squid that has been cut into pieces, such as calamari rings, you may want to separate the tentacles and the rings for easy portion control.
  • You will need to firm up the squid by flash freezing. Place the squid on grease-proof paper on a tray, ensuring they are not touching. Place in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours.
  • Retrieve the tray from the freezer and remove the squid.
  • Put the squid in a freezer-proof Ziploc bag or similar, squeeze as much air as possible from the bag, and seal it tight.
  • Mark the Ziploc bags with the freezing date and place them in the freezer.

Freezing cooked squid

  • Ensure that the squid is cool before freezing. But keep in mind the food danger zone and prevent the squid from sitting out too long, which will introduce bacteria into the equation that could be problematic as you move forward in the process.
  • Place the cooked squid in a freezer bag, like a Ziploc. Remove as much of the air from the bag as possible and seal it tight. Removing the air from the bag will help prevent freezer burn.
  • Mark the bag with the freezing date and the contents.
  • Put the cooked squid in the freezer.

Cooked squid has a shorter shelf life of 3 months for the peak quality to remain, but it can be stored longer if required.

How to thaw frozen squid

Because of shelf life issues, don’t place the squid in the fridge to thaw. It will take hours. It’s easy to place the frozen squid in a water bowl for fast thawing.

It’s essential not to refreeze squid once thawed, and it may have bacteria growth.

Final thoughts

Squid or calamari is delicate and delicious. It has a disappointing shelf life in the fridge but freezes very well. Frozen squid is cheap and often a great buy at the grocery store.

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