Can you freeze Crawfish? How to store Crawfish properly

Crawfish is a favorite among Americans and Asians. With millions of pounds of crawfish being harvested and sold every year in the US, it’s hardly surprising that with a short season for harvesting crawfish, more people want to know the best way to store these delicious crustaceans so they can be enjoyed throughout the summer.

Crayfish, Crawfish, Crawdads, and even mudbugs. These little critters look like lobsters, but taste like a hybrid shrimp come crab. A typical crawfish boil includes andouille sausage, onions, potatoes and corn, and of course, a whole lot of crawfish.

This article will provide information on how to store Crawfish and discover if the little critters can be frozen for any length of time. We answer frequently asked questions to improve your knowledge of crawfish.

Let’s dive in.

Do crawfish expire?

Crawfish do expire. If you are storing fresh crawfish, they need to be cooked within two days, if not sooner. If you decide to purge your fresh crawfish by adding salt to the bucket where they are stored, the crawfish will inevitably die quickly. If they are freshwater crawfish, copy these crawfish immediately after they have been purged.

Cooked crawfish as part of your boil will likely be consumed, but if you do have leftovers, they can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for four days.

However, storing cooked crawfish seems easy. There is a little bit more to the process than meets the eye. It’s easy to lose track of time when sitting eating crawfish with friends, a few drinks, some great company, and a conversation can see hours just roll on by.

However, crawfish should not be sitting out for more than two hours in the ambient temperature, be it room temp or outdoors in the sun.

According to the USDA, two hours or more sitting out perishable foods will have exposed them to bacterial load conditions that have accelerated exponentially, rendering the mudbugs inedible. If you eat mudbugs after two hours of sitting out, you risk contracting food poisoning.

Once the crawfish boil is over, gather the leftovers and place them in an airtight container so you can continue enjoying the delicious meat over the next few days.

Do Crawfish need to be refrigerated?

It depends on how many will be eaten after cooking. It’s perfectly acceptable to boil the crawfish with your potatoes, onion, and andouille sausage, drain and serve directly on the table. This is a traditional Louisiana crawfish boil method of the guests eating their fill of crawfish in this party atmosphere.

However, when left sitting on the side, crawfish have a short shelf life. They will need to be eaten or stored in the fridge within a two-hour time frame.

If you palace cooked crawfish in a bowl in the fridge, the shelf life will be two hours. To store crawfish to maximize their shelf life, they must be stored in airtight containers or airtight bags such as a Ziploc bag. The gallon Ziplocs are best for storing crawfish.

Does the container have to be covered or uncovered?

Covered. Many of you think the fridge is the perfect storage space for perishable foods, and it is. However, the fridge can be exposed to bacteria and condensation due to a continually opening door which keeps the fridge hovering slightly above 40℉ placing the food in the fridge in the danger zone.

Covering crawfish will last for up to four days in the fridge, so keep them covered.

How long can crawfish sit out?

Fresh crawfish can stay out for a maximum of two days before they should be cooked. During the two days, the crawfish should be kept cool at between 46 to 48℉. This will keep them subdued.

Cooked crawfish are a different story. Once the crawfish are cooked, they should be served for you and your guests to enjoy. Leftovers should be gathered when the meal is over, placed in airtight containers, and refrigerated.

Crawfish is a perishable food, and according to the USDA, crawfish sitting out on the side for two hours or more should be considered garbage and disposed of immediately.

After two hours, the bacterial growth on the crawfish will have exploded, making the bacteria potentially dangerous, which could cause food poisoning.

How long do crawfish last in the fridge?

Fresh crawfish last for two days in the fridge and can be in water or wrapped in a damp newspaper. After two days, the fresh crawfish should be cooked without delay to retain their freshness.

Cooked crawfish can last four days if stored correctly. Placing the cooked crawfish in an airtight container or Ziploc bag will do equally as well at protecting the crawfish from bacteria growth.

Place the crawfish towards the back of the fridge where the temperature is colder.

Does crawfish go bad in the freezer?

Crawfish can be frozen successfully. Freezing fresh crawfish requires some large bags. A Ziploc bag will be perfect for the job. Place crawfish into the bag orderly to maximize how many crawfish you can get in the bag.

Expel as much of the residual air in the bag as possible and seal it. If you want extra insurance to protect against the freezer burn, wrap the crawfish in foil. Once the crawfish are in the bag, place them in the freezer. The fresh crawfish will last for 2 months in the freezer before they start to diminish in quality.

It is a similar story for cooked crawfish if you store them in the freezer whole. Place the cooked crawfish in an airtight container, and you may want to add some seasoning to the bag, like creole seasoning, for flavor.

Once the crawfish are tucked up in the airtight containers, they can stay in the freezer for 3 months and be as good as the day you first boiled them.

You may consider storing cooked crawfish that have been removed from the shells. It is a good way to save on freezer space and is very convenient when you come to defrost the crawfish for meals.

When freezing crawfish from a boil, they should be placed in an ice bath. This will remove the heat and stop the cooking process, which will keep the meat tender.

Removing the meat from the shell will extend the freeze life of the crawfish tails. It is the perfect opportunity to remove the digestive tract and the yellow fat. The yellow fat can turn the crawfish flavor quickly as it becomes rancid.

Stored in a Ziploc bag, crawfish meat can last up to six months in the freezer without compromising the quality of the meat. 

Freezing for longer than the recommended time will see changes in the crawfish texture and flavor profile.

Do you thaw frozen crawfish before cooking?

Most people don’t give a lot of thought to how they will thaw their crawfish, but thawing can be as crucial as the way you freeze the crawfishThawing crawfish is as much about retaining the Thawing is about the quality of the meat as anything else. Fast thawing can be done if necessary, but it’s best to do it slowly. Crawfish thaw quickly under cold running water from the faucet or microwave. 

We all get caught out from time to time, so thawing fast is ok if it can’t be avoided, but storing the crawfish in the fridge overnight will give the best quality meat and flavor.

Can defrosted crawfish be refrozen?

It depends. If you have defrosted the crawfish and let them come to room temperature for two hours, the answer is no they can be refrozen and, in fact, should be discarded due to the bacteria load that has been multiplying in the two hours they have been sitting at room temperature.

However, if they have thawed in the fridge and been kept at 40℉, you can refreeze them. The problem with refreezing foods is they always lose some moisture which will change the texture and flavor.

Can you cook crawfish from frozen?

Yes, it will take a little longer, but it’s perfectly acceptable to place the frozen crawfish in the boiling water, add your seasoning as usual, and away you go.

However, crawfish do thaw quickly, so waiting for an hour or so will produce better-quality meat.

Are black crawfish safe to eat?

Yes. Black crawfish have reached maturity and will not shell again, and the shell is thick and harder to remove but is safe to eat and just as delicious as their younger counterparts.

Final thoughts

With so many crawfish being harvested, it is essential to bring your skills up to date and know how to handle these little critters to get the best out of them for the longest period.

If stored properly, you can go from the end of one season to the start of the next season and still be eating crawfish in your home daily if you wish.

Crawfish have a short life in the fridge and must be consumed within four days if cooked.

Freezing crawfish is easy, but you must use an airtight container to avoid freezer burn. Storing the crawfish meat alive gives you a longer shelf life in the freezer going from 3 months for shelled crawfish to 6 months for de-shelled crawfish.

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