Scallops are a delicious seafood that can be enjoyed year-round if frozen properly. Many people wonder if it’s safe or optimal to cook scallops first before freezing them. Here is a comprehensive guide on whether and how to freeze cooked scallops.
Can You Freeze Cooked Scallops?
Yes, it is perfectly safe to freeze cooked scallops. Scallops are often sold frozen, so freezing them after cooking poses no safety risk. However, there are some steps you should take to maintain quality when freezing cooked scallops:
- Make sure scallops are cooled completely before freezing. Putting hot food straight into the freezer leads to frost and ice crystal formation, damaging texture.
- Use air-tight packaging like freezer bags or containers. This prevents freezer burn which causes dryness.
- Don’t overcook scallops before freezing. Slight undercooking is best to maintain tenderness after reheating.
- Consume frozen cooked scallops within 2-3 months for best flavor and texture.
What is the Best Way to Freeze Cooked Scallops?
Follow these steps for ideal results freezing cooked scallops:
- Cook scallops: Pan sear, bake, or cook scallops as desired. Make sure not to overcook them.
- Cool completely: Spread out cooked scallops on a sheet pan and refrigerate until chilled, about 1-2 hours.
- Package in portions: Place cooled scallops in freezer bags or airtight containers in desired portion sizes.
- Remove air: Compress bag and seal using water submersion method or use a vacuum sealer if available.
- Freeze: Place bags in freezer, laying flat for faster freezing.
- Label and date: Write contents and freeze date clearly on each package.
How Long Do Cooked Frozen Scallops Last?
Properly frozen, cooked scallops can last 2-3 months in the freezer before quality degradation. The scallops will still be safe to eat after this time, but may suffer some texture and flavor decline. Track freezer times and use the cooked frozen scallops within these time frames for best results:
- 1 month – Excellent quality, optimal freshness and texture.
- 2 months – Good quality, minimal decline in tenderness.
- 3 months – Edible but noticeable decline in texture and flavor.
- 4+ months – Increase in freezer burn and diminished eating quality.
How to Thaw Frozen Cooked Scallops
It’s important to thaw frozen scallops properly to preserve texture and moisture. Here are some recommended thawing methods:
- Refrigerator: Thaw overnight inside a bowl or on a plate to catch drips.
- Cold water: Seal scallops in a bag and submerge in cold water, changing water every 30 mins.
- Microwave: Microwave individual portions on defrost setting, stopping to stir/redistribute.
Do not thaw scallops at room temperature or by running under hot water, as this leads to bacterial growth. Cook thawed scallops immediately and do not refreeze.
How to Use Thawed Cooked Scallops
Pre-cooked frozen scallops are so convenient because they can be used in recipes straight from the thawed state. Here are some ideas:
- Salads – Add to fresh green salads, pasta salads, or grain bowls.
- Soups – Drop into broth-based soups and chowders.
- Kabobs – Thread onto skewers for quick grilled kabobs.
- Stir fries – Toss into any stir fry near the end of cooking.
- Sandwiches – Top on buns or rolls for scallop sandwiches.
- Casseroles – Mix into casserole dishes like scallop baked ziti.
The key is to not overcook thawed scallops. Gently reheat until warmed through and add to dishes just before serving.
Freezing cooked scallops enables you to enjoy their sweet, tender texture any night of the week. By following proper cooling, packaging, freezing, thawing, and reheating techniques, you can preserve scallops’ quality from ocean to table. Keep your freezer stocked with pre-cooked scallops so you can quickly thaw and incorporate them into seafood recipes when cravings strike.