Can You Freeze Oysters in The Shell?

Fresh oysters on sale—if these are the words that make you giddy, then you’re a certified oyster lover. This is also a sign that it’s time to hoard your favorite shellfish!

But wait, you can’t eat these bags of fresh oysters in a day! And these will go bad in just a few days. What should you do? You don’t want to put your hard-earned money (and bags of oysters) to waste, right? Maybe you should freeze them?

But can you freeze oysters? Or better yet, should you freeze fresh oysters?

Read on to find out the answers!

Can You Freeze Oysters?

Our answer is sweet and simple—yes, you can freeze fresh oysters. But there’s a catch—freezing oysters will alter their color, flavor, and above all—texture.

Because of this, it’s not recommended that you eat oysters raw once they have been frozen. They will lose all their plumpness during the freezing process, so they will feel mushy when you eat them raw after being thawed. Luckily, its texture after being frozen and thawed is still ideal for making soups, chowders, casseroles, and stews.

In addition to the texture issue, bacterial contamination is another reason you shouldn’t eat oysters fresh after freezing. This is why you should only eat oysters raw when they are just freshly harvested.

How to Know if the Oysters are Still Alive?

To avoid foodborne illnesses, you should cook, eat, and freeze oysters alive. That’s why the first thing you need to do (regardless of which method you decide to go with) is to check if all the oysters are still alive.

You can do this by tapping on each shell. Live oysters will hold their shell tightly shut. They will also close their shells when you try opening them.

If you came across oysters that didn’t react when tapped, discard them right away.

3 Ways on How to Freeze Oysters

Now that we’ve settled that issue, it’s time that we figure out how to freeze raw oysters properly.

There are three ways on how you can do that. Here they are:

Method #1: Freezing Live Oysters

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The best way to preserve the delicious flavor of raw oysters is to freeze them live. The only downside of this method is it will require a lot of space in your freezer. If you have enough space, here are the steps you need to take:

Step 1. Wash the shells under running water.

Let the sand and dirt on the shells rinse away. If the running water is not enough, you can use a stiff-bristled brush to remove any sand or dirt on the shells. This simple step can help preserve their texture.

Step 2. Place oysters inside a freezer bag.

Freeze the oysters in either a tightly closed bag or airtight container. The freezer bag will prevent moisture from getting into the shells. It will also protect the shells from freezer burn.

Step 3. Date and label the bag.

Make sure to indicate the date so you can monitor the oysters’ viability. Then, tightly seal the bag and freeze.

Method #2: Freezing Half-Shell Oysters

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If you bought lots of raw oysters but you don’t have enough space in the freezer, this is the method you should use.

The freezing method is almost the same as freezing live oysters. You just need to add one more step—removing the oysters from their shells.

You can do this by holding the oyster with either a glove or a dish towel to protect your hands from the shells’ sharp edges.

While holding the shell, carefully slide your oyster knife into its hinge. Twist the knife until you hear the shell pop, then carefully break away the top part of the shell.

Instead of a freezer bag, place the oysters (in an upright position to preserve as much liquid as possible) in an airtight container. The juice of the oysters will help keep the oysters hydrated and plump, so you need to preserve as much liquid as you can.

Afterward, label the container with the date and freeze.

Method #3: Freezing Shucked Oysters

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This freezing method is the most tedious since you need to shuck the oysters first before freezing, but it will require the least amount of space in your freezer.

To do this, you need to clean and remove the top part of the shell. After that, transfer all the liquor into an airtight container.

Run the same knife on the blade under the oyster meat. In one swift motion, cut the muscle of the oyster that’s attached to the shell. Transfer the meat to the airtight container where you placed the liquor.

If the liquor is not enough to fully cover the oyster meat, add water. Date then freeze shucked oysters.

How to Thaw Frozen Oysters

There are two ways on how you can defrost frozen oysters. First, you can transfer the freezer bag or container from the freezer to the fridge. Then, let it sit overnight or for at least 20 hours to thaw.

The second option is to submerge the freezer bag or airtight container in a bowl of cold water. This is the fastest way to thaw frozen oysters, but you should cook the oysters right away to prevent bacterial contamination.

Frequently Asked Questions About Freezing Oysters

Do you have more questions on how to freeze oysters? You may want to check out these answers:

1. How long can you keep oysters in the freezer?

According to Food Banks BC, frozen live oysters can last for 2 to 3 months, while the shelf life of frozen shucked oysters is 3 to 6 months. (1)

2. How long can you keep oysters in the refrigerator?

If you don’t like the idea of freezing oysters or you still have leftover oyster dishes that you still plan on consuming in the next few days, the best option that you have is to refrigerate them.

Live oysters can last for 1 to 2 days in the fridge, while the shelf life of refrigerated cooked oyster dishes is 3 to 4 days. Lastly, shucked oysters can be refrigerated for 3 to 10 days.

3. Can you freeze cooked oysters?

Cooked oyster dishes, like Oyster Rockefeller, can be frozen. Same with the live oysters, you can place the dish in either a freezer bag or an airtight container. This can last for 1 to 2 months in the freezer.

4. How to know if the oysters have already gone bad?

Before consuming frozen and thawed oysters (whether it’s live, shucked, or cooked), you must inspect them first.

Inspect the pieces of the shell of frozen oysters for any damages. If you found some, discard the oyster shells right away.

On the other hand, you should watch out for pink discoloration and an odor in cooked or shucked oysters.

In Summary

Can you freeze oysters? Yes, you can. But given that frozen oysters are a bit complicated to store and handle, you should exercise extra precaution in freezing and thawing them. But when done right, you can enjoy frozen oysters for up to 6 months (depending on how you prepared it before you freeze it).

So make sure to follow the freezing and thawing tips we’ve shared with you so you can enjoy delicious oyster dishes anytime!

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Up Next: Can You Freeze Block, Fresh and Shredded Mozzarella Cheese?

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