Can You Freeze Crab Meat?

Crabmeat is one of the most popular seafood in the world. It is valued for its delicate, sensitive, and sweet taste. Not to mention that it is loaded with a huge load of nourishing advantages and is a good supper choice.

So maybe you’ve managed to get a hold of some but don’t want to utilize everything immediately. Perhaps you need to have some stored and enjoy another time. Then, you’re left wondering if you would be able to freeze crab meat. 

Crab can be safely frozen for as long as 3 months. Crab really freezes best in its shell or as a feature of another dish. Crabmeat can turn out to be sinewy if you attempt to freeze it all alone.

Pre-cooked vs Fresh crab meat 

Pre-cooked crab meat has a similar extraordinary flavor as fresh crab meat but most crab meat is sold precooked. The crabs are commonly cooked on the fishing boat and promptly flash-frozen to save the rich flavor of the meat.

Whether you buy pre-cooked or fresh crab meat, it is ideal to get it frozen. The longer crab legs are defrosted, the more flavor the meat loses. 

How to freeze cooked crab meat

Keep in mind that you can absolutely freeze cooked crab meat. If you don’t plan to freeze it in a dish, it is recommended to freeze the crabs with the shell as it holds the flavor and surface of the meat.

They can be boiled or steamed, depending on your preferences on cooking the whole crabs before you freeze them.

How to boil the crabs whole

This is the most common way to cook crabs, and it is a favorite as well. These are the steps:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Make sure to salt it enough so it tastes as salty.
  • Add any seasonings you like, if that is to your taste, and then the crabs.
  • Add the crabs, quickly, one right after the other, so they cook for the same amount of time.
  • Bring the water back to a boil and cook until the crabs start to float.
  • Depending on the size of the crabs, this will happen in 10 to 15 minutes or so.
  • Use tongs to remove the crabs and set them out to drain excess water.

How to steam the crabs whole

Steaming really helps the crabs retain their taste, and it’s easier to handle without having to drain water. These are the steps:

  • Bring an inch of salted water to a boil in a large pot.
  • Put the crabs in a steamer basket.
  • Cover and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the crabs.
  • Remove the steamer or pull the crabs out of the pot with tongs.
  • Let the crabs sit until cool enough to handle.

Now that the whole crabs have been cooked, you can prepare them for the freezer.

Freezing cooked crabs

Here are the steps for getting the crabs prepped for freezing:

  • Use kitchen shears to snap off the claws of the crab legs so that they don’t puncture the freezer bag.
  • Pull out the stomach and gills and discard them.
  • Make sure to pull off the flap and mouth and discard them as well.
  • Keep the meat in the shell, because the shell acts as a protective covering for the crab meat and prevents the meat from drying out.
  • Wrap the crab in plastic wrap.
  • Put the wrapped crab in a heavy-duty sealable freezer bag.
  • Use a marker to write the date and the type of crab you’re freezing on the bag.
  • Use a straw to suck the air out of the bag and then seal it.  
  • Use some aluminum foil to wrap the sealed bag and put it in your freezer right away.

How to freeze fresh (uncooked) crab meat

You can freeze fresh crab meat but the crabs must be cleaned properly. While cooking the crabs first before freezing is more common, you may not have the time to do this.

So, here are a few things you need to do before freezing uncooked crab meat:

  • Remove the gills on each side of the underside of the crabs.
  • Remove the mouthparts of the body from both sides, as well as all other viscera inside it, and clean the body if there are any remaining gills or viscera inside.
  • Crush the large claws and pull out the meat with a fork or your hands.
  • This way, you can easily remove the meat from the brittle legs and the hairy claws.
  • Clean each of these pieces thoroughly as much as possible to avoid leaving any impurities inside it.

Now that the crabs are properly cleaned, you can freeze them. Here are the steps:

  • Wrap the crabs individually.
  • Carefully wrap each crab in paper towels to prevent the pointy ends of the shell from puncturing the freezer bag.
  • Take a freezer-safe sealable bag, lay the wrapped crab inside, and push out any excess air before sealing.
  • You need to make sure that your crab bag is labeled properly.
  • Write the freezing date in bold and clear letters. This way, you will never lose track of when you first froze your crabs.

How long will crab meat last in the freezer?

If it is stored properly, frozen crab meat will maintain great quality for up to three months. However, it will be safe to eat after three months if the freezer is maintained at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cooked crab meat can totally last for as long as three months as well, however, the longer the crab spends in the freezer the lower the quality will become over time.

How to defrost crab meat

Generally, when you have a frozen crab and you need to cook it soon it is best to put it in the fridge overnight to defrost.

If you have to defrost it quickly, wrap it in cling film and keep it in a large bowl of water. You can also put it in the sink and run tap water over it. Remember to use cold water because hot water will ruin the crab meat.

How to defrost crab legs

The easiest way to defrost crab legs is to put them in the fridge for 12 hours. You can also leave them in the fridge until they have thawed completely.

Crab legs are supposed to stay at a generally safe temperature while they defrost. Keeping them in the fridge will ensure a cool temperature that keeps bacteria from growing on the crabs.

You can thaw frozen crab legs in other ways. Put the crab legs in a colander and run under cold water for a few minutes.

Should live crabs be frozen?

While there are different views on this issue, the general standard in the seafood industry is that crabs should not be frozen while alive. There are no circumstances where it is required for crabs to be frozen alive.

Two important reasons against the freezing of live crabs include food safety and ethics.

While crabs are able to survive in cold environments, the lack of oxygen in the freezer will kill them off. This makes it rather unethical to freeze them alive.

Unwanted bacteria is also likely to start growing while the crabs are still alive. This can cause serious issues with food poisoning.

In conclusion

Crab legs are a great delicacy for many people. To store crab meat, it is best to store it with the shell on. Without the shell, crab meat could potentially lose its tenderness.

Remember to remove any air from the freezer bag. This will ensure that moisture remains within the meat.

While you can freeze raw crabs, it is best to cook the crabs first. This is the easiest way to maintain the crabs’ flavor and taste for over 3 months.