If you are storing seafood in the freezer, the most common concern is quality. This is something that I dealt with recently with king crab legs.
The problem with king crab legs is that, like other seafood, they are pretty prone to spoilage if handled improperly.
Freezing is the best way to preserve seafood. But refreezing can be a different story, especially when dealing with king crabs.
So, can you refreeze king crab legs?
King crab legs can be refrozen. However, refreezing is not the best thing to do because it could potentially make the meat in the crab legs dry and stingy. Also, refreezing can only be done if they are not completely thawed yet in the refrigerator.
It is important to note though that refreezing king crab legs will not produce safety issues other than the overall quality of the meat.
Instead of refreezing the previously frozen crab legs, you can cook them first then freeze them as they cool down. You can reheat it later if needed.
This is, in my opinion, the best way to enjoy the flavor and aroma of the king crab legs.
Why refreezing king crab legs is not a good idea?
I already mentioned that refreezing king crab legs can cause it dry and stingy. But there is more to it.
If you want to know more, let’s get to a deeper technical explanation.
King crabs are like other seafood that deteriorate pretty quickly. Fishermen usually blast-freeze them to retain the best quality of the meat.
But this process has a major drawback in the meat. It is because rapid freezing causes the fluid in the crab’s body to crystalize and expand.
The same occurrence happens to water in ice cube tray – it expands as it freezes.
The problem is that, the cell walls of the crab meat rupture destroying its natural texture and moisture.
Refreezing the crab will only repeat the damaging process. This is the main reason why refreezing king crab legs is not recommended.
However, if you really need to refreeze them, make sure that they are thawed in the fridge not at room temperature.
Thawing crabs in the fridge should not exceed three days because they can go bad. If you plan to refreeze them, do it as the crabs thawed in the fridge.
If you bought crabs from the grocer that are already thawed, I do not recommend to refreeze them.
Cooke them instead. You can freeze the cooked crabs if needed.
How long can you freeze king crab legs?
King crab legs can be frozen for about 12 months as long as they are properly stored. However, when seafood stays in the freezer this long, it can be affected by freezer burn.
To make sure that they survive in the freezer, wrap the package of the crab legs in paper and then foil.
If you are ready to use them, just thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. As the crab legs become completely thawed, you can steam or boil them for 15 to 20 minutes.
You can use salted or unsalted water in boiling crabs. I like to boil them in salted water until the shells turn orangey-red to enhance the flavor a little bit.
But of course, you can cook them however you want.
Can you freeze crab legs without cooking?
Yes, you can freeze crab legs without cooking. However, do not forget to cook them within a few days to enjoy the best quality.
Although king crab legs last longer than that in the freezer, the texture and taste will eventually deteriorate.
If you want to freeze king crab legs longer in the freezer without losing the quality, make sure that you put them in a vacuum-sealed container.
This is the best strategy to keep the best flavor possible in the meat.
Another option is to secure the crab legs in a zip lock and remove the air inside the bag before closing it.
The main purpose of this is to prevent freezer burn. Freezer burn happens when the air inside the container crystalizes which negatively affects the meat.
When dealing with king crab legs, just make sure that the zip lock won’t have puncture holes.
This is a common problem when dealing with crab legs. One thing you can do is to cut the sharp tips of the legs before placing them in the zip lock.
This is not the perfect solution but it can definitely lessen the problem from happening.
Is it best to freeze whole raw crab legs or cook them first before freezing?
The truth is that you can choose either of the two processes because they are both fine. It depends on your main purpose of freezing king crab legs.
If your main goal is to enjoy the best flavor, you can freeze them uncooked. As long as they are stored properly, you’ll be able to capture the great flavor for months to come.
But if your main goal is to just keep the crab legs safe in the freezer without concerning too much about flavor, you can boil them before freezing.
Either way, vacuum sealing is key to preserve the king crab legs longer.
How long can snow crab legs stay out?
As a rule of thumb, perishable foods should not be left out for more than two hours. The bacteria can rapidly grow putting the food in danger of contamination.
However, this depends on whether you buy the snow crab legs thawed or frozen.
When they are already thawed, then the crab legs won’t last long. Following the 2-hour rule is the best idea. This means that you should not leave them outside for more than two hours.
However, if you bought them frozen, then they can stay safe outside for a couple of hours more. But again, this does not guarantee anything.
I always recommend never leave seafood at room temperature for too long. I wrote a detailed article recently about seafood handling (you can read the whole article here) in which I mentioned that seafood goes bad faster than meat.
If you plan to cook crab legs sooner, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.
But if you want to keep them for weeks or months, make sure that you freeze them. Just follow the tips I mentioned earlier on how to freeze crab legs.
Do cooked crab legs needed to be completely cool before freezing?
When you cook king crab legs before freezing, it is important to let them cool first before popping them into the freezer.
If you pack foods cooked foods that have not been cooled down, there is a high chance that moisture or droplets could form in the container.
If you immediately freeze the previously cooked king crab legs, the droplets in the container form and crystalize which will in turn cause freezer burn.
You do not want this to happen especially if you want to keep seafood in the freezer for weeks or months.
Is it safe to eat crab legs that have freezer burn?
Freezer burn won’t cause harm on frozen meat. But with king crab legs, it may be a different story.
Remember that seafood is more delicate than livestock meat. That said, I do not recommend eating crab legs that have freezer burn.
Instead, I suggest that you discard seafood that has freezer burn. It is not worth compromising health safety.
You can always buy fresh king crab legs. Always take the safer route.
Freezing king crab legs is like freezing other seafood. You just need to make sure that they are stored in the freezer properly.
When you need them, you can just get them and thaw them in the fridge for several hours.
Can you refreeze king crab legs? You can refreeze king crab legs as long as they are thawed in the fridge.
However, it is important to remember that refreezing is not the best option because it can make the meat stingy and dry.
In the end, it depends on your personal preference. I hope this helps.
- Pacific Seafood: King Crab
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: Freezing and Food Safety
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: The Big Thaw — Safe Defrosting Methods for Consumers