If you’ve ever watched an episode of Hell's Kitchen, you will have heard of scallops. Throughout the many seasons of the show, scallops have been a real bugbear for many chefs, and a constant source of anger for Chef Ramsay as the contestants regularly over or undercook them.
But when you haven’t got one of the world’s greatest chefs breathing down your neck, scallops aren’t that hard to cook. You can buy them ready prepared and they can make a really nice meal. But what happens when you buy too many and find yourself with leftovers? Can you freeze them?
The answer is yes, scallops can be frozen. You can either freeze scallops raw or cooked, making it a great choice for meal prep or leftovers alike.
As long as you complete all the necessary preparation and follow the steps needed to freeze scallops, this is a great way to preserve the shelf life of this delicious mollusk for future use.
How to freeze scallops
The process of freezing scallops is surprisingly simple. As we’ve already mentioned, most of the preparation for scallops is done before you purchase them. They will already have been shucked from their shell and will be ready to cook.
Scallops are extremely sensitive to temperature and will turn very quickly, which is why freezing is such a great option. For the best results, you should aim to freeze your scallops within 24 hours of purchasing them.
At this point, you need to make a decision, and that is whether you will freeze the scallops raw or you will cook them before freezing. Both options are possible and you should choose the one that works best for you.
More than likely, you will want to freeze your scallops raw. When you buy scallops they will often come stored in ice or water, so freezing them without cooking will not seem like a strange thing to do. The freezing process for raw scallops can be completed in just a few easy steps.
First, you should wash the scallops. This isn’t essential but it is recommended just to ensure they are thoroughly clean before you freeze them. Once washed, pat the scallops down to dry them off then place them into a freezer bag or airtight container.
You can use whichever one you think best, but freezer bags tend to take up less room. You should seal the container/bag, ensuring you squeeze as much air out as possible if you use a bag. Simply label it with the date of storage and place your scallops in the freezer for future use.
Alternatively, you may decide to cook the scallops before freezing. You will be more likely to do this if you are freezing leftover scallops from a meal.
To do this, you should leave the scallops to cool thoroughly, then follow the same process of packaging as raw scallops, remembering to label with the date of storage.
For the best freezing results, you should try and store the scallops in the coldest part of your freezer and avoid leaving them too close to the freezer door.
We would recommend storing them as far back in the freezer as possible to ensure they remain frozen throughout their time in there.
How to defrost scallops
As scallops are an incredibly sensitive type of meat, they will only be edible for a day or two when left in the refrigerator. This is why freezing is such a popular option.
Once frozen, raw scallops will have a shelf life of up to 6 months, and cooked scallops will have a shelf life of roughly 3 months.
Freezing can sometimes be off-putting as the defrosting process can be taxing, but this isn’t the case for scallops. The defrosting process is very simple, and you have a few options which you can choose between.
The first option, you probably will have heard of as it is a very common way to thaw frozen foods. You guessed it, this method involves transferring the frozen scallops from the freezer into the fridge.
You should do this the night before you want to use the scallops and they will be ready to eat by the next day. This is probably the best method, but it does take a while for your scallops to defrost.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a quicker option there is one available. This involves filling a bowl with cold water and submerging the scallops in the bowl for a while.
This method will thaw the scallops within 20 minutes, but it does mean you have to cook the scallops immediately after they have thawed.
Once you are confident that the scallops have defrosted you can then cook them using your regular method. Or if you froze the scallops after cooking, you can simply reheat and enjoy.
Factors to consider
As with everything that you can freeze, there are some factors you should consider before you decide to freeze your scallops.
The first thing you need to think about is where you bought the scallops from. Scallops are an expensive purchase so you want to make sure you buy them from a reputable seller.
This is especially important as scallops have a very short shelf life and are extremely sensitive to temperature change.
You want to ensure the scallops you are freezing are healthy and that they are not on the turn. Due to the short shelf life, the scallops can go out of date within a day of you buying them so if you want to freeze them you should do it as soon as possible.
Another factor you should consider is freezing the scallops in portions. Once defrosted, scallops cannot be refrozen so any scallops you don’t eat will go to waste.
If you freeze the scallops in portions this will allow you to only defrost the scallops you will eat. This will help reduce waste and ensure you have more scallops to enjoy in the freezer.
So in short the answer is yes, scallops can be frozen and they freeze very well.
If you buy fresh scallops but don’t plan on eating them within 24 hours of the purchase, it’s recommended you freeze them for future use.