Jul 6, 2023
If you’re hesitating on grabbing that awesome shrimp on sale because you don’t have enough freezer space, here’s your next best recourse.
One of the things we love about having a Harvest Right freeze dryer is taking advantage of sales. We can stock up on the food we need and not worry about spoilage. It’s what we did when we saw spinach on sale in our local grocery.
The good news is, you can do the same thing with shrimp, no matter its size or kind. Here’s how to freeze dry shrimp, so you don’t have to look away when your favorite seafood is on sale.
Whether you got fresh shrimp or frozen shrimp, you have to clean them to get the best experience.
If you got a whole, fresh shrimp, wash the shrimp well under running water. Others rub salt on the shrimp to get rid of the slime, then rinse it thoroughly to get the salt and gunk out.
If you want effortless cooking later, take out the heads, deshell, and devein each. The fastest way to deshell and devein is to use your kitchen shears. Pierce the shrimp where you see the vein cutting out from where you took the head. Then continue to cut until you reach through the tail. You can now get the shell out easily and devein the shrimp. When you’ve cleaned out the shrimp, wash them all under running water and set them aside.
Don’t throw away the shells. You can store it separately and it for stock later. They’re great as a base for bouillabaisse, seafood risotto, or even Asian noodles. You can freeze-dry these in a separate tray together with the shrimp.
We always say that this is an option, and there are even times when we don’t pre-freeze. You don’t have to pre-freeze your seafood, but it can help your freeze-dryer in many ways.
One is it helps shorten the freeze-drying time because you don’t have to freeze the food in the unit. Another is it helps maintain a steady temperature inside the freeze dryer. Pre-freezing also helps you create an assembly line for freeze-drying. Once a batch is finished, all you have to do is to do the necessary aftercare, then start another. No more waiting times in between.
When you’re freezing the seafood, use the freeze-dryer trays. Putting frozen shrimp on warm trays melts them. Warm trays also destabilize the freeze-dryer temperature. If you’re using a bag of frozen shrimp, then freeze your trays for 1 hour. The goal is to make your trays near the freeze dryer’s temperature as possible.
No need for a silicone mat for freezing and freeze-drying. Shrimps don’t have that much water content, so they won’t stick to the trays. You can pile the shrimp on the trays, but don’t let the pile go over the lip. Keep it level with the tray, so every shrimp freeze dries evenly.
The good thing about Harvest Right home freeze dryers is they’re great for beginners and pros in freeze drying. You can use the presets in the software and forget about it. Or you can play with it and set it to your preferred time and temperature. If you have a lot of things to do like we have, go for the presets.
Freeze drying can take up to 36 hours, especially if you leave the shells on. Depending on your load and the weather, it can take shorter or longer. Some people experience longer freeze-drying during warm weather, even with the air conditioning on.
When the unit says the cycle’s done, take out the trays while they’re warm. This way, it’s easier to check if the shrimp freeze-dried properly. The shrimp should be light, dry, and airy. If any shrimp feels cold, moist, and soft, put the trays back for 2-3 hours of extra freeze-drying time.
For us, Mylar bags win hands down. Not only are they lightweight and very convenient to carry or store. They also keep air and moisture from getting into the food when sealed properly. Some Mylar bags have zipper tops for easy resealing. But if you’re going to store the shrimps for long-term, always heat seal them.
There are also Mylar bags that you can vacuum seal using a Food Saver Vacuum System. But if your Mylar bags are smooth, a straw that fits your Food Saver’s hose attachment can help you make a vacuum seal.
Mason Jars are excellent storage partners if you’re going to use your shrimp every now and then. You can always reseal them with your preferred vacuum sealer whenever needed.
Whatever you use, always remember to add oxygen absorbers. Oxygen is the #1 enemy of long-term food storage because they cause food to oxidize and go bad. A gallon-sized container needs one to two 300cc OA. So, if you open your bag or jar, remove the oxygen absorber and use a new one before resealing it.
If you’re using mason jars, put the oxygen absorbers where you can see them. They’re also good indicators if your mason jars have cracks. When they change in color or appearance, there’s an air leak in your jar.
Freeze-dried shrimp can last for 25 years or more as long as they’re stored properly. Keep your bags or jars in a room with a stable temperature below 72°F (22 °C). If you have a humidity reader, make sure that the relative humidity level is 15% or less.
If you cook the shrimp in a meal with stock or soup in it, there is no need to rehydrate. Just add it in around 5 minutes before serving the meal, crank up the heat to boil the shrimp for 10-30 seconds, and then simmer it. Shrimp is easy to overcook, even freeze-dried, so don’t cook it too long.
But if you need to use it for a salad or pan-fried dish, soak it in warm water or broth for 5 minutes, then drain. Season the shrimp as you will, then sear it in butter or your preferred oil to give it color.
How many pounds of shrimp do you usually see on sale? Let us know in the comment section.
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