Can You Freeze Scallops ? Here’s How To Do It Right (+FAQ)

Scallops are a delicious seafood that somehow looks both fancy and alien. But these delicious seafaring creatures are very often fount at the fish counter, and catch the eye of many customers.

Some shy away from the high price tag, and some pick them up for an event or simply because they like them.

Whatever the case, you may want to know if you can save scallops for later by freezing them. So, this is what we’re going to talk about today.

Whether we can freeze scallops or not, and how long they last, as well as other frequently asked questions about scallops.

scallops

Can you freeze scallops ?

Yes, you can freeze fresh scallops.

Fresh scallops are usually alive on the fish counter, and may be taken home directly and cooked. You know they’re alive if:

  • open shells, the shells will shut if tapped
  • a fresh, ocean smell but not fishy or seaweed-like

Most of the time though, scallops will not be alive when you find them at the counter, since they die very quickly after being harvested. They cannot live outside of water.

These scallops will usually be shucked, and frozen. They may be presented in their frozen form, or thawed at the counter.

Quick guide to freezing scallops

If decide to freezeĀ  scallops, you will need to made sure they’re very well packed.

Your best option is a thick freezer bag that can be vacuum sealed. If you can’t seal it like that, do your very best to remove as much air as possible from the bag before closing it.

Keep in mind that you won’t need too many scallops for one serving, so make sure to freeze in portions.

Arrange the scallops in a single layer, so they freeze and thaw evenly, and don’t stay frozen in the middle.

Double wrap them if you think you need to, just make sure the bag is airtight.

Do not freeze them in a plastic container, since you’re exposing them to a lot of air and this may ruin their texture.

cooked scallops (1)
Pan-seared scallops

How long do scallops last in the freezer ?

You can keep scallops frozen for two months.

Keep in mind that most items will take on a freezer flavor if left for too long, so it’s recommended to keep scallops in the freezer only if you can’t eat them on the spot.

Thaw scallops in the fridge, overnight

When you’re thawing scallops make sure you place them in the fridge to thaw overnight.

Thawing scallops (or any meat) on the counter is faster, yes, but keep the meat at a warmer temperature for a longer period of time. This can spoil the meat, if the ambient temp is too high and you forget about the meat.

Also, keep in mind that seafood deteriorates much quicker than meat from land animals.

Letting scallops thaw in the fridge ensures they do so evenly, and without rushing.

If they need a little boost, place them on the counter for and hour, and set a timer on your phone. Check on them, and then leave them in the fridge until you cook them.

Do not re-freeze thawed scallops

Almost all seafood is pre-frozen, and then thawed at the fish counter. It should state on the label that this is thawed seafood, and as such should not be frozen again

If you do freeze thawed scallops, know that the texture will suffer, as well as the overall flavor of the meat.

Unfortunately this can’t really be avoided, since almost all seafood is frozen and then thawed.

What you can do is either look for fresh, live scallops and cook them on the same day, or buy frozen scallops and keep them in the freezer until you need them.

underwater scallop
Live scallop, underwater.

Scallop FAQ

Scallops are delicious and go very well with many ingredients. Since for many folks this kind of seafaring creature is a treat, we should answer some frequently asked questions so we can all understand scallops better.

What can you serve with scallops ?

Scallops have a sort of delicate flavor and they cook very quickly, so they go with many things.

A good pairing is scallops with any sort of pasta, especially if they have a white wine sauce.

You can also pair scallops with grilled vegetables, a simple salad, couscous, rice (especially wild rice).

As with any seafood, scallops can and should be served with a generous helping of garlic, or garlic sauce, as well as lemon. Butter is great too, and cooking scallops in melted butter with a bit of lemon rind may be the best thing ever.

Can you eat raw scallops ?

Raw scallops, like many other seafaring animals, may harbor parasites or bacteria that can be harmful to humans.

Not all raw scallops are like this, it depends very much on where they were harvested from.

Scallops live near the shoreline, especially in estuaries. That’s where the rivers meet the sea or ocean, and sometimes estuaries are polluted.

This is because many rivers are sewage disposal, and even after the sewage has been treated some harmful microorganisms may still exist.

Scallops may be contaminated, so keep this in mind.

Be sure to check that the region your fresh scallops come from is a safe, clean region.

To be absolutely safe, know that 30 second on high heat (100 C/212 F or higher) will kill all the parasites or bacteria that may have contaminated the scallops.

This is probably the best way to eat scallops – seared – since the raw flavor may not sit well with some folks.

If you want to try scallops raw, try them but also have your pasta ready, in case you’d rather have them cooked. Scallops are done in about 5 minutes in a very hot skillet.

fresh scallops
Fresh, live scallops

Why are scallops so expensive ?

Scallops are amazing in flavor, but they do a number on our wallets. The main reason scallops are so expensive is actually because they’re so large.

They’re harvested via large, chain nets, operated by skilled fishermen on large fishing ships. These all cost time and money, and the harvest at the end of the day varies each time.

There is danger of overharvesting, since scallops take time to grow. Some scallops can live for up to 20 years, and grow larger as they age.

Also during mating season not all the eggs are fertilized, meaning some years may a have a lower number of offspring.

If too many adult scallops are harvested, there won’t be enough young scallops to carry the generation forward, leading to a decline in their numbers.

Another reason scallops are found in smaller numbers is due to high ray numbers along the shore, which have risen because of small shark numbers.

And the shark numbers have dwindled (or are zero in some areas) due to how frequently those areas are fished, and there is no more food left for them.

Finally, the biggest and best scallops are hand harvested by divers. They can only harvest so many on one oxygen tank, but the ones they do bring to the surface are cleaner, larger, and may have escaped a regular chain net (like nestled between rocks).

Farmed scallops weren’t a common sight, but due to declining numbers in the wild, aquaculture has risen. The only problem is that this process is more expensive, and this is reflected in the final price tag.

How long do scallops last ?

Fresh scallops last only a few minutes when harvested. This is why they’re all flash frozen on the ships and then sent to supermarkets and retailers.

If you’ve got thawed scallops in the fridge, we recommend eating them within 24 hours of thawing. Assuming you’ve kept them cold all that time.

cooked scallops

How to tell is scallops have gone bad

You’ll notice scallops have gone bad when they start to get a bad smell, much like with fish.

Fresh scallops are ocean-like, and they should react to you touching them by closing.

Are scallops shellfish ?

Scallops are considered a type of shellfish. Keep in mind that shellfish is more of an informal, flexible umbrella term for many seafaring animals that have an exoskeleton or a hard shell on the outside.

Scallops are actually mollusks, like oysters and snails.

They’re considered shell fish, like crabs, shrimp, and lobster, but they’re closer to oysters and clams in structure.

As for shellfish allergy, some folks may be allergic to mollusks (scallops, oysters, slams) but not shrimp or prawn or crab.

Not all shellfish are the same, and you should ask your doctor for a specialized allergy test for each food item.

Are scallops seafood ?

Yes, scallops are considered seafood.

Seafood is another umbrella term that includes anything humans may consider food, that comes from the sea or ocean. It may sometimes include freshwater animals, like from rivers or lakes.

The most common meaning refers to animals coming from the sea or ocean, so saltwater.

Other seafoods include shrimp or prawn, squid, octopus, sea urchins and in some cases or some definitions it may also include actual fish.

grilled scallops

Why are scallops gritty ?

Scallops are sometimes gritty and need to be very well cleaned before cooking.

This is especially true if you’re using live scallops, which may still have some sand stuck inside.

Harvesting scallops is usually done by dredging on the ocean floor, using a large metal net. This stirs up the ocean floor, which kicks a lot of sand and mud into the scallops.

However, it’s a quick way to harvest a large amount at once.

Most of the time scallops are cleaned after harvesting, but if you find extra grit you can clean them under a strong jet of cold water.

If you’d like cleaner scallops, consider buying diver-harvested ones. These are larger, and the way they’re harvested doesn’t kick up all that sand and mud.

So none of it gets inside the scallops, which is fortunate.

If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.