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Typically speaking, leaving raw food items outside the fridge is a bad idea unless you plan to cook them immediately. When you leave food on the counter at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F (4.4°C and 60°C), According to the Washington State Department of Health, it only takes two hours for bacteria to grow and spoil your food. Even the Food and Drug Administration recommends that you discard any perishables left at room temperature for over two hours. However, when it comes to raw shrimp, bacteria can still grow even if you refrigerate them. With that being said: how long can raw shrimp stay in the fridge?
In general, one to two days are ideal for keeping raw shrimp fresh in your refrigerator. However, you can keep them between three up to six months in your freezer to maintain the best quality. However, just toss it in the trash if they smell abnormally putrid or something doesn’t look right after being in the fridge for a few days. It’s not worth getting sick over. In this article, we discuss different storage methods you can apply to your raw shrimp products to extend their shelf life, and we also offer some tips for preparing the shrimp once you are ready to take it out of the fridge or freezer.
How to Store Raw Shrimp in the Refrigerator
When you buy shrimp from your local grocery store, you should see a “sell by” date on the package. This date indicates when you should have purchased the product. After buying, you must refrigerate the package immediately once you get home. You can keep the package in the fridge for one to two days and maintain the shrimp’s freshness.
Note that “sell by” does not mean “use by” or “consume by.” Sometimes, the “sell by” date on the package will lapse even after buying the product. You can still safely cook, prepare, and eat the shrimp as long as you keep the item refrigerated.
Your store might sell canned shrimp products. When it comes to these kinds of commercial shrimp products, you can keep them in your pantry for six to eight months without their contents going bad. You can also refrigerate canned shrimp for the same amount of time if you keep the can unopened.
Storing Shelled vs. Shell-On Shrimp in the Fridge
You might notice that the packaged shrimp you buy from the store says “shell-on,” meaning the shrimps still have their shells on. For this type, you still have to peel the shrimp after cooking it. You might also find other packages of shelled shrimp, meaning the manufacturer or distributor has peeled the shrimp before selling it.
Shelled fresh shrimp can last between one and two days in the fridge. Meanwhile, fresh shrimp with their shells on can last a day longer. Shell-on shrimp may last longer than shelled shrimp because the shells can help protect the flesh from bacterial exposure.
How to Store Raw Shrimp in the Freezer
You can freeze your raw shrimp in the package for three to six months for the best quality. This extended lifespan may be helpful if you run a seafood restaurant and store several shrimp packages for your dishes.
Although three to six months is ideal for retaining the shrimp’s quality, you can keep them frozen indefinitely depending on the kind of shrimp product you buy. Note that even poor-quality shrimp can remain tasty if you prepare it properly for cooking.
Shrimp that you keep frozen after six months are also still edible. So, you don’t have to worry about getting food poisoning if you consume shrimp that you stored in the freezer past the window of its best quality.
Storing Shelled vs. Shell-On Shrimp in the Freezer
Shelled shrimps can remain fresh for up to nine months past the printed date. Meanwhile, shell-on shrimps can last up to a year in the freezer. You can ensure that they stay fresh for even longer if you maintain the freezing temperature for shrimp, which is at 28°F (-2.2°C).
You can also store canned shrimp in the freezer for up to 12 months. However, this estimate applies if you have removed the shrimp from the can. You might want to keep canned goods out of the freezer since canned products have already gone through methods to extend shelf life.
Thawing Frozen Raw Shrimp
Once you take frozen shrimp out of the freezer, you can still keep them in the fridge to thaw out. Frozen shrimp lasts between four and five days in the refrigerator. If you have noticed, the shrimp’s shelf life has extended by one or two more days on top of its original lifespan.
Should you decide to defrost your raw shrimp in the microwave, you must cook it immediately. Thawing frozen shrimp involves placing it in a microwavable bowl with cold water. Be sure to defrost your shrimp in 15- or 30-second intervals to avoid the water temperature from rising too much. You don’t want to cook the shrimp in the microwave.
Once you defrost your raw shrimp thoroughly, you must cook it immediately. You can prepare your shrimp for your favorite seafood dishes, which may involve a lot of garlic and butter. After cooking, be sure to consume the dish the same day you cooked it unless you store it in the fridge or freezer.
Suppose you cook multiple shrimp dishes in a day and have some leftovers. You can keep them fresh in the fridge or freezer, depending on how you prepared them.
How Long Can Cooked Shrimp Stay In the Fridge?
Leftover cooked shrimp can stay in the fridge for three to four days without going bad. You might want to reheat the cooked shrimp dish you kept in the refrigerator as soon as possible to maintain the flavors and textures. While you can ensure that your cooked shrimp is safe to eat if you keep it refrigerated, it may not be as flavorful as when you newly cooked it.
How Long Can Cooked Shrimp Stay In the Freezer?
You can keep cooked shrimp in the freezer for six to nine months. While you can technically keep shrimp that you cooked for a dish in the freezer, it would seem strange if you kept a fully cooked dish frozen for that long.
This shelf life might make sense if you only cooked your shrimp partially. Some restaurants might cook shrimp partially to save preparation time. Meanwhile, there is cooked shrimp for sale by the package in grocery stores. Marketers might sell these types of products as ready-to-eat shrimp that you only need to thaw before eating.
Conclusion: How Long Can Raw Shrimp Stay In the Fridge?
Raw shrimp can generally stay fresh in the fridge for one to two days if shelled. Shrimp can last a day longer if they still have their shells on. Cooked shrimp can last in the refrigerator for three to four days.
Meanwhile, you can freeze raw shrimp to extend their shelf life even further. Raw shrimp can last indefinitely as long as you keep them frozen completely at their freezing point. However, you must cook them immediately once you defrost them. Be sure to keep track of your raw shrimp packages to ensure they remain fresh until you decide to cook them.