Freezing Shrimp in Milk Cartons

With the news that the shrimping season along the South Carolina Coast is opening early and expectations that it will be a banner year, we’re already planning out our summer meals.

One of our favorite places to get straight-off-the-boat shrimp is Crosby’s Fish & Shrimp down on Folly Road at the Crosby’s Dock.  Our Folly Outpost is located there, and it is a treat to be able to bound up the steps at the end of the work day and get a freshly filleted fish or a pound of shrimp.   This week they posted on their Facebook page about storing shrimp frozen in water using milk cartons.   It’s the way that my grandparents used to freeze their seafood- mostly bass and brim from their pond- and it preserved the texture much better than freezing them dry.

A fresh shrimp from one of the first catches this year!

Since living in Charleston, I haven’t frozen much seafood.  There is always something fresh to get from places like Crosby’s that I just swing by and get what I need for dinner that night.  But I think that this year, I’m going to freeze a few pounds through the season to have on hand.

Here’s how you do it.

 

Handling the Shrimp When You Get Them Home

  1. Wash your hands well and work on a clean surface.  Put the shrimp in a colander and wash the shrimp in cool tap water.
  2. Head the shrimp if they didn’t do it at the dock.  This is important for a couple of reasons.  First, the heads take up a lot of space, making up 35-40% of the total body weight.  Second, this is where the majority of the “spoilage bacteria” is found in a shrimp.  Removing the heads keep the shrimp fresher longer.
  3. Leave the shells on if you are planning to freeze.  This will keep them from drying out and getting freezer burn.

Before you store the shrimp, remove the head, but don’t remove the shell and tail. Once you peel it, prepare to eat them in the next day or so!

Freezing Shrimp in Used Milk Containers

  1. Wash and sanitize used waxed milk cartons in a mild bleach solution.  A solution of 2 tablespoons bleach into 1 gallon of water is recommended.
  2. Add 2 pounds of headed shrimp to the clean container.  Fill with cool tap water, leaving 1 inch of water at the top.
  3. Fold the top over and freeze.   Once frozen, add enough water to cover any exposed shrimp, fold the top over and tape down tightly.  Mark the date and contents on the carton.
  4. Keep frozen for up to 4-6 months.  When you thaw them, do overnight in the fridge or using cold, running tap water.

 

Why This Method?

Using a milk carton lets you participate in the “reuse” part of reduce-reuse-recycle, keeping it out of the landfill or using a disposable plastic bag.  Plus, the square shape fits better in the freezer.

By covering the shrimp with water and freezing, the texture and quality is better than if you froze them “dry,” too.

Want to know more?  Auburn University Extension published an article about Saving Your Catch that tells you how to handle shrimp, blue crabs, oysters and fish.

 

Want to explore a pristine shrimp-laden estuary?

Visit Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

Explore. Chat. Visit. And come on back, y’all.
@coastalexpeditions

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