Freezing shrimp and shrimp stock

We are fortunate to be able to go to the North Carolina coast, a few hours drive away, and get fresh-off-the-boat large shrimp for less than $3 a pound—but we have to buy 50 pounds! Now and then we bring back a load of 50 pounds, so we needed to find the best way to freeze them. Here’s what we have found to be the best way to preserve that fresh taste and texture.

1. Keep the shrimp ice-cold at all times, but do not allow them to soak in water.
2. Remove the heads, but leave the shells on. If desired, use the heads to make shrimp stock (see below).
3. Pack the shrimp into Tupperware-type containers.
4. Cover with cold water that has 1 tsp salt dissolved per quart.
5. Put the lid on the container and freeze as quickly as possible.

Recognizing fresh shrimp: First of all, ask to smell the shrimp. If you get even the slightest whiff of ammonia, fuggedaboudit. But, even shrimp without the ammonia smell can be more or less fresh, and here’s how to tell. This only works with head-on shrimp, obviously. Each shrimp has two long feelers, or antennae, on its head. They can be 6 or more inches in length. When the shrimp are really fresh, the feelers are flexible and relatively tough. Most or all of the shrimp should have the full feelers and you should be able to pick a shrimp up by a feeler. As freshness wanes, the feelers get brittle and break easily, so this test won’t work.

Making shrimp stock: When you have a bunch of shrimp heads, you can use them to make stock, useful in soups and other recipes. For about 2 lbs of heads, rinse under cold water and put in a stock pot with 2-1/2 quarts of water and 1/2 c each coarsely chopped onion, celery, and carrot. Add a halved garlic clove, a bay leaf, and a grinding of black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 60 minutes, skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. Strain and discard the solids. For a really clear stock, strain again through several layers of cheesecloth. Freeze in desired size portions.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Seafood, Techniques

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