Scallops are as delectable as they are pretty — at least while they are still in their shells. They have a tender texture and a kind of sweet taste, which is why it doesn’t come as a surprise why they are some of the most sought-after shellfish out there.
However, it’s a must that you store scallops the right way to be able to enjoy them fully.
Fresh scallops can be stored in the refrigerator, where they will stay fresh for up to three days. They can be stored in the freezer, too, where they will keep for up to three long months. Cooked scallops can be stored either in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on when they will be consumed.
Like other seafood, it’s of utmost importance that you store scallops properly. Otherwise, your health may be placed in danger.
Failure to store scallops correctly can cause the dangerous bacteria they have collected from their natural habitat to multiply.
It’s also a must that you clean and cook scallops thoroughly to keep food poisoning at bay.
Different Ways to Store Scallops the Right Way
When shopping for scallops at the supermarket, you will come across two kinds:
No matter the case, one thing remains true: commercially-available scallops are already shucked. So, in other words, they are already removed from their lovely shells.
Scallops need to be shucked after they are caught. That’s because they cannot live for a long time inside their shells once they’re out of the water.
Besides, getting your hands on shucked scallops means one less task for you to carry out each time you wish to serve a delectable shellfish dish on the table.
Whether fresh or frozen, it’s a definite must that you store scallops properly. This is to avoid some serious health-related problems discussed earlier from striking you as well as your loved ones.
Without further ado, here are the different ways to store scallops, depending on the type…
How to Store Fresh Scallops in the Shell
Fresh scallops still in the shell should be placed in the refrigerator where the temperature is anywhere between 32°F to 40°F. They may be placed on ice cubes and covered with a damp cloth to keep them good for up to three days. Fresh scallops still in the shell should not be submerged in water.
If there is a culinary masterpiece that requires you to cook scallops in their shells and you are lucky enough to get your hands on live scallops still in their shells, it’s necessary that you store them the right way.
The goal is to keep them alive. The good news is that you can keep fresh scallops still in their shells alive and kicking for up to three days.
However, for this to happen, they should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Placing live scallops in their shells in the freezer will kill them — they cannot survive extremely low temperatures.
To make sure that live scallops in the shell will stay alive, it’s a good idea to place them on some ice cubes. This is especially true if you are unsure if your fridge has the ideal temperature: between 32°F to 40°F.
Since ice cubes melt and it’s a terrible idea to submerge fresh scallops still in their shells in water, you should constantly check the scallops and replace the ice cubes as necessary.
Worry not if you are too busy to constantly inspect the live scallops because there is a simple workaround…
In a large bowl, place a smaller bowl. Place some ice cubes in the large bowl, making sure that the small bowl is surrounded by them. Place scallops still in their shells in the small bowl. Cover with a damp cloth.
Using this nifty method, you can rest assured that water will not collect and drown the live scallops still in their shells as the ice cubes melt.
However, you will still have to make sure that there are enough ice cubes in the large bowl all the time. Also, you will still have to check that the damp cloth stays, well, damp.
How to tell if scallops are still alive
Scallops that are still alive have slightly opened shells. When their shells are tapped or pinched, they close. Some salt water may still be inside the shells, which makes live scallops smell like the ocean. Scallops are dead when they no longer react to the touch or already have a nasty fishy odor.
It’s for certain that scallops that have been shucked or taken out of their shells are already dead. This does not mean, however, that they should smell like they are dead.
Despite being shellfish, fresh scallops do not possess an unmistakable fishy aroma when they are fresh. Rather, they have a kind of sweet and seaweed-like smell.
They have a creamy or beige color, although some have a slight orange hue. Fresh scallops appear moist, but they should not look milky. They should be firm, too, like pork chops.
How to Store Scallops in the Fridge
Scallops should be placed in a ziploc bag and then placed on a bed of ice cubes. Place them the coldest part of the fridge. When stored properly, scallops can stay in great shape for up to three days in the refrigerator. It is of utmost importance to refrigerate scallops immediately after buying.
If you are 100% sure that your refrigerator has a temperature of anywhere from 32°F to 40°F, then there is no need to place scallops in a ziploc bag and on some ice cubes.
But even if your fridge is reliable, don’t risk it — place those bagged scallops on ice cubes for your peace of mind and your health’s protection, too.
The reason why scallops should be placed in a ziploc bag before stashing them in the refrigerator is to protect them from absorbing moisture in the fridge as well as collecting water that could drip from other food items.
While water won’t damage scallops, it can cause their nutrients to seep out of them. Aside from the taste, scallops are also revered for their nutritional profile — they are considered some of the healthiest seafood on the face of the planet.
It’s for this reason exactly why you should not buy scallops at the supermarket that are sitting in water.
As soon as you get home from the supermarket, store scallops in the refrigerator. When properly stored in the fridge, scallops can keep for up to three days.
However, it is still a good idea to consume scallops the day that you bought them. This is to make sure that you will enjoy nothing but the freshest and tastiest shellfish.
The importance of storing scallops in the refrigerator cannot be stressed enough. This is why if the store selling scallops is several miles away from your home, you should bring with you a small cooler.
It’s not enough that you have a small cooler — it’s also a must that your small cooler is filled with ice cubes.
Thanks to a small cooler packed with ice cubes, you can keep freshly bought scallops within the ideal storage temperature, which is below 40°F. Alternately, you can ask the vendor for a bag of ice cubes and place the scallops right next to it.
How long can you store cooked scallops?
Generally speaking, cooked scallops should not be stored at room temperature for more than two hours. They should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep anywhere from three to four days. To extend the shelf life of cooked scallops for two to three long months, store them in the freezer.
But don’t just store in the fridge or freezer cooked scallops that you would like to enjoy on another day, week or month. It’s still important that you follow some tips and tricks when storing cooked scallops:
- Transfer cooked scallops in an airtight container, either out of plastic or glass. It is a bad idea to refrigerate or freeze cooked scallops in any other type of container. That’s because it will cause moisture in the fridge or freezer to damage them. Also, cooked scallops may absorb refrigerator or freezer odors, affecting the taste.
- Storing cooked scallops in a ziploc bag is a better idea than storing them in an airtight plastic or glass container. That’s because it allows you to squeeze out as much air as possible. The secret to keeping cooked scallops for a long time in the refrigerator or freezer is by minimizing their contact with moisture-containing air.
- Allow cooked scallops to cool to room temperature first. Storing them in the fridge or freezer while still hot is a no-no as it will cause moisture to get trapped in the container. This can cause cooked scallops to go bad even if they are refrigerated. On the other hand, this can cause freezer burn when cooked scallops are frozen.
Keep these steps in mind, and cooked scallops can last for days in the fridge or months in the freezer.
How to Store Scallops in the Freezer
Before placing scallops in the freezer, they should be transferred to a ziploc bag first. Prior to sealing the bag, as much air as possible should be squeezed out. This is to avoid freezer burn, which can affect the taste and texture of scallops. Scallops keep in the freezer for up to three months.
It’s true that scallops are best cooked and eaten the day that you bought them from the supermarket. But the good news is that you can store scallops for a few days in the fridge or several weeks in the freezer.
Just see to it that you store scallops properly in the freezer. More importantly, you should store them in the freezer as soon as you get home.
If you got your hands on the scallops frozen and in a heavy-duty plastic bag, you can store them in the freezer without transferring them to a ziploc bag beforehand.
However, if you opened the bag to cook some of the scallops, it is a good idea to transfer the rest to a ziploc bag. Again, try to squeeze out as much air as you possibly can before sealing the bag.
Also, place the scallops in the coldest part of the freezer — far away from the freezer door — in order to keep them fresh for three long months.
How to thaw frozen scallops
Frozen scallops should be thawed in the refrigerator and not on a countertop. They should be taken out of the freezer and transferred to the refrigerator at least 24 hours before cooking them. Scallops that have not fully thawed in the refrigerator can have a chewy and rubbery texture when cooked.
Don’t just transfer scallops from the freezer to the refrigerator and wait for them to thaw for a day. It’s still a must that you do the necessary steps to have scallops that are a delight to eat even if they came from the freezer.
Scallops fresh from the freezer should be removed from their original packaging or a ziploc bag and then transferred to a large bowl.
The large bowl should then be covered with cling wrap. This is to prevent the scallops from absorbing unfavorable refrigerator odors, which can alter their taste.
If you are in a hurry, there is a quicker way to thaw frozen scallops, and here are the steps:
- Transfer the frozen scallops in a ziploc bag (if they are not already stored in one).
- Grab a large bowl. The bowl should be large enough to accommodate the bag of frozen scallops.
- Make sure that the ziploc bag is sealed and place it in the bowl.
- Fill the bowl with cold tap water. Do not use hot tap water as it will cook the scallops.
- Make sure that the cold tap water is about 50°F for best results.
- Empty the bowl and replace the cold tap water every 15 to 20 minutes.
Following the steps above, it is possible to fully thaw frozen scallops in a couple of hours only. Larger scallops can take longer. Scallops are completely thawed when they are soft but still cool, without frozen parts.
How to store thawed scallops
Thawed scallops should be stored in the refrigerator. It is not a good idea to leave them on a countertop. Never place them back in the freezer because their texture and taste will no longer be good when they are cooked. After thawing scallops, they should either be cooked right away or disposed of.
Because scallops from the freezer are best cooked as soon as they are completely thawed, you should thaw only what you will use. Refrain from thawing an entire bag of frozen scallops if you’re not going to cook them all.
However, there is no need to worry if you made the mistake of thawing more frozen scallops than you need.
That’s because you can always store them in the freezer once again after they are cooked. By following the tips on how to store scallops in the freezer once cooked, they can keep for up to three long months.
How to Store Dried Scallops
Dried scallops should be placed in an airtight container. They can also be stored in a ziploc bag with the air squeezed out. Dried scallops should then be kept in the refrigerator, where they will stay good for four to five long months. Storing them in the freezer extends their shelf life further.
It’s at an Asian grocery store where you are likely to find dried scallops, which are also called conpoy. This is especially true where all sorts of Chinese food products are available.
What’s nice about dried scallops is that, just like other dehydrated foods, they can stay in tip-top shape so much longer than fresh scallops.
Dried scallops can actually be stored in a cool and dry place, like the pantry. However, they should be placed in an airtight glass or plastic container, which you need to store away from light and heat.
But if you live where the climate is hot, or you simply don’t want to risk it, store dried scallops in the refrigerator.
You can also store them in the freezer. Before using, most of the time, dried scallops need to be rehydrated first.
How to rehydrate dried scallops
Dried scallops should be soaked in water anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes, or until they are soft. The larger the dried scallops, the longer the soaking time. Once well rehydrated, they can be torn into smaller pieces for a more flavorful dish. Before soaking, rinse dried scallops a couple of times.
In some instances, there is no need to rehydrate dried scallops before using them as cooking ingredients. If you will use them to make soup, broth, or congee, you can simply place dried scallops in the pot before the water boils.
A word of caution: Do not try to slice or chop dried scallops without rehydrating them beforehand. Their shape and hardness can easily cause a knife-related injury to come into being!
Even if you have been slicing and chopping all your life, don’t risk it — allow dried scallops to get properly rehydrated first.
Scallops, like other shellfish, are extremely perishable.
When they go bad, your money ends up down the drain, and your wellbeing can be placed on the line, too.
In order to fend off serious problems that have something to do with your pocket and health, make sure that you store scallops the right way.
Above, you came across the steps on how to store scallops properly. Whether live, fresh, frozen, or cooked, scallops can make every mealtime more delightful if you follow correct storage tips and tricks.