Can you Freeze Imitation Crab? (Explained)

Who wouldn’t love a cheaper, accessible alternative to crab meat, especially when you can hardly taste the difference!

Imitation crab is flavored fish that is mixed with other ingredients such as starch to make it look and taste as much like crab meat as possible. The meat is still seafood, so it still brings you the elements of the ocean! 

Can you freeze imitation crabs?

The answer is a little tricky to this one. Imitation crab is already a frozen product. So, taking it home to freeze it again would be refreezing. In the case of opened imitation crab, the key to freezing imitation crab is to take him home as soon as possible and rapidly start the freezing procedure.

Otherwise, your crab meat would have undergone considerable thawing, which wouldn’t be safe to freeze anymore. On the other hand, there is far less risk involved in storing unopened imitation crab in the freezer. 

Want to know what exactly to do? Continue reading the article for a step-by-step guide to freezing and correctly thawing your imitation crab! 

How to Freeze Imitation Crab 

As in the case of most procedures of freezing foods; the steps, although simple, are crucial! What you need to remember is that imitation crabs are already available as frozen products. So, any freezing after this will just be ‘refreezing’ which is never the best idea. So, it is best to finish up your freezing procedure as quickly as you can to minimize the risks of refreezing. 

Step 1: If you are planning to use a part of the imitation crabs, take the required quantity out. 

Step 2: Imitation crabs are available in the form of sticks more often. You can break these sticks down into smaller pieces and pack them separately before storing them in the freezer.

Please ensure you tightly secure them in either plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep the meat from getting oxidized. This will allow you to only thaw the portion you need for your meal instead of taking the entire pack out of freezing. You can use either airtight containers or resealable freezer bags.

Additionally, this meat may also tend to absorb surrounding odors. So, packing the meat correctly is vital.

Step 3: All you need to do now is pop them in the freezer. We recommend you label your containers or bags with the date of freezing to keep track of how long it has been sitting in the freezer. Imitation crab, once frozen, stays good for up to 6 months in the freezer. 

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Risks of Freezing Imitation Crab

As mentioned earlier, imitation crab is sold as a frozen product. By the time you are ready to bring it home and store it in the freezer, it would have started to thaw. This process accelerated especially in hot and humid weather conditions.

So, it is essential to get started with the freezing as soon as you can to reduce the risk of any quality deterioration.

There could be changes in texture, and taste, and increased chances of bacterial growth. Being fish meat, if at all it ends up getting spoiled, you will be able to tell immediately by the smell.

How to Thaw Imitation Crab

The process of thawing imitation crab requires a lot of attention, maybe even more than freezing it.

Generally, seafood is sensitive to temperature changes and starts to spoil when there is a significant change around. Exposing imitation crab to a particular temperature may induce bacterial growth in the meat as well. 

We recommend two ways to thaw your imitation crab:

The first is to transfer the packed crab meat from the freezer to the refrigerator. Allow it to sit there overnight and thaw gradually. This method of thawing greatly reduces the risk of bacterial growth as colder temperatures are unfavorable to them. Once you see that it has fully thawed, you can take it out whenever you want to use it during the day.

You can go for this second method if your time is a problem for you. Take the packed crab meat out of the freezer and place it under cold running water. Allow the water to keep running until the crab has fully thawed.

Refreezing Imitation Crab

It is essential to keep in mind that once you take your imitation crab out of the freezer, you cannot put it back in for future use. Similar to other kinds of meat, imitation crab should not be frozen multiple times.

Once you complete thawing the meat, you have already increased the chances of potential bacterial growth in it. This greatly affects the quality of the meat.

The ice crystals that accumulate while freezing the crab meat will damage the cell walls present in it. So, refreezing will only result in softened, mushy crab meat.

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Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Can you freeze imitation crab legs?

Yes, you can freeze imitation crab legs. Unopened imitation crab is safe to freeze. On the other hand, if you intend to freeze opened imitation crab meat, you must take out the portion you want to use and immediately pack the remaining crab meat, and pop it in the freezer.

Can you freeze imitation crab sticks?

Yes, you can freeze imitation crab sticks. You can divide the crab sticks into smaller portions and tightly wrap them in foil or plastic wrap to keep them safe from surrounding odors and freezer burns. You can then pack them all into airtight containers or freezer bags and store them in the freezer.

Can you freeze imitation crab meat?

Yes, you can freeze imitation crab meat. It is best to store it in your freezer unopened. But if you are planning to cook it right away and freeze the rest of it, make sure you prepare it for the freezer as fast as you can. Divide the crab sticks into smaller portions, pack them in airtight containers or freezer bags, and pop them in the freezer. Imitation crab, when properly frozen, stays good for up to 6 months. 

Can you freeze opened imitation crab?

Yes, but on one condition. You must be able to bring it home and pack it correctly as soon as you can before the meat starts to thaw. Seafood is very sensitive to changes in the surrounding temperature. So, after you take it out of the freezer at your supermarket, you must work on getting it to yours as soon as possible to prevent it from spoiling.

Can you freeze imitation crab salad?

We don’t recommend freezing imitation crab salad. Similar to other kinds of meat, imitation crab should not be frozen once thawed. Fish is not suitable to be frozen again. It leads to taste and texture deterioration and also makes it more prone to bacterial growth which may later manifest as food poisoning. So, it is best to keep it out of the freezer.

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Imitation crab is a gift of an idea. Fish that tastes like crab meat at a lower price? Yes, please! You can comfortably use imitation crab in many dishes such as sushi, salads, pasta, etc. And trust us, no one can tell it is not real crab meat! 

Unfortunately, freezing opened imitation crab is not that easy. Nevertheless, by putting enough effort to quickly freeze the meat, you can have your crab freezer ready. Before you consider freezing imitation crabs, it is essential to how temperature changes and improper thawing can affect the quality of the meat.

Please make sure to follow the freezing and thawing procedures correctly to prevent bacterial infection and food poisoning. Once you have a grip on this, you can comfortably freeze opened imitation. Imitation crab stays good in the freezer for about 6 months.