This question of whether you can freeze chowder has caused some heated debate around dinner tables for quite some time. Some believe you can freeze chowder and others simply don’t trust it. But what are the facts?
Ever since a Newfoundland fisherman sat down to the first steaming bowl of chowder, it has been a favorite seafood in households all over the world. From creamy New England Clam chowder to a tomato-based Manhattan Chowder, seafood chowder is one of the most delicious and versatile of all seafoods.
Originating from the French word for cauldron, or large pot, chowder is traditionally cooked in large quantities, which often leads to lots and lots of leftover chowder. A casual look through most recipes for chowder clearly shows that it‘s never intended to be a dish for just one or two people. So, can you safely freeze clam chowder, or any other seafood chowder for that matter?
Yes, you can freeze chowder. Contrary to what you may have been told, chowder is one of the many seafoods that can be safely frozen after it has been made into a meal. By taking a few simple precautions which I will lay out for you here, you can freeze your leftover chowder for up to six months!
Modern refrigeration also allows you to keep the contents of your fridge or freezer at a constant temperature, making it even safer to freeze seafood today than ever before. However, you still need to be careful or you can make yourself unwell.
But before you get to freezing your chowder, you might want to keep some for the next day, so you may wonder, can you refrigerate chowder safely as well?
It is never a good idea to keep seafood that has been cooked hanging around. This is also true of chowder, you must freeze or refrigerate your clam chowder within two hours of preparing it.
Fortunately, freezing and refrigerating chowder is simple.
To save some chowder for the next day, you can store it in the fridge in any suitable container that seals properly. This is important as chowder that is left uncovered will go bad quickly and you also do not want everything in your fridge stinking of chowder.
Although most people have traditionally frowned upon keeping seafood in the fridge for even short periods of time, chowder can in fact be stored very safely if you make use of suitable airtight containers and remember to refrigerate it within two hours of preparation.
If the chowder remains cool you can refrigerate it for up to four days. Once heated though, you should not refrigerate the chowder for a second time.
However, you may not want to eat it right away, in which case, it’s time to freeze it.
How To Freeze Chowder
To freeze chowder, you must always remember the two-hour rule: freeze it fresh from cooking. Throw away your chowder if it has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours. (Yes, really.)
These are the steps you should take when freezing your chowder:
- Spoon portion sizes of the chowder into freezer-friendly plastic tubs.
- Ensure that these are sealed tight.
- If you only have freezer bags, you can place the bag into an empty (non-metallic) cup and then fill the bag with chowder. Afterward, simply seal well with a rubber band and ensure there is no leakage. I would actually double-bag it to be on the safe side. After it has fully frozen, you can remove the cup if you wish and just leave the bagged chowder in the freezer.
- Leave a couple of inches of space at the top of each bag. Chowder expands as it freezes, and if there is not enough space for it to expand in each bag, the bag can burst and make a horrible mess in the freezer.
- Date and label each bag.
- Freeze for a maximum of 6 months.
How Long Can You Freeze Chowder?
Frozen chowder that is kept at a constant temperature should be safe to eat for up to six months.
Mark the occasion and write the date on the containers or bags. This way you can keep track of how long the chowder has been stored.
But it also depends on which recipes you are using and how freezer safe the ingredients are. For instance you can freeze cream cheese for about 2 months. Therefore, if you make your chowder with cream cheese, the duration may vary. So that should be taken into consideration.
How To Defrost Frozen Chowder
Defrost chowder overnight by placing it in a bowl in the fridge. By doing this, you can ensure that the chowder remains below room temperature and it should be good to safely use it for up to two days.
If you are a bit more pressed for time, you can also defrost the chowder in a microwave or a bowl of warm water, however, if you do it this way you should not refrigerate the chowder again.
Once frozen chowder has been warmed, it can not go back into the fridge or freezer. Just don’t do it. If chowder or any seafood has a bad odor, or a strange smell, bin it. Don’t even let the cat have it.
What Can I Use Chowder For?
Even after being frozen for months at a time, chowder will still retain its flavour, making it a perfect seafood to freeze.
However, its creamy sauce can end up grainy in texture. You can avoid this problem by heating up your chowder slowly, stirring thoroughly as it cooks. This will also help the cream from curdling.
You could also drain the sauce from the fish and blend it to see if that helps any. It won’t be the same as fresh chowder but it can still be enjoyable.
Seafood chowder is a versatile dish that can be served in many ways. There are certain dishes where a grainy texture will be less noticeable and these include:
- Chowder makes a great sauce over pasta.
- Chowder pies.
- Chowder lasagne.
- Chowder macaroni cheese with bacon.
- Potato skins with chowder.
Is It Ok To Freeze Corn Chowder?
Yes, you can freeze corn chowder. It is safe to do as long as you take the same steps as those listed above for freezing cream chowder.
How To Tell If Cooked Fish Chowder Is Bad?
Telltale signs that chowder has gone bad include a bad odor, flavor and/or appearance, and also mold. However, don’t wait for these signs to appear! If your fish has been lying around for two hours or more at room temperature, bin it. I hate waste as much as the next person, but you can make yourself very unwell by taking risks with seafood.
Preparing and storing seafood should not be an intimidating or difficult task. Sticking to a few simple rules we can ensure that your chowder remains a treat for another day. Here they are again:
- Never leave chowder or any other seafood dish outside for longer than it takes to cool down completely. Once it reaches room temperature you have to use it, cool it, or lose it!
- Once in the fridge, keep it cold and your chowder can last for up to four days.
- Always freeze your chowder in a plastic tub with a lid. Never leave it open! Sandwich bags with a sealable end works just as well, just make sure no air can come in or chowder leak out.
- Defrost your chowder in the fridge. Once it reaches room temperature, you have to cook with it or throw it away.
Ever since those ancient mariners made the first cauldron of chowder, the dish has traveled across the world and found a home in almost every culture, each adding their unique spices and ingredients to make it their own. Families pass down chowder recipes from one generation to the next. It has become a dish that is shared all over the world.
We’d love to hear your special chowder recipes here.