As someone who enjoys shrimp, I often find myself wondering how long raw shrimp can be kept in the fridge before it goes bad. Shrimp is one of those ingredients that seems to go south quickly, so proper storage is key to getting the most out of it. In this article, I’ll share everything you need to know about how long raw shrimp lasts in the refrigerator.
Be Careful Storing Shrimp – It Can Lead to Illness If Left Too Long
Before getting into proper storage times, it’s important to understand why you need to be careful about how long raw shrimp sits in your fridge. If stored too long, shrimp can actually make you sick.
Eating shrimp that has been left too long in the fridge can lead to food poisoning symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. This is because shrimp is highly susceptible to bacterial growth.
Shrimp are small in size but have a large surface area relative to their volume. This makes it very easy for bacteria to multiply and grow. Plus, shrimp aren’t always cleaned thoroughly before packaging. Any remaining internal organs or digestive tracts create the perfect environment for rapid bacteria growth if not refrigerated properly.
So clearly, it’s very important to pay close attention to how long shrimp has been in the fridge. Following proper storage times is crucial to avoid all the nasty side effects that come with consuming spoiled shrimp.
The Best Practices for Storing Raw Shrimp
To get the longest safe storage time out of your shrimp, you need to store it properly from the moment you bring it home. Here are some best practices for storing raw shrimp:
- Place the shrimp in the fridge as soon as you get home – Don’t leave the shrimp sitting out on the counter. Refrigerate it right away in its original store packaging.
- Store shrimp on the bottom shelf of the fridge, where temperatures are coldest. The cold environment helps slow bacteria growth.
- Put the shrimp on top of ice inside the packaging. This creates an even colder barrier and preserves freshness longer. Make sure you change out the ice regularly to prevent shrimps tissues from freezing.
- Keep shrimp stored in a bowl covered with plastic wrap if not in its original bag. Make sure the plastic directly touches the surface of the shrimp.
Following these simple shrimp storage steps will help keep it fresher for longer. But there is still a limit for how many days it will last.
The Maximum Time Raw Shrimp Can Be Safely Stored
So how long will raw shrimp last in the fridge? If stored properly, the maximum storage time for raw shrimp in the refrigerator is just 2 days.
Here are some key points on the shrimp fridge life:
- Raw shrimp will stay good for 1-2 days when kept refrigerated at 40°F or below.
- After 2 days, there is an increased risk of bacteria growth, even if stored properly.
- Don’t keep raw shrimp for more than 2 days before cooking or discarding. Freezing is the only way to safely store it beyond this timeframe.
Two days is the absolute limit I recommend for raw shrimp refrigeration. Make sure to cook or freeze it within this timeframe for the best quality and food safety.
Shells On or Off Does Not Impact Shrimp Fridge Life
You might be wondering if peeled shrimp lasts longer than shell-on shrimp.
It doesn’t matter if the shrimp still have their shells on or have been peeled – the fridge shelf life remains 2 days.
The shells help protect the shrimp meat a bit, but they don’t provide a significant advantage against bacteria growth in the fridge. Both shell-on and peeled shrimp should be eaten within 2 days.
So buy whichever you prefer based on your recipe or preferences. Just make sure to store shrimp properly in the fridge and use within 2 days regardless of shell status.
How To Know If Your Shrimp Have Gone Bad
Shrimp that has been left too long in the fridge will show distinct signs of spoilage. Here’s what to look for:
- Slimy texture and loose appearance – Bad shrimp will appear shiny, viscous, and slide around in the packaging instead of staying in place. This indicates bacterial growth breaking down the tissues.
- Strong, unpleasant odor – Shrimp that has gone bad will smell strongly of ammonia, similar to a very strong cleaner. This happens as bacteria rapidly multiply.
- Discoloration – Look for black dots or patches, or an overall dull, hollow color instead of translucent flesh. This signifies decomposition.
- Dry, shriveled appearance – The eyes especially will look very dried out on spoiled shrimp, versus neatly intact on fresh shrimp.
Trust your senses – if shrimp looks or smells off, it has likely gone bad and should be discarded. Don’t risk getting sick from eating it just to avoid wasting it.
Storing Already Cooked Shrimp in the Fridge
If you have leftover cooked shrimp, you get a little more wiggle room for safe storage compared to raw. Here are some tips:
- Cooked shrimp lasts 3-4 days in the fridge. The cooking process helps destroy some bacteria.
- Only keep cooked shrimp for a maximum of 4 days. At that point, discard it even if it looks fine, for food safety.
- Store cooked shrimp tightly sealed in a container or bag. Limit air exposure to retain moisture and freshness.
So while cooked shrimp fridge life is slightly longer at 3-4 days, don’t push it past 4 to avoid potential foodborne illness.
Freeze Leftover Cooked Shrimp for Long Term Storage
For retaining already-cooked shrimp even longer than the fridge allows, freezing is the way to go. Here’s how:
- Cooked shrimp stays good quality in the freezer for 6-9 months. This lets you buy bulk when it’s on sale.
- Put leftover cooked shrimp in freezer bags or airtight containers with as much air pressed out as possible.
- Freeze shrimp in smaller portions to allow taking out just what you need each time.
Freezing extends the life of cooked shrimp exponentially compared to just refrigerating. You can freeze it safely for months instead of days.
Just make sure you don’t accidentally leave it in the freezer too long. 9 months is the maximum recommended freezer life.
Key Takeaways on Raw Shrimp Fridge Life
To wrap up, here are some key facts to keep in mind:
- Only keep raw shrimp in the fridge for 1-2 days maximum. After that, it’s risky to eat in terms of potential foodborne illness.
- Store raw shrimp properly from the start to maintain quality as long as possible. Use ice packs and the coldest location in the fridge.
- Shell-on and peeled shrimp have the same fridge life of just 2 days. The shells don’t significantly impact shelf life.
- Cooked shrimp lasts a little longer at 3-4 days in the fridge, or 6-9 months in the freezer. But don’t exceed these times.
- Monitor the sight and smell – bad shrimp will appear slimy, smelly, and dull instead of firm and ocean fresh.
I hope this helps explain exactly how long you can keep shrimp in the fridge to maximize enjoyment of shrimp dishes! By knowing the proper raw and cooked shrimp storage times and conditions, you can get the most out of one of the most delicious types of seafood.