When you take a bite of crab rangoons or sushi like California rolls, there's a strong chance that you're about to eat imitation crab meat. The alternative ingredient to real crab consists of surimi paste made with fish and other ingredients that are often used because they're more affordable and easier to obtain for both home cooks and restaurants. The ingredient is a cost-effective way to make a cheesy crab dip or seafood chowder at home, but the shelf life and storage rules are different compared to fresh fish.
If you have a leftover opened package of imitation crab meat, store it in a refrigerator set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). When it's properly stored in the fridge, it should be eaten within three days just like other varieties of fish, per the USDA. If you cannot eat it within that time frame, store the leftovers in a freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for up to six months. When freezing the imitation crab meat, be aware that its texture will change when it's defrosted.
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Keep Imitation Crab Meat Fresh With These Storage Tips
If the container of imitation crab meat is opened, transfer it to an airtight glass or plastic container to preserve its freshness. The best storage option is a fridge- or freezer-safe container with a lid that fully closes to prevent potential cross contamination or freezer burn if you're going with the long-term storage solution. Use a label or marker and write the date on the container so you don't forget how long it has been in there.
Before you use the leftover imitation crab in dishes like seafood salad, crab dip, or stuffed mushrooms, check for signs of spoilage. The most obvious sign that imitation crab has gone bad is a fishy smell, so toss it out if the odor is strong. Whenever leftovers look slimy or taste sour you can bet the imitation crab is past its prime and needs to go in the garbage, even if you haven't reached the sell-by date that's on the package.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.