5 Causes of White Spots on Shrimp: Safe to Eat?

Frozen shrimp can turn white due to freezer burn, affecting taste and safety; learn why and how to salvage shrimp with white spots.

frozen shrimp turned white

If you’ve taken frozen shrimp out to thaw and noticed it turned white, don’t panic. Your frozen shrimp is likely freezer burned. In this concise guide, we’ll explain why frozen shrimp can turn white and address common concerns about its safety and taste. Let’s dive in.

You might have more questions, like whether you can remove the white spots, if they affect the taste, and if it’s safe to eat shrimp with white spots.

Here is a complete overview explaining possible reasons why your frozen shrimp has turned white, as well as many other important facts about frozen white shrimp.

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Your shrimp could have been freezer burned

Frozen shrimp often turns white because it gets freezer burned.

There are some telltale signs of freezer burned shrimp, which includes:

  • white discolored areas on the shrimp
  • hard or rigid shrimp
  • shrimp that appear dried out

If your shrimp has been freezer burned, then the level of severity will determine whether the shrimp is still edible.

You can still eat freezer-burned shrimp, but many people avoid it because it doesn’t taste good.

What does freezer burned food taste like? 

The taste of freezer-burned food is distinctive and not pleasant, and it’s hard to describe.

Of course, the taste will depend on the severity of the damage, so if you want to eat shrimp that has only mild freezer burn, then it’s possible to get away with it without the taste being too severely damaged.

Freezer burned food isn’t dangerous, and won’t make you sick, so if you decide to eat it, then you don’t have to worry about it harming you.

What causes freezer burn? 

Moisture loss from frozen food causes freezer burn. It results when food has either been left in the freezer for too long or it wasn’t properly sealed before being placed in the freezer. To prevent freezer burn, it’s essential to store your shrimp in an airtight container before placing it in the freezer.

Finding excessive ice crystals in your freezer can be frustrating, especially when you’re craving ice cream or thawing steak or shrimp. 

Ways to salvage freezer burned shrimp

Shrimp isn’t cheap, and if you look in your freezer only to find that your shrimp has freezer burn, then depending on the severity, there are some ways to salvage it.

One way to salvage your freezer burned shrimp is to simply cut off the parts that contain the damaged portions.

However, if your shrimp has freezer burn throughout, then you might opt to grill or cook the shrimp in a dish that has many flavors in it.

The heavy seasoning can possibly camouflage the taste in many cases, especially if you use seasonings like various herbs, broths, and more.

Your shrimp could have White Spot Syndrome

White Spot Syndrome (WSS) is a viral infection found in shrimp and fish. While WSS is fatal in shrimp, it’s completely harmless in humans, making it safe to eat shrimp (or fish) that have it.

If you can get past knowing that you’re going to consume shrimp that has a viral infection, then you can actually enjoy a great shrimp meal regardless.

If you suspect your shrimp has WSS, it’s okay to throw it out if you feel more comfortable doing so.

Unlike what many shrimp lovers might believe, WSS is not killed by freezing the shrimp. Most shrimp with WSS don’t even make it to the processing stage because they die rapidly from the condition, but some cases can go undiagnosed, and the shrimp don’t show symptoms and are subsequently processed.

Has your shrimp been covered by a white glaze?

Shrimp is often coated in a white glaze to retain moisture. The white color you see on frozen shrimp may be this glaze melting off and getting air exposure.

So, if you notice that the shrimp is white, don’t immediately jump to conclusions before allowing the shrimp to completely thaw and then examining it. Properly storing your shrimp in an airtight container can also help prevent excessive glaze melting.

Only then can you determine if the white on your shrimp is simply glaze melting off, or if it’s WSS or freezer burn.

Frozen Shrimp Cooking Tips

When cooking with frozen shrimp, there are a few tips that can ensure your dish is flavorful and the shrimp are perfectly cooked. First, it’s important to properly thaw the shrimp. This can be done by placing them in the refrigerator overnight or by submerging them in cold water for about 15-20 minutes if you’re in a hurry. Never use warm or hot water as it can start to cook the shrimp.

Once thawed, pat the shrimp dry before cooking to prevent them from steaming instead of searing. Season the shrimp according to your recipe before adding to the pan. Remember that shrimp cook quickly, usually only needing 2-3 minutes per side on medium heat.

Overcooking can result in a rubbery texture. Lastly, add acid (like lemon juice) at the end of the cooking process, as adding it too early can toughen the shrimp.

FAQs on Frozen Shrimp Turned White

Here is a list of questions and answers that those who cook shrimp often have regarding finding white spots on their frozen shrimp.

How do you tell if frozen shrimp has gone bad?

If your shrimp has gone bad, you will likely know it immediately, because it will emit an odor that is like rot. The texture of the shrimp will also be different, as it will be mushy, which is the total opposite of the firm texture that fresh shrimp should have.

Shrimp that has begun to go bad will also have black spots on its tail, as this is a clear indication that you should throw out the shrimp or take the chance on becoming ill.

Can I eat shrimp with freezer burn?

Despite the fact that freezer burn is unappealing, there is no harm in eating shrimp or other food that has it. While you might opt to throw away a carton of freezer-burned ice cream because the taste will be extremely compromised regardless of the addition of toppings, you might choose to cook your freezer-burned shrimp because if you season it well enough, you can possibly hide the nasty freezer-burned taste.

Can I consume frozen shrimp that is beyond its listed expiration date?

Keeping shrimp in the freezer is a great way to preserve it if you’re not going to cook it right away. However, a freezer can only preserve the shrimp to a certain extent, and if it’s beyond its expiration date, it might not be a good idea to eat it.

If you’re determined to eat the shrimp even though it’s expired, be sure to examine it carefully. Is there an unpleasant rotting smell? If not, you may be in the clear, as long as there are no other signs of decay. It’s not worth the risk of getting sick just to eat some shrimp, so you’re really better off tossing the shrimp if it’s out of date.

What are some of the best herbs and spices to season shrimp with to hide the taste of freezer burn?

Any herbs or spices that have a strong taste can be used to effectively hide the freezer-burned taste and smell on your shrimp. Garlic, onion, basil, and even soy sauce are some perfect seasoning to use on your shrimp for this purpose.

Using the proper seasonings can make your shrimp so delicious that you won’t detect any freezer burn taste in the least, which, of course, is the idea.

Are freezer burn prawns ok to eat?

Freezer burned prawns are safe to eat, but they may have a dry texture and a less flavorful taste due to the dehydration process of freezer burn.

Are white prawns safe to eat?

White prawns are safe to eat as long as they have been properly cooked and stored.

Can eating freezer burned food make you sick?

Eating freezer burned food will not make you sick, although it might not taste as good due to loss of moisture and flavor.

Are freezer burned shrimp safe to eat?

Freezer burned shrimp are safe to eat, but the quality in terms of taste and texture may be diminished.

Are frozen shrimp cooked?

Frozen shrimp can be either raw or cooked, depending on the product you purchase; check the packaging for clarification.

Can frozen shrimp get freezer burn?

Yes, frozen shrimp can get freezer burn if not properly stored or left in the freezer for an extended period of time.

Can I defrost shrimp in warm water?

It’s not recommended to defrost shrimp in warm water as it can lead to uneven thawing and potential bacterial growth; cold water is preferred.

Can I eat freezer burned shrimp?

You can eat freezer burned shrimp as it’s safe, but it may have a less appealing taste and texture.

Can you eat shrimp with white spots?

Shrimp with white spots could indicate a condition called “white spot disease” which is common in farmed shrimp; while not harmful to humans, it can affect the taste and texture of the shrimp.

Do you clean frozen shrimp?

Yes, you should clean frozen shrimp before cooking, even if it’s pre-peeled, to ensure any residual grit or vein is removed.

Does shrimp turn white when cooked?

Shrimp typically turns from a grayish color to pink with slight white hues when fully cooked.

How can you tell if shrimp is freezer burnt?

Shrimp that is freezer burnt often has a dry and shriveled appearance and may have white, icy deposits on it.

How do you know frozen shrimp is bad?

Bad frozen shrimp may have an off smell, a slimy texture, or discoloration.

How long can shrimp stay in the fridge?

Cooked shrimp can stay in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, while raw shrimp should be cooked within 1-2 days of refrigeration.

How long is frozen shrimp good for?

Frozen shrimp is typically good for up to 6 months if stored properly.

Is freezer burned shrimp ok to eat?

Freezer burned shrimp is okay to eat from a safety standpoint, but its quality in terms of taste and texture may be compromised.

What does freezer burn look like on shrimp?

Freezer burn on shrimp often appears as white, icy deposits and the shrimp may look dry or shriveled.

What does it mean when frozen shrimp turn white?

When frozen shrimp turn white, it could be a sign of freezer burn which results from dehydration and oxidation.

Why is my frozen shrimp turning white?

Your frozen shrimp might be turning white due to freezer burn, indicating that it’s been in the freezer for too long or not stored properly.

Why is my shrimp white after thawing?

If your shrimp is white after thawing, it could be due to freezer burn or it may have been pre-cooked before freezing.

Why does my frozen shrimp have white spots?

Your frozen shrimp has white spots due to a condition known as “shrimp freezer burn.” This happens when the shrimp loses moisture and then develops ice crystals on its surface. It’s not harmful, but it can affect the texture and taste of the shrimp.

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