Shrimp stays fresh in the refrigerator depending on its size (ranging from jumbo to miniature), its sea of origin, or its species, of which there are hundreds. But no matter what type of shrimp you buy, the fresher it is at the store, the longer it stays fresh at home. When buying shrimp, look for plumpness if it’s cooked and firm texture and consistent color if it’s raw.
Raw shrimp, either shelled or unshelled, stays fresh in a refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Make sure your fridge is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and place seafood in the lowest section, where temperatures are coldest. Wrap the shrimp well in plastic or keep it in an airtight container, and place the container on a plate to catch any potential drips.
Shelled and unshelled, cooked shrimp stays fresh for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge, wrapped in plastic or stored in an airtight container. If you buy shrimp on a hot day, ask for a cold pack with it, or put a cooler in your car to transport the it home. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, some food-borne bacteria double their growth for every 20 minutes they sit at temperatures above 40 degrees F.
When Shrimp Goes Bad
Cooked or raw shrimp should have a mild smell, so if you get a whiff of a strong ammonia odor when you unwrap it, it’s no good. It should also be firm, not soft and squishy, and have no dark spots or blotches, which are signs of bacteria. Throw away any shrimp that you suspect might be spoiled in any of these ways even if it’s been refrigerated for just 1 or 2 days.
Shrimp in the Freezer
Although shrimp stays safe from bacteria growth indefinitely in the freezer, its quality suffers and the flesh will be soft and unappetizing if you leave it frozen for too long. For the best quality, double-wrap the shrimp tightly, first in plastic and then in foil. Keep cooked shrimp frozen for 2 to 3 months, and fresh, uncooked shrimp for up to 4 months. Thaw frozen shrimp overnight in the refrigerator.