Thick, spicy gumbo is the ultimate comfort food. Double that comfort with the knowledge that you've made enough to freeze extra portions of the stew for future meals. Chicken and sausage gumbo is one version of Louisiana's iconic dish. Chicken and sausage, animal proteins, spoil if not processed properly, making it all the more vital that you take care to freeze and thaw the gumbo efficiently.
Place the stew-pot holding the hot cooked gumbo into a sink full of ice water and frequently stir the gumbo as it cools. This action cools the stew quickly, which prevents food spoilage due to multiplying bacteria. A freezer is slower to completely cool foods. Keep the stew-pot's lid above the surface of the ice water.
Ladle the cooled gumbo into freezer bags or freezer containers. Select the packaging sizes based on whether you will be reheating the stew for family meals or single-serving meals. For the best quality, separate into several portions, rather than one large container. Limit family-sized portions to 1 gallon.
Seal the freezer bags after expelling excess air, or secure the lid on the freezer containers. Wipe away any spills on the outside of the package with a clean cloth. Label the freezer packages, noting the contents and the date.
Set the freezer packages in a single layer in your freezer's coldest section. Once the gumbo appears to have frozen solid, stack the bags or containers so they take less space.
For a complete meal, include cooked rice with the gumbo. For individual serving sizes, use about 1/2-cup rice. For 32-ounce packages, include about 2 cups of rice with the gumbo.
To safely thaw the gumbo, set the freezer package in the refrigerator the night before you plan to heat it.
Recommendations for the maximum freezer storage time for hearty cooked meals such as gumbo vary from 1 to 6 months. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's general recommendation for soups and stews is from 2 to 3 months. Discard any foods that look questionable when thawed.