What is Gumbo?
Gumbo is a Louisianan aromatic stew that is popular in the US state of Louisiana.
The consistency of this soup is thick and it is enriched with roux, different spices, and a mixture of fat and flour.
What makes this soup popular is that it’s easy to cook even in big batches and best served with rice in a bowl to absorb its rich spiciness.
In addition, Gumbo can either be made with seafood such as shrimp, crab, and oyster.
Or you can use different kinds of meat such as chicken, ham, duck or sausage.
When not mixed with Okra, it is thickened with Filé powder and blended with crushed, dried sassafras leaves, all added before serving.
Most Gumbos contain Okra because it is considered one of the dish’s classic ingredients due to its ability to give body to the soup.
How to Freeze Gumbo?
Gumbo can be frozen for up to 6 months. A major factor is the ingredients. Seafood, as well as rice, are not easy ingredients to freeze but it is definitely possible. Before freezing Gumbo, make sure to let it cool down by putting a bowl of it into cold water. Then portion it using ziplock bags and make sure to have sufficient space in the plastic bag. Press all of the air out of the ziplock bag. The Gumbo might otherwise explode. In addition label the bags with a marker so you know when it is time to eat the Gumbo. When using rice, separate the rice from the Gumbo and follow the same process.
The Gumbo Culture
Gumbo is combined with American, African, Indian, and European elements that influence its flavor.
The traditional historical Gumbo is the New Orleans variation that has French dark roux. Roux is flour browned in oil for an extended time.
The Creole and Cajun Gumbo on the other hand contain shellfish, dark roux, or Filé powder.
There is also a meatless version of Gumbo called ‘Gumbo Z’herbes’. This style consists of dozen leafy vegetables and is often eaten during Good Friday.
Can Gumbo be frozen?
Since Gumbo can be prepared in big batches you might wonder: “What if we didn’t finish the whole dish? Can we freeze it?” – Well the answer to your question is yes, you can freeze Gumbo so it can be eaten later on.
However, this will depend on its ingredients and whether it contains seafood on not. But usually, it can be frozen for 6 months.
Here are a few safety practices to consider before freezing Gumbo as well as some useful tips on how to properly freeze it to preserve its rich ingredients.
Factors to consider when freezing Gumbo
In any kind of food, once you have frozen and reheated it, it will never taste as good as before.
Well, stop, sometimes it tastes even better.
Things such as Spaghetti sauce are often better after you let them sit for a long time. But this might just be my personal opinion.
But not to worry, there is an excellent way to ensure the reheated Gumbo is going to taste great.
Since Gumbo has diverse ingredients, some of them might not taste well after freezing.
Let us take a look at some of the often-used ingredients of Gumbo:
- Bell peppers
Out of all these ingredients, two are a bit difficult and complicated to freeze – rice and shrimp.
We all know that rice does often not do well after behind frozen. It can taste terrible.
However, at least the Japanese often use leftover rice and freeze it to make onigiri (rice balls).
Shrimp on the other hand can become rubbery.
So here are some helpful tips before freezing your Gumbo:
How to freeze Gumbo with rice
If you want to freeze your Gumbo with rice, separate the rice from the Gumbo and put it into a different container.
Because when putting everything together, the rice will become soggy once reheated. So here’s how you should do it:
- Cook the rice normally.
- Once cooked, lay the rice on a baking sheet to be cooled for 20 minutes.
- Once cooled down, place each portion in a sealable bag or zip-lock plastic.
- Do not forget to label each with dates of freezing before you put them in the freezer.
- Make sure that the bags are laid flat to save space.
- Now you can use the rice for up to two months. This will help you avoid consuming too much time from cooking new rice once you needed to.
How to freeze Gumbo containing Shrimp
- First and foremost, cool down the gumbo before you freeze it. This holds true for all kinds of food. You have to cool down food before freezing in order to prevent bacterial growth.
- Do this by filling the sink with cool water before placing the pot of Gumbo into it.
- Just like the rice, you can place portions of it in a sealable bag or ziplock plastic. But remember not to fill the whole bag, and leave some inches of space at the top in order to prevent the Gumbo from exploding inside your freezer.
- Squeeze any excess air out as you seal the plastic bag tightly.
- Once again, do not forget to write the date of the freezing so you will know when it needs to be eaten.
This freezing method will also work with other seafood and meat.
How to reheat Gumbo?
There are two methods on how you will reheat the Gumbo. Either Place the frozen Gumbo into the fridge and allow it to thaw. This method will take a few hours, or it might even be left to thaw overnight.
The second method is the quickest way if you don’t have time to thaw the Gumbo for a couple of hours. Place it in a bowl of lukewarm water and constantly change the water every thirty minutes until fully defrosted.
Once the Gumbo has fully thawed, you can reheat it through the stove in the pan. It is best to be heated in medium-high heat until piping hot based on your liking.
Important note: never reheat the same Gumbo twice. Doing so will only lead to bacterial growth which will cause food poisoning. So you could either eat all of it or throw it away.
Frequently Asked Questions About Freezing Gumbo
How long can Gumbo be frozen?
Gumbo can be eaten up to six months after freezing. When Seafood is added in it should be consumed within 3 months. But when kept in the fridge it can be stored only for three days, when in a sealed airtight container.
Can Gumbo be eaten with different food apart from rice?
Although Gumbo is best eaten with rice, you can try different options such as your favorite bread, biscuits, a crispy garlic bread, or mash potato.