Should You Freeze Clam Chowder? (Tips Homemade vs Store-Bought)

When the weather starts to get colder, my family and I always turn to one dish, New England clam chowder. Hailing from the Northeast, New England clam chowder is hearty, rich, and a hit at dinner parties. When winter starts to creep in and you find yourself wanting a stick-to-your-bones meal, go ahead and make a big batch of New England clam chowder. You can freeze it!

There are several things you need to keep in mind before you freeze New England clam chowder but this guide will teach you exactly how to do it. Can new England clam chowder be frozen?

Generally speaking, New England clam chowder can be frozen. However, not all of the ingredients freeze well so you might experience unpleasant changes in texture and flavor if you freeze your New England clam chowder with cream or potatoes.

Freezing New England clam chowder with milk or cream is possible, but be sure to add in vegetables that don’t freeze well after you thaw your chowder.

Frozen New England clam chowder will last for 4 to 6 months in the freezer and can be reheated after defrosting in the refrigerator.

What Makes New England Clam Chowder Different?

The New England clam chowder is a common feature on many restaurant menus because it has that quintessential umami taste.

Chowders are soups made with different types of vegetables, onion, milk, and sometimes tomatoes.

One popular chowder is Manhattan clam chowder which contains tomatoes instead of milk.

It is full of vegetables and clams but doesn’t have potatoes or milk. Another well-liked chowder is corn chowder which is made with corn, heavy cream, butter, onion, and celery.

What makes New England clam chowder stand out among the chowders is its hearty and rich flavor. Ingredients usually found in New England clam chowders include milk and heavy cream, butter, clam juice, fresh or canned clams, potatoes, sometimes bacon or salt pork, bay leaves, and other herbs and spices.

This blend of briny clam broth with heavy cream and potatoes creates a salty, richness that many refer to as umami.

How Long Can You Keep New England Clam Chowder in The Fridge?

New England clam chowder stays fresh for 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Be sure to cool the New England clam chowder until there is no longer steam coming from it.

Then store your chowder in an airtight container. This includes both sealable plastic bags and hard containers made from plastic, metal, or glass.

After 5 days, the soup might begin to develop an unpleasant odor, appearance, or mold. This means that it’s time to throw it away.

How Long Can You Freeze New England Clam Chowder?

If you chose to freeze New England clam chowder, it will last 4 to 6 months in a freezer.

If you’re able to keep your freezer at 0°F all the time, it will last indefinitely. Most commonly, freezers are opened and closed often.

A frozen New England clam chowder stored in a freezer opened often will last up to 6 months. Although thawed soups with cream don’t taste ideal, you can still salvage New England clam chowder once frozen by re-emulsifying it.

Can You Freeze New England Clam Chowder With Potatoes?

It is not suggested to freeze New England clam chowder with potatoes. Potatoes don’t do well upon thawing.

When thawed, the frozen New England Clam chowder with potatoes might be soggy and watery.

The potatoes might become grainy. This is why we suggest you don’t freeze your New England clam chowder with potatoes.

New England Clam Chowder

If you decide to go ahead and try it, your soup might not have the same texture as it did when it was fresh but it is totally safe to freeze New England clam chowder with potatoes.

Can You Freeze Chowder With Cream In It?

Freezing chowder with cream will cause the broth and cream to separate upon thawing.

Frozen New England clam chowder with cream looks completely normal when frozen. However, as it thaws you will find that New England clam chowder with cream changes texture.

It is still safe to eat thawed chowder with cream, but it might not taste the way you hoped. This is why we don’t suggest you freeze chowders with cream in it. 

Although it’s not suggested, if your New England clam chowder has cream but no potatoes, you may be able to freeze it.

Frozen New England clam chowder containing cream and no potatoes, has the potential to be re-emulsified as it thaws. Do this by regularly whisking the chowder as it heats in a pot.

By using a whisk and briskly stirring, you will break down the separation between the broth and cream.

How to Freeze New England Clam Chowder

Even though it is not suggested that you freeze potatoes, there are ingredients of New England clam chowder which are ok to freeze.

The cream in New England clam chowder can freeze well as long as you’re able to re-emulsify it as it thaws. If you chose to try and freeze your New England clam chowder, follow these tips:

Cooling

If you want to freeze New England clam chowder, cool it completely before transferring it to a storage container.

Cool chowder until there is no longer steam coming from it. Feel free to put it directly into the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process.

Storage

Before freezing New England clam chowder, place it in a plastic bag or airtight container.

Leave a small amount of room in the container to allow for expansion. Vacuum sealing after freezing New England clam chowder in a plastic bag will greatly increase its shelf life.

Omit Ingredients That Don’t Freeze Well

Unfortunately, many of the major ingredients in New England clam chowder don’t freeze well.

These include potatoes, cream, and vegetables like celery. However, you can always freeze a New England clam chowder broth. By freezing the broth, you can still have a major component on hand at all times.

When you decide to make New England clam chowder, you can thaw the broth from frozen. Then mix in your potatoes, cream or milk, celery, and bacon for a delicious treat.

How to Reheat Clam Chowder

Although reheating New England clam chowder might be labor-intensive, it’s not as difficult as making it fresh.

Follow these steps to preserve freshness and texture when reheating New England clam chowder:

Defrost

When you’re ready to thaw your frozen New England clam chowder, remove it from the freezer and place it in your refrigerator.

You will probably need to leave this overnight for it to thaw completely.

If you are short on time, you can thaw New England clam chowder in a bowl under cold running water.

While this method will save thawing time, it might make the re-emulsion process take longer. It is also possible to defrost New England clam chowder from frozen.

Reheat

Once New England clam chowder is defrosted, it’s time to reheat. You can reheat in several different ways.

One way is to defrost and reheat from frozen. Remove frozen New England clam chowder from the bag and place it into a pot over medium-low heat. Stir continuously as the frozen chowder begins to melt.

Once it is in a mostly liquid state, increase heat to medium-high and stir rapidly to re-emulsify the cream and broth. You can try using a whisk as this will help.

Another method for reheating comes after it is fully defrosted. Simply pour thawed chowder into a microwave-safe dish and cover with plastic wrap.

Cook at 1-minute increments stirring between each one. Once heated, stir New England clam chowder briskly and enjoy.

The final method for reheating New England clam chowder is to pour defrosted chowder into a pot over medium-high heat.

Cover the pot with a lid until it is brought to a slight boil. Be sure to stir regularly to prevent the cream from curdling.

Add Ingredients

When you freeze New England clam chowder then reheat it, you may see a change in flavor or texture. Most often, the reheating process yields a chowder that is too thin or too thick.

 Clam Chowder

If your New England clam chowder is too thin, add cornstarch and water in a paste. Stir well and your chowder should retain some viscosity. If it is too thick, add extra milk, cream, or broth to the mix. Again, stir well.

Another option is to add ingredients that do not freeze well. Adding in newly prepped potatoes, celery, and herbs and spices to your once frozen New England clam chowder will liven it up.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of argument in regards to freezing New England clam chowder. Some people say it is just fine and others disagree saying that freezing it ruins the flavor and texture.

If your chowder was made with potatoes or celery it may be unappetizing after freezing.

However, you can enjoy frozen New England clam chowder with cream by re-emulsifying it during the reheating process.

Can you freeze New England clam chowder? Sure, just make sure you have all the knowledge first.

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