With its origins in Spain, Chorizo is a type of spicy sausage popular in Spanish, Mexican, and other cuisines. Known for its versatility and rich flavor, fresh Chorizo can add depth and heat to a dish. But what if you need to store some for later? Can you freeze Chorizo? Or should you avoid doing so?
Chorizo can be a great complement to a variety of dishes — from soups to tacos to burgers. And it actually comes in several different varieties, depending on the region where it’s made. The fillings and ingredients used can also affect the spicy flavor.
But if you have some leftover chorizo, can you store it in the freezer?
The short answer is yes, you can freeze chorizo. It should keep for up to 12 months in the freezer. But there are some caveats and best practices you’ll want to be aware of. Read on to find out more.
What is chorizo?
Let’s start by looking at what chorizo is and how it’s made.
Chorizo is a spicy sausage that has its roots in the Catalonia region of eastern Spain. Traditional Spanish chorizo is made with chopped pork, Spanish paprika, and garlic, then cured to produce a dry sausage similar in texture to salami. It’s often eaten with Tapas or on its own.
Chorizo began to spread throughout the world in locations where Spain established colonies, such as Latin America and the Philippines. Over time, each region developed its own recipes and different types of chorizo, using various spices and fillings.
For example, many New World chorizos may use local chilies to help add spice to the sausage. But in most cases, the main meat ingredient is still chopped or ground pork along with other ground meats, and the dominant spice is some type of paprika.
In the U.S., the most common type is Mexican chorizo. This raw chorizo is soft and is often made by adding vinegar to give the sausage some bright acidity and extra tanginess.
Whereas Spanish cured chorizo can be eaten without being cooked, traditional fresh Mexican chorizo does need to be cooked first. It also includes ground pork, and paprika, but may also have other types of meats and additional herbs and spices. To cook it, the casing is usually removed and the sausage is crumbled.
Can chorizo be frozen?
Both fresh and cured chorizo can be frozen. But the process for storing each kind is slightly different.
Steps to freeze fresh chorizo
If you have the fresh type of chorizo, you’ll be pleased to know that it typically freezes much better than cured kinds. That’s because the meat in fresh chorizo isn’t as susceptible to breaking down and becoming overly dry in the freezer as it can with cured varieties.
Since the filling inside fresh chorizo is soft, the freezing process is similar to storing other kinds of fresh ground meat, like ground beef or turkey. Here’s how to do it:
- Place your fresh chorizo in a freezer-safe bag and make it as airtight as possible. Or you could place it in a plastic airtight container, then place that inside a resealable plastic bag.
- Date the bag.
- Store in the freezer away from foods with strong odors like seafood which could seep into the chorizo.
Steps to freeze cured chorizo
While freezing chorizo that’s cured like the Spanish kind is possible, prolonged freezing can affect the taste and texture of the meat. This is true for most cured meats and sausages since they have a very low moisture content. And in most cases, cured chorizo can last several months in a pantry or a fridge, making freeing unnecessary.
But if you find yourself with extra cured chorizo which you don’t expect to consume for some time, follow these best practices to freeze it so it keeps for as long as possible.
- First, roll up your chorizo in plastic wrap or cling film making sure it’s completely covered.
- Then place it in an airtight container if you have one that’s big enough. If not, you can also use a freezer bag.
- Make sure it’s tightly sealed to prevent freezer burn and to keep odors from other food items in the freezer from affecting your chorizo.
- Write the date you’re storing the sausage on the bag, then lay it flat in the freezer.
Can I freeze cooked chorizo?
What if you’ve already cooked your chorizo but need to store some for later? The good news is you can freeze cooked chorizo. Simply place it in an airtight container and put it in the freezer. It should keep for up to 3 months.
How to defrost chorizo
When you’re ready to use your frozen chorizo, you’ll want to thaw it out properly.
Whether your chorizo is cured or not, the best way to do it is slowly in the fridge. Simply remove the container with the chorizo from the freezer the day before you plan to use it, and thaw it out in the refrigerator overnight.
If you need to thaw out fresh chorizo more quickly, you can also place the freezer bag in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes or so, checking it periodically to see whether it’s thawed.
Note: Don’t use hot water or let it thaw out at room temperature on a kitchen counter, as that could result in the growth of harmful bacteria in the meat.
How long does fresh chorizo last in the refrigerator?
If you don’t intend to store your raw, fresh chorizo long-term in the freezer, you need to keep it refrigerated. Since fresh chorizo is made with raw meat, it can spoil if kept at room temperature for more than a few hours. So it’s best to refrigerate uncooked chorizo it and consume it within a few days of purchase.
Unopened whole sausages in their original packaging should keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Once opened or once the casing is removed, it can last for up to 7 days.
Also, look for an expiration date on the package, and don’t use it if you’ve gone past the sell-by date.
How long does cured chorizo last?
Dry chorizo sausage does not need to be refrigerated and it can last for quite a long time if stored properly. For best results, keep your cured chorizo in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, like a pantry.
Cured unopened chorizo sausage can keep for up to 3 months. But once you open and cut into it, you’ll want to store it in the fridge, where the shelf life will be about 2-3 weeks.
How do I know if my chorizo has spoiled?
Like with most foods, the best way to determine whether your chorizo has started to spoil is to check three main things:
Since chorizo is made with various spices, it often has a strong smell, which is normal. But if your chorizo smells overly pungent or sharp, or is simply noticeably different from when you first bought it, that could be a sign it’s beginning to go bad.
Also, check the color of the sausage. If it looks darker in color or you see spots of what could be mold, especially on fresh chorizo, that’s another sign it may be spoiled.
Texture can be another indication of spoilage. Your dried, cured chorizo should be hard to the touch. If it starts to feel soft, mushy, or slimy, this may mean it’s going bad.
If you notice any of these changes in your chorizo, it’s a good idea to simply throw it out. Do not eat chorizo you suspect may have spoiled as it could lead to food poisoning.
If you’re cooking it in a pan, the texture of chorizo will be the best clue to when it’s done. If it’s crumbly and the texture resembles cooked ground beef, it’s finished cooking. If it’s still moist, then cook for a bit longer.
Chorizo usually comes in two primary varieties, Mexican and Spanish. Mexican chorizo is raw and needs to be cooked before use. Spanish is dry, cured chorizo and doesn’t need to be cooked before you eat it.
The bottom line
When considering whether to freeze your chorizo, it’s best to use the type of sausage as a guideline. If you have cured chorizo, like the Spanish type, you may not need to freeze it at all as it can keep unopened for several months in the fridge or pantry. It’s best not to freeze cured chorizo because it can affect the texture and taste.
If you have fresh Mexican chorizo sausages, freezing it is a simple process. Store it like you would other fresh meats in the freezer, by placing it in a sealed freezer bag. It should keep for up to 12 months if stored properly in the freezer.
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