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How to keep gumbo from spoiling

Gumbo is delicious and satisfying, but the last thing you want it to be is unpalatable. Since seafood, chicken, sausage, and rice are the primary ingredients in gumbo, it is necessary to understand these ingredients as it will help you to know how to keep gumbo from spoiling.

To keep gumbo from spoiling, cook the roux before the vegetables, then add the vegetables to the roux, and leave the soup in the pot until time to serve. If you want to reheat later, reheat by letting the stove simmer on medium-low heat (3 minutes per serving). Do not boil. 

Gumbo leftovers can be covered and refrigerated with average refrigerator temperatures between about 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit; it is sufficient to keep cooked gumbo from spoiling. You can freeze gumbo soup in a sealable container or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer immediately after it cools (within two hours).

And if you must leave it overnight before putting it in the freezer, then divide the soup into several small containers that will freeze quickly.

What is gumbo soup

What is gumbo soupGumbo is the collective name for a stew of meat and vegetables with a thick gravy made of roux, commonly served over rice. It is the national dish of Louisiana and is generally associated with Louisiana Creole cuisine, which is rooted in French, Spanish, African, English, and Native American cooking techniques. The word “gumbo” can be traced to West African roots. The root word “gombo” means okra (the popular ingredient in gumbo).

Gumbo is a thick, hearty soup with a dark brown broth that is flavored with seasonings such as file powder, garlic, thyme, and onion. It is traditionally served over rice, or cooked rice is added to the soup. It is made by combining ingredients such as shellfish, okra, meat (pork, chicken, beef, or sausage), seafood (shrimp and oysters), sausage, and vegetables such as bell peppers and celery. What truly makes it unique is its broth.

It is one of the most versatile, flavorful, and nourishing dishes on earth. Depending on who’s cooking it, it can be formed into various consistencies ranging from thick stew to what might be considered “soup” in the truest sense. It can come with or without meat or seafood depending on what region of the country or even the world.

Gumbo soup recipes

Gumbo is a delicious stew-like soup with recipes consisting of meat (usually chicken, seafood, or both), broth, rice, okra, and spices. Its recipe has many variations, but the common ingredients include creole (or Cajun) seasoning, seasoned salt, black pepper, file powder, dried thyme, onion, celery, garlic, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, green bell pepper, tomato paste, or sauteed chopped tomatoes.

One of the absolute best ingredients in gumbo is okra; it adds a great flavor and maintains the consistency of the gumbo for up to 3 days after it’s made. It is one of the few dishes containing okra that is actually eaten in the South. Gumbo recipes use roux, which is flour and fat cooked together to make a thickener for soups and stews. 

The roux is started in a skillet with a small amount of fat and heated until the mixture becomes dark brown; the ideal gumbo starts with a dark roux and usually contains shellfish and/or okra and filé powder added to thicken it. Store it in an airtight container.

How to keep gumbo from spoiling – The step-by-step guide

How to keep gumbo from spoiling1. Stored within 1 hour after cooking

Leftover gumbo can be stored within 1hour after cooking in a refrigerator for up to three days. Cover the leftovers before placing them in the refrigerator as soon as you’re done eating and serving. To speed up the cooling process, add ¼ cup of lemon juice to the warm gumbo before refrigerating. Acidity in the lemon juice tends to react with the alkalinity of the okra and tomatoes to completely destroy any toxins that may have been produced during cooking or marinating. The flavors and nutrients will stay intact, and your gumbo will taste like you just cooked it.

2. Transfer the leftover into a small container

Transfer the leftover into a small container before placing it in the refrigerator. This allows for efficient space utilization while still keeping your tasty dish out of harm’s way. The smaller containers are better for storing foods because they are less likely to drip. 

This technique is especially helpful for large batches of gumbo that won’t be eaten any time soon since the average shelf life of prepared gumbo is only three days.

3. Transporting

The best way to transport gumbo would be to put it in non-breakable containers that have tight-fitting lids and pack it in coolers with ice(not crushed) between the gumbo containers. When you get to where you are going, empty it into a bowl and reheat it before serving it hot. Do not microwave. Serve hot.

4. Let gumbo cool enough before keeping it in the fridge

Let your gumbo sit at room temperature until it’s cooled to room temperature. Once it’s no longer piping hot (which could kill your refrigerator’s compressor), place the gumbo into an airtight container or storage bag to prevent any food odors from permeating the dish. Place the container in the back of your fridge, so it’s not directly on a shelf and doesn’t get too warm.

5. Thaw before reheating

When you freeze gumbo, it’s important to freeze it in a sealed airtight container. Then thaw the gumbo completely before reheating by placing it in a saucepan on low heat for about 10 minutes.

It can be reheated by one of two means: reheating a saucepan over medium heat or reheating in a preheated 350 °F (176 °C) oven. Reheat gumbo in a simmering-hot pan rather than a microwave or directly on your stovetop flame.

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How to reheat gumbo

How to reheat gumboThere are many ways to reheat gumbo, but the most common ways are using a microwave or using an oven. The preference will depend on the gumbo you’ve made and how long it’s been refrigerated.

Using a microwave

 Before reheating gumbo in a microwave, it is important that there be no ice in the soup when you reheat it. Otherwise, if the ice is not melted or eliminated by consuming some of the soup before you heat it up, the heat of the renewed heat will break down the gumbo into a thin congealed mess.

To reheat a gumbo, simply place the gumbo in a large bowl and microwave it on high power for two minutes. Stir well, scraping up all the meat and vegetable pieces, then continue microwaving until hot, about one to three minutes more, depending on your microwave strength. If you prefer, you can add a small amount of water to the bowl before heating. Cool slightly before serving.

If gumbo is soupy, microwave it for four to six minutes until steaming hot. If the gumbo is dry or crusty, microwave it for 10 to 16 minutes. Reheated gumbo will not have the same depth of flavor or consistency as freshly prepared gumbo.

Using Oven

Use the oven to reheat gumbo after it’s been prepared to lock in all that great flavor. It is heavy and sticky food. After the first day, the eggplant, fish, and okra spoil and lose their taste. If you freeze the gumbo to save it for later use, then defrost it completely before reheating.

Reheat gumbo by baking in a 375° oven for about 15 minutes. Put a serving bowl on a baking sheet and add a few tablespoons of hot water to insulate the bowl. Bake for20 minutes, then let it cool for 5 minutes before serving again. You can also wrap the oven-safe bowl in 2 or 3 large foil sheets and reheat for about 30 minutes.

You might consider placing the bowl in a preheated 600-degree Fahrenheit microwave and reheating it in 30-second increments until it’s warm enough to eat.

Related Post: How long do artichokes last without spoiling

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Can You Freeze Gumbo?

You can freeze Gumbo, but it is not recommended. Though frozen Gumbo will reheat just fine, you may notice a difference in texture, and the Gumbo is more likely to separate during thawing.

Being a soup or porridge-laced dish, Gumbo makes freezing easier than most other food items. It should be frozen in the same manner as it is canned, i.e., in freezer bags or plastic containers. It is best to freeze Gumbo in single-serving containers to be easily measured out for a quick meal or snack.

However, it depends on the type of Gumbo you cook and factors such as the ingredients used and the size of the pot. Seafood gumbos are generally better for freezing, as recipes do not contain dairy products, tomatoes, or other fatty meats.

How to Cook Gumbo Soup

Gumbo soup is a stew that is thick and hearty. Like many dishes, Gumbo depends heavily on the quality of its ingredients. You will need Andouille sausage, chicken, bell peppers, okra, and tomatoes to make this recipe. 

The steps to cook gumbo soup are as follows: 

1. Prepare your ingredients: okra, turkey, turtle meat, chunky file, beef bouillon powder, red hot sauce, pork meat, and smoked sausage 

2. Wash all the green leaves 

3. Slice everything- herbs and sausage 

4. Fry all the items- green leaves, red onions, and garlic cloves 

5. Later on, you could simmer everything for about 30 minutes 

6. Pour in the season with thyme and oregano 

7. let it simmer for 10 more minutes 

8. Pour in the rice wine 

9. Add in the water 

10. Later on top of that, add turkey, turtle meat, and hot sauce. Finally, let it simmer for 50 minutes 

Additionally, take your time when making this dish to get the best-tasting and most authentic result. Adding too many ingredients at once or cooking it too long will cause it to lose its flavor.

What Is the Secret Ingredient in Gumbo?

It’s okra. This soft and slim vegetable adds just the right amount of spice and thickness to Gumbo.

Okra is a unique vegetable that adds a delicate taste and slippery texture to Gumbo. Fresh, frozen, or dried okra can be used in any recipe.

How Long Should Gumbo Simmer?

The cooking time depends on what you’re using for heat. If your stovetop has two different temperatures, use the lower temperature for the first 2 hours of cooking before switching to the higher temperature.

Moreso, a gumbo or stew pot needs a good solid 75 minutes to bring its level of heat up high enough to get it boiling. For health reasons, you never want to bring your temperature over 180 degrees F as it could kill off any good bacteria growing there.

However, using a large stockpot will require less time than a cast iron Dutch oven which holds the heat in better and allows you to lower your heat and extend the boiling time without worrying about the temperature getting too high.

What Gives Gumbo Its Flavor?

Good Gumbo has a delicious smoky flavor. Along with that, other ingredients create the taste of well-seasoned Gumbo. A good choice of meat is important, and most gumbo chefs use chicken, ham, or sausage. Seafood is also essential for Gumbo, and shrimp, oysters, crawfish, crab, or alligator can be used.

Initially, its taste comes from a roux, a combination of parts butter or oil and flour, heated until the mixture turns light brown or “blond.” It’s a thickener in Cajun and Creole cooking, but its flavor makes the dish.

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Can Cooked Gumbo Be Frozen?

Cooked Gumbo can be frozen. Once the Gumbo has been prepared and cooled, it will freeze well for two months. When reheating cooked Gumbo that has been frozen, add it to a saucepan and warm over medium heat until heated through. 

However, do not microwave or reheat completely frozen Gumbo by placing it into a microwave. Either of these methods will cause the Gumbo to thaw very quickly, and the shrimp will begin to cook in the middle, which may result in the center being undercooked when all is said and done. 

If there is any chance that your Gumbo is still frozen when you try to reheat, thaw it in the refrigerator and reheat as above.

What Makes Gumbo Spoil So Quickly?

Gumbo spoils quickly due to three things 

1. Not using special ingredients (like okra)

2. Using too much liquid,

3. Not letting it sit uncovered after cooking.

Additionally, another reason gumbo doesn’t last longer is that the file powder used when overcooked loses its gelling consistency, a process that allows it to thicken soups and stews.

How to know if gumbo is spoiled

How to know if gumbo is spoiledSpoiled gumbo usually develops a thin layer of mold on top of the soup. The color of spoiled gumbo is usually green, sometimes with white lumps. The texture is usually thin and watery rather than thick.

If the gumbo is spoiled, it will smell “off” and taste much different than before. If it previously had a spicy flavor, it will now have an unpleasant odor. Spoiled gumbo can cause serious food poisoning. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes seafood gumbo to spoil?

The leading cause of seafood gumbo going bad is not storing it properly. If the seafood is not stored correctly or if your refrigerator is too warm or too cold, then odor-causing bacteria that naturally occurs on all seafood will cause the food to rot. Foodborne illness can be caused by bacteria and parasites that contaminate food. Spoilage is caused by chemical reactions in food that lead to the food’s not tasting, smelling, or looking good.

Can you refrigerate gumbo while it’s hot?

Technically, the gumbo could be refrigerated, but before doing so, make sure to cool down for a while or set it out on a counter. If you have added shrimp or seafood to your gumbo, you’ll want to wait until it cooled completely before transferring it to the refrigerator.

How long will gumbo stay fresh?

At room temperature, the fully cooked gumbo will stay fresh for four days. After this period, the flavor will still be acceptable, but it will start to dry out—Freeze gumbo in meal-size portions for up to six months. The freezer may extend the shelf life of gumbo, but expect that it will be less tasty when it thaws out because freezing will change its texture.

Should gumbo be thick or soupy?

You only need to worry less about how long to cook your seafood or roux; if you prefer your gumbo thicker, go ahead and reduce the sauce. But the soupy approach is better because it adds another element of soupiness to this hearty dish.

Does gumbo reheat well?

Gumbo reheats well. You can reheat gumbo in the microwave or on the stovetop. Before you decide how to reheat your gumbo, consider what you used for thickening it. Some thickeners do not need to be heated before serving again.


Gumbo is one of the best dishes in the world, rich, thick, spicy, and comforting. It’s easy to make but can spoil fast unless you know the secret to how to keep gumbo from spoiling. Eat your soup as soon as you can after cooking, or freeze it for later purposes.

How to keep gumbo from spoiling

Gumbo Recipe

Gumbo is delicious and satisfying, but the last thing you want it to be is unpalatable.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gumbo Recipe
Servings: 4
Calories: 496kcal


  • 1 Skillet


  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 12 oz. andouille sausage
  • 1 tbsp. cajun seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp
  • 3 green onions
  • white rice cooked


  • Melt butter in a sizable, deep skillet over low heat before stirring in flour. About 10 minutes of continual stirring is required to achieve a dark caramel hue.
  • Continue stirring for another 5 minutes or until the onions, peppers, and celery are tender. Add salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning after incorporating the garlic and sausage. Bring to a boil while stirring in the bay leaf, diced tomatoes, and chicken broth. Simmer for about an hour while stirring regularly on low heat to thicken.
  • Add shrimp 10 minutes before serving. Taste the shrimp once it is pink and fully cooked, then adjust the seasonings. Green onions are added while some are saved for garnish.
  • Spoon over white rice when serving.



Calories: 496kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 1677mg | Potassium: 722mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 3774IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 3mg
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