Storing seafood is easy but it’s not throw-in-the-fridge-and-forget-about-it easy. Here are a couple of tips that might help you feel better about your seafood storing skills.
Fish needs to remain under 38 degrees Fahrenheit (32 is recommended) in cold-storage from when it leaves the boat to when it gets to your plate. The average refrigerator temperature is also 38 degrees which means that your fridge is likely the warmest place that your fish is going to be stored since it was harvested. To keep it cold, put your fish (wrapped in plastic or in a container) in a tray of ice to keep it colder in your refrigerator.
Most fish freezes really well and can be cooked from frozen. If you’re not going to eat your fish within three-to-four days, just freeze it. Portion it out so that when you’re ready to cook it you can just throw it in a baking dish or tray with some butter on top. Adjust your cooking time a bit to include time for the fish to defrost. There are some fish that aren’t favorable to freezing, like hake. This fish turns a bit mushy, which is why old-timers would salt it.
Salt it! There are numerous ways to salt whole fish and it makes for a great snack. (I haven’t found an easy online recipe so stay tuned!)
Smoke it! Everyone loves a good smoked pork butt or smoked chicken, try fish, too! Mackerel is good, but smoked mackerel is outstanding. Smoked seafood also lasts a bit longer, and it makes a really tasty, healthy, and satiating snack. Also, smoked fish tacos.
Freeze fish in milk. This is another old-timer trick. You can either use fillets or leftover fish trimmings. Put all the fish in a bag, dump some milk in, freeze. When you want to make a chowder just pull out your fish-in-frozen-milk and put it in the pot, then add your other ingredients. The milk helps maintain the texture of the fish and makes for a good chowder base. (I haven’t tried it with almond, oat, or soy milk yet. I’d like to think it would have the same effect but something tells me maybe not. Have you tried it? Let me know.)
Lobster: Lobster is best cooked the day you buy it. If you need to store if for a few hours you can do so in the crisper drawer. If you can get your hands on some seaweed and cover the lobsters with it, that’s helpful. Plus, then you can use the seaweed in the pot when you cook the lobsters. Mainers steam their lobsters, we don’t boil them. You should only have a couple of inches of water in your pot and throw the seaweed in to keep the lobsters out of the water. (I would err on the side of cooking most shellfish the day of.)
Oysters: I’ve been told that you can keep oysters for quite a while if you store them in a paper bag in the coldest part of your fridge.
I hope these quick tips help you think about new ways to eat, cook, and store seafood so it’s available to you for longer - and throughout the year.
One of my favorite types of seafood to freeze is scallops. They are only available through the winter in Maine but I love to eat them during the summer. I buy scallops by the gallon (s) and freeze them in 1 lb. packages so I can enjoy them whenever my little heart desires.