How Long is Sea Food Fresh?
Seafood can sometimes be an intimidating main course for home cooks because it is known as one of the most perishable items in the market. So how long is fish fresh? Of course the answer to that question is “it depends.” In order to demystify sea food perishabilty it is important to understand what to look for and how to recognize fresh fish and signs fish is spoiled when you see it and more importantly how to keep fish fresh once you get it home.
It is often recommended not to buy fish any more than one day before you plan to eat it, but when it comes to real life and meal planning that is not always possible. So where should you begin? One of the keys to having fresh fish at home is starting with the freshest fish possible and if you didn’t catch it yourself how do you know if the fish is fresh? A good tip is that the freshest fish often comes to market on Tuesdays, but if you aren’t in a coastal town there are still a number of key things you can look for determine the freshness of the fish: The skin should be shiny, not dull. The eyes should be clear and bright, not cloudy or dull. Furthermore, if there is any liquid, it should be watery, not-milky which is the first sign of rotting fish. Probably the most obvious sign of freshness is the smell, or more accurately the lack of smell. Fresh fish should never have a fishy smell.
Now that you’ve selected your fish how can you keep it fresh until you’re ready to eat it? You’ve probably noticed at your favorite seafood restaurant and even at the market that fresh fish is kept on ice. The best way to store fish in your refrigerator is on ice in plastic container with holes poked in the bottom for drainage, inside a larger plastic container to catch the water as the ice melts. The idea is to keep the fish as cold as possible without actually freezing it.
In order to keep fish fresh for more than two days, freezing it is the only way to go. In order to avoid freezer burn there should be no direct contact between the fish and the cold air. Ideally fresh fish should be vacuum wrapped in the freezer. Fresh fish can last up to three months in the freezer. When ready to thaw, frozen fish should always be placed in either the refrigerator or under cold water – never in the microwave or even just on the counter.
While fish may be perishable it can also make for a very quick, easy and healthy meal. Whether fresh from the market or from the freezer, fish can be perfectly prepared in just minutes when broiled, baked, steamed or even grilled and topped with just a little bit of lemon juice and salt and pepper. Enjoy!