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How long will frozen fish keep in my freezer?
8/27/2004
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Question of the month:
How long will frozen fish keep in my freezer?

Randy's answer:
This will vary according to the type of freezer one has. In ideal conditions frozen fish will retain its quality for many months. We hold ours at a constant -10° F, which is substantially colder than most home freezers. If you have a good quality freezer that maintains a stable sub-zero temperature, your vacuum-sealed fish will retain its quality for many months as well.

On the other hand, if your freezer is the "frost-free" type or the package’s airtight seal is lost, storage time will be less. Frost-free freezers stay that way by repeatedly cycling through thawing temperatures. This is hard on the stored contents and shortens optimum storage time. If you've ever wondered why your ice cubes thaw or ice cream gets that funny taste, now you know. (Frost-free freezers also use more electricity than conventional freezers.) If you have this type of freezer, you may want to consider limiting storage periods to six weeks or so. If you wish to buy larger quantities and hold them for longer periods, we recommend you acquire a good quality conventional chest or upright freezer.

No matter how good your freezer, nothing will save a piece of fish if the package’s air tight seal is lost. Those wonderful omega-3 fats are highly unstable and quickly oxidize once exposed to air. You can recognize oxidation from the rancid, “fishy” smell and taste that accompanies it. If you retrieve a portion from your freezer that appears to have a broken seal, give it the “sniff test.” You’ll know right away whether to discard it or not.

As many of our customers already know, it’s a myth that freezing degrades the quality of seafood. Properly packaged, well frozen salmon, halibut, tuna and other seafood products will retain their flavor and nutritional quality for many months. Freezing is a convenient way to keep nutritious high quality foods readily available—and it’s a good thing it does, otherwise, we couldn’t enjoy succulent wild salmon for most of the year!

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