Recently, a customer asked us a common question: “How long will frozen fish keep in my freezer?”
When properly packaged and frozen, fish and shellfish will retain their ocean-fresh flavor and nutritional quality for many months. Exact times depend on several factors, including the type of freezer, the kind of seafood being stored, and the product's packaging integrity.
Freezer type and temperature
At temperatures of 0° F or lower, vacuum-sealed fish will retain quality for 6-12 months (sometimes longer). At higher temperatures (as in “frost free” freezers), it will last roughly 3 months.
Prior to shipping, we store our seafood products at a constant -10° F or lower.
"Frost-free" freezers work by occasionally raising the temperature to dislodge ice, which over time can degrade the quality of your frozen foods. If you have a frost-free freezer and have ever wondered why your ice cubes evaporate or ice cream gets an off-flavor, now you know. (Frost-free freezers also tend to use more electricity than conventional freezers.)
Low-fat seafoods can be stored longer
Shellfish and lower-fat fish such as halibut, yellowfin tuna, or cod tend to have a longer freezer life than fattier fish like salmon, sablefish, or Chilean sea bass because they contain fewer polyunsaturated fats (omega-3s) that are prone to oxidation.
Packaging matters, vacuum sealed is best
Exposure to air greatly shortens the quality of all frozen foods, but especially seafood, so packaging integrity is paramount. Any frozen items that lose their vacuum seal should be used first. That's because, as mentioned above, the omega-3 fats unique to seafood (DHA and EPA), while uniquely healthful, are extremely vulnerable to oxidation. No matter how good your freezer, nothing will save a piece of seafood if its package's airtight seal is lost. This is the reason so-called "fresh seafood" sold in markets and restaurants is quite often disappointing. (More about this later.)
Your nose knows
You can recognize oxidized seafood from its rancid or “fishy” odor and flavor. If you thaw a portion of fish that appears to have a broken seal give it the “sniff test.” You'll know right away whether to discard it or not.
Show me the science
A 2017 study by the University of Oregon and Ecotrust reported that "flash-frozen fish can be a fresher, higher quality product than never-frozen fish purchased at retail. Consumers could tell a statistically-significant difference between fresh and previously-frozen products, and did not prefer the fresh-never-frozen fish in any category of acceptability."
Other key findings:
Freezing has been called "nature's preservative" and is a convenient way to keep nutritious, high-quality seafood readily available — and it's a good thing it does. Otherwise, we couldn't enjoy wonderful wild salmon and seafood throughout the year.
Our founder Randy's answer:
As our long-time customers know, it's a myth that freezing necessarily degrades the quality of seafood. In fact, Jane Brody, health and nutrition columnist for The New York Times, once put it this way: "The freshest seafood is that which has been frozen shortly after harvest and remains that way until cooked."
Our seafood is caught and flash-frozen on-board, or deep-chilled on ice or in refrigerated seawater until arriving onshore for further processing. Flash-freezing uses ultra-low temperatures and air circulation to freeze seafood in a matter of minutes, preserving its fresh-caught quality at the peak of perfection.
Getting back to your question, when properly packaged and frozen, fish and shellfish will retain their ocean-fresh flavor and nutritional quality for many months. Exact times depend on several factors, including the type of freezer, the kind of seafood being stored, and the product's packaging integrity.
Founder & CEO