If you’re an avid fan of salmon, you might think twice about putting it in the freezer. After all, its texture is as delicate as its flavor, and you definitely don’t want freezing to ruin both.
But perhaps there was a sale at the grocery store on salmon. Or maybe you went just a tad bit overboard for your sashimi dinner party. Can you freeze salmon without losing its quality? Or do you just resort to eating salmon for dinner every night?
Luckily, the answer is yes, you can freeze salmon whether it’s raw or cooked. However, it is not as easy as simply popping it into the freezer like a TV dinner. Improper freezing techniques can ruin the delicate texture of salmon. And as you probably know by now, salmon with its texture destroyed is just plain unpleasant to eat.
Don’t fret, we’re here to help. Keep on reading to learn how you can freeze salmon without sacrificing its quality, but first, let’s get this question out of the way:
Should You Freeze Salmon?
Yes, absolutely. You can store raw salmon in the freezer for up to 3 months. Cooked salmon, on the other hand, should be safe to store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
However, using the right freezing method is vital to maintaining your salmon’s quality. Keep in mind that salmon–just like any other fish–is softer and has more water than other types of meat.
Hence, it is more prone to forming ice crystals upon freezing and losing its rigidity upon thawing. That said, freezing salmon improperly can change its texture drastically–flavor, even more so.
So, how do you freeze salmon without compromising its quality?
Here’s what we found:
How Do You Freeze Salmon Properly?
There are two ways to freeze salmon, depending on whether it’s cooked or not. First, let’s talk about how to freeze raw salmon:
Freeze Raw Salmon
Before freezing raw salmon, make sure it is not on the way to being bad. If you’ve just bought your salmon from the store, you should be good to go.
Here are the steps on freezing raw salmon properly:
- Gently run the fish under cold water to clean it. If you’re freezing whole raw salmon, remove the bones and cut it into portions next.
- Pat the fish dry with a paper towel.
- Put your salmon in an airtight bag and remove as much air as possible.
- Write the date on the bag then put it into the freezer. Make sure that there is enough room in the freezer for air to circulate properly and your salmon is on top of other containers.
Raw salmon will remain in its best quality for up to 3 months in the freezer. After that, the quality starts going down.
Freeze Cooked Salmon
Cooked salmon lasts a bit longer than raw salmon; you can store it in the freezer for up to 6 months before it starts losing quality.
For cooked salmon, here is the freezing method we recommend:
- Place your cooked salmon in an airtight container.
- We recommend removing fruits and vegetables that spoil fast (e.g. tomato, avocado, kale) if you plan to freeze your salmon for a long time.
- Label the container with today’s date before putting it in the freezer.
For both raw and cooked salmon, it is important to keep your freezer temperature consistently at 0°F or below. Frozen fish can remain juicy when kept at a consistent temperature, but it will lose moisture if the temperature goes up and down. (*)
To prevent temperature cycling, avoid overcrowding your freezer and opening the door for longer than a few seconds. If your freezer cannot maintain 0°F, we do not recommend long-term storage for salmon.
By following these proper freezing techniques, your salmon should taste and feel almost the same as when you first bought/cooked it.
Can You Freeze a Whole Salmon?
If you’ve bought a whole salmon or caught it on your own, you can keep it in the freezer for up to 12 months.
Simply wash your fish, gut it, and put it into an airtight container before freezing it.
Now, it’s time to learn how to defrost salmon properly for the best quality possible:
How To Thaw Frozen Salmon?
One advantage of salmon is that it thaws quite quickly. However, slow thawing is still the best way to go.
When you’re ready to eat your frozen salmon, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it defrost for 6 to 8 hours. This method will preserve most of the salmon’s quality.
For faster thawing, place your salmon (while it is still in its container) under the tap and let cold water run over it for 30 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, you can also thaw your salmon in the microwave using the defrost setting.
Just keep in mind that thawing your salmon in cold water or in the microwave can cause some noticeable changes in texture.
Can You Refreeze Salmon?
You can refreeze any meat as long as you thawed it in the refrigerator properly. If you thawed your salmon and did not use all of it, put it back into the freezer within two days.
To be extra safe, however, we recommend cooking your salmon before refreezing it.
How To Tell if Salmon Is Bad?
When your salmon has gone off, it will smell bad (overly fishy) and the flesh will be mushy. You may also notice that its color has become gray.
These signs call for immediate disposal of your salmon. Also, make sure to clean anything that the spoiled salmon has touched after you took it out of the container.
No. Freezing salmon does not ruin it. In fact, freezing salmon is a great way to preserve it.
Salmon can be frozen in two ways: iced or vacuum-packed.
Iced salmon should be placed in a single layer on a baking sheet and covered with plastic wrap before being frozen. Vacuum-packed salmon can be frozen without thawing first.
It’s important to note that the quality of the vacuum-packed product will be better than the quality of the iced product because ice crystals can damage fish cells.
There are pros and cons to both methods. If you freeze salmon raw, you’ll have to cook it before eating, but it will taste fresher. On the other hand, you freeze salmon cooked, it won’t taste as fresh, but you can eat it straight out of the freezer.
Freezing is a great way to preserve salmon’s freshness–but only if you do it right. The next time you have excess salmon–whether raw or cooked–follow our freezing methods above to keep it in tip-top shape for months to come.
We hope we’ve answered your question: “Does salmon freeze well?” in the best way possible. For more informative articles like this, don’t forget to check out our blog!