The refrigerator is an excellent place to store fresh fish for 3 to 4 days after you’ve purchased it.
Here are some tips on how to maintain the quality of your fish during the few days that you have it before cooking or freezing it:
- Buy only as much fish as you can use in a day or two; try not to keep fish for more than three days, because it can get slimy or “off” from bacterial growth.
- Fish that looks very fresh may not have been treated with a preservative to inhibit microbial growth, and is best used within 1 day of purchase; frozen fish should be thawed in the refrigerator.
- Place the package on a plate surrounded by ice, in the bottom of the refrigerator; do not store fish on top of foods that give off strong odors.
- Refrigerate raw and cooked fish separately to prevent contamination. Never thaw fish at room temperature or on a countertop because bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature(between 40-140 degrees F).
- Cook fish within 2 to 3 days of purchasing it.
- Freeze fish if you do not plan to cook or eat it within 2 to 3 days. While frozen, keep the fish in its original wrapping; use a liquid-tight resealable plastic bag after thawing.
- Place raw meat and cooked fish (that has not been reheated) in separate containers to prevent cross-contamination.
- Never thaw fish on the countertop or at room temperature; microwave thawing is quicker and less likely to allow bacteria growth than leaving it out at room temperature. If microwaving, cook immediately after thawing, otherwise, the cooked fish may end up tasting “off” from bacterial growth.
- Reheating fish is safe as long as the product stays above 140 degrees F.
- Fish that has been previously frozen should not be refrozen after cooking because bacteria may grow in the thawed part.
- Avoid refreezing any leftovers that have been thawed.
- Do not eat fish with an off-odor or appearance; discard immediately.
- After cooking, do not leave food out longer than 1 hour at room temperature because the product could become unsafe to eat; reheat it promptly after cooling or refrigerate it right away.
- Make sure to clean the inside of your refrigerator periodically because bacteria and odors can accumulate.
- Remember that fish spoils rapidly after it has been thawed, so consume or cook it within 2 days after purchase; otherwise, discard any leftovers.
- Do not allow cooked shellfish to remain at room temperature for more than 2 hours—1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees F.
- If serving raw or partially cooked seafood, such as sushi or sashimi, keep it refrigerated at 45 to 50 degrees F before serving. If the food has been out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, throw it away; do not taste it even if you don’t think it looks or smells.
With all those tips, I hope you get the most out of your fish purchases.