Fish is a popular seafood that’s enjoyed around the world. There are hundreds of different types of fish available. If you buy them at the store or catch fish yourself, you need options for storage and preservation.
How long does fish last in the freezer? If the fish is properly stored, it can last between 6 months and two years in the freezer. This will depend on how the fish is frozen, the type of fish it is and the type of freezer you’re using. It’s important to prepare the fish correctly and properly store it as well so that it will last as long as possible.
Frozen Fish Shelf Life
|Frozen Without Water
|Lean: <4% fat
|Up To 6 Months
|Fatty: >4% fat
|Up To 4 Months
Factors That Affects Shelf Life Of Frozen Fish
When it comes to how long fish will stay fresh in the freezer, it depends on a couple of different factors. Below are the three main factors that affect the shelf life of the fish stored in the freezer:
The type of freezer you have will actually determine how long the frozen fish can last. A good quality freezer will be able to maintain a stable temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a conventional freezer which is found in most homes.
Nowadays, there is another type of freezer available on the market. It’s the “frost-free” type of freezer. If you have this type of freezer, frozen fish storage time will be reduced.
Frost-free freezers work by periodically raising the temperature to remove ice within the freezer. Due to the temperature not remaining steady, it can degrade the quality of the fish and reduce their shelf life.
Type of Fish
The type of fish you’re planning to freeze is an important factor too. Fish such as the halibut, cod, and yellowfin tuna have lower-fat content. This means it can be frozen for much longer.
Fattier fish, on the other hand, like salmon, sablefish, or Chilean sea bass will not last very long in the freezer. Since they contain fewer polyunsaturated fats (omega-3s), these fish are prone to oxidation.
The storage container or freezer bag that you use will also determine the shelf life of the frozen fish. Exposure to air will greatly shorten the quality of it.
Over time, air will slowly leak into the container or freezer bag. This is why it’s important to use an airtight container or freezer bag that’s made for freezer usage. These have been tested and to withstand the extreme cold temperature.
Freezing Fresh Fish from The Grocery Store Or Fish Market
The good thing about fish is that you can freeze them no matter where you got them from. There are several options to freeze fish that includes ice glaze, freezing with water, or vacuum seal the fish.
The best method would be to vacuum seal the fish, but it isn’t always an option available for some people.
Like any other kind of seafood, fish is highly perishable and can go bad quickly if it’s exposed to warm air temperature. Therefore, it’s best to keep them in a container or bag that’s airtight while you’re taking it home.
Once you get home, if vacuum-sealing isn’t an option for you, you can add water to the fish. Once the bag is filled with water, place it into the freezer. With this option, the fish will lose some of its flavors during the freezing process.
How Long Will Fish Frozen In Water Last?
This method isn’t recommended as it will degrade the flavor and texture of the fish once it’s thawed. Vacuum sealing is the best option for fish stored in the freezer.
However, if vacuum-sealing isn’t an option for you, the next best method is freezing fish in the water.
Fish that are frozen in water will last for 4 to 6 months. Lean fish will last for up to 6 months, while fatty fish will last for only 4 months or lesser.
How To Freeze Fish in Water
Below is the process of freezing fish in water:
- Once you have filled the fish, rinse it in salted ice water. They will help prepare the fish for the freezer. The salt will help keep the flavor intact, while the ice helps prevent the flesh from breaking apart.
- In an airtight container or a freezer bag, fill it with tap water.
- Place the fish fillet into the water until it’s completely submerged. Add more water to the bag or container if needed until the fish is fully covered with water.
- Seal the bag or container tight.
- Label it with the date of freezing and place it into the freezer.
The water will protect the frozen fish from freezer burn and the cold air.
Remember, you’ll lose some of the flavors when the fish is thawed.
How Long Does Vacuum-Sealed Frozen Fish Last?
This is the best method of freezing fish since it will stay fresh the longest. If you prepare and freeze a lot of fish, it’s recommended to get a vacuum sealer for the kitchen.
By vacuum sealing the fish, all the air will be sucked out of the bag. Since there is no air to oxidize the fish, it will significantly increase the shelf life of the fish in the freezer.
While other freezing methods will keep fish fresh between 4 to 6 months in the freezer, using a vacuum-sealed packaging method could potentially preserve the fish for 2 years.
When the fish is vacuum-sealed, it will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 years.
Below are the steps to vacuum sealing fish and freezing it:
- Start by cleaning and preparing the fish. You’ll want to use the freshest fish as possible.
- Cut the fish into filets or your preference. If you have minimal spaces in the freezer, cut them into smaller pieces. It’s recommended to pre-freeze the fish first. The process is simple and will keep the fish fresh longer. Wrap the fish in a cling wrapper and place it in the freezer for a couple of hours.
- Once the fish is completely frozen, transfer it to the freezer bags or rolls for your vacuum sealer.
- Vacuum seal the packaging.
- Label the packaging with the freezing date.
- Place it into the freezer.
Vacuum sealing the fish will keep them fresh for up to 2 years.
The reason why you need to pre-freeze the fish first to prevent it from getting damaged when it’s being sealed.
Fish tend to have a lot of moisture in it naturally. When you’ve trying vacuum seal it, the pressure will damage the flesh.
Is It Safe To Eat Fish Frozen for 2 Years?
The recommended storage time for fish in the freezer is 4-6 months. However, if it’s prepared using the vacuum-sealed method, it stays fresh for up to 2 years.
This is possible since the fish isn’t affected by freezer burn. Since there is no air in the bag to oxidize the fish, it actually will last indefinitely.
Therefore, fish that has been frozen for 2 years is safe to eat. You may notice a little bit of flavor loss. Other than that, the fish will have the same texture as when it’s fresh.
How Can You Tell if Frozen Fish is Bad?
Frozen fish will go bad if it’s not stored properly or it’s stored for too long in the freezer. If you notice any signs of discoloration on the fish, it’s best to discard the fish.
Also, another sign is the weight of the fish. If it feels lighter than it should, the fish should be discarded.
Do You Wash Fish Before Freezing It?
Yes, it’s recommended to wash the fish first. Doing so will help remove harmful bacteria from the fish.