Selecting & Storing Seafood
Selecting seafood isn’t difficult. When purchasing, our foodies recommend you look for these qualities:
- A mild scent — not “fishy”
- Moist, firm flesh that springs back when pressed — no traces of browning or drying around the edges
- Airtight, frost-free packaging — no air between seafood and wrapping material, and no liquid or sign of frost or ice inside the package
Seafood is often very perishable, so it is helpful to have an idea about the quantity you will need when serving. If you feel you have bought too much, we recommend you freeze uncooked excess immediately. There’s no question that the proper storage of seafood is critical to maintaining its flavor and nutritive integrity. Following are some tried-and-true measures to keep seafood tasting fresh off the line.
• Clean whole fish (inside and out) before storing. Drain on a perforated baking sheet over a stainless steel pan to catch drippings.
• Store in the coldest part of the cooler or refrigerator — 32–35ºF.
• If storing in ice, cover the fish with a fresh towel first.
• Prepare within one to two days.
• Keep in original wrapper for up to six months at 0–29ºF.
• Use immediately after thawing.
• Store at a steady temperature of 0–29ºF for three months to over a year depending on the species, packaging and handling.
• Don’t leave at room temperature for too long between delivery and storage.
• Rotate your frozen seafood, using it on a first-in, first-out basis.
• Always thaw seafood in refrigerator according to instructions on package.
• Never thaw breaded products prior to cooking.
• For food safety, don’t thaw and refreeze (this may also negatively affect the taste and texture of seafood).
• Place in a covered container. Store in refrigerator no longer than three days, and in the freezer, three to six months maximum.
Live and Fresh Shellfish
• Refrigerate at 32–40ºF in a ventilated container covered with a clean, damp cloth to provide moisture.
• If live, don’t seal in a plastic bag or keep in fresh water: They will suffocate or drown.
• Pack raw or fresh shell-on shrimp in flaked or crushed ice.
• Discard any shellfish that have died.
• Store fresh shellfish no longer than one to two days.
• Keep live lobsters in tanks at a 34–36ºF filtered water temperature.
Pasteurized Seafood (such as canned crabmeat)
• Follow date on can. Once opened, keep only three to five days.