Not every angler eats their fish right after they’ve caught it. Sometimes the best treat is when you can enjoy your catch months after it is caught. But in order to do this, you need to know the proper methods for storing fresh fish in a way that’s safe and preserves the flavor. Here’s some of our best advice on how to refrigerate fish and how to freeze fish for dinner later in the week or even later in the year.
How to Refrigerate Fresh Fish
Icing your fish should start as soon as you’ve caught it. You should always bring a high-quality insulated cooler with you when you go fishing. Make sure that the drain plug is open so the water will run out as the ice melts. It’s important that water doesn’t come into contact with your fish itself because water can ruin the flavor of even the most delicious fish.
If you’re going to refrigerate your fish, you need to wash it first. Fresh fish can last up to one day without being cleaned as long as it’s iced or chilled. Cleaning the fish will help preserve the flavor. Use cold water to rinse then dry using paper towels or clean rags.
Next, you’ll need to wrap the fish. Parchment paper, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap will all do the trick. Use whatever you have on hand.
Now your fish is ready to go in the fridge! It’s important that you keep your fish on ice, even in the fridge, to preserve it as long as possible. If you follow all these steps, your fish should last in the fridge for up to two days. Larger fish (and even pieces of fish) tend to last longer than small ones, and lean fish tend to last longer than fatty fish.
How to Freeze Fresh Fish
If you’re interested in storing fresh fish for a long time, freezing is the way to go. If done properly, you can get at least three months of use out of the fish, or even up to a year! But to make it last this long, you need to carefully follow these instructions.
Fish should only go in the freezer after it’s been properly cleaned. Ideally, you should put your clean fish in a plastic bag that’s safe for freezer use. It’s important that you remove as much air as possible out of the bag before you put it in the freezer. Air could ruin your fish’s flavor.
If you often find yourself freezing your fish, you might consider buying an airtight package sealer. This is the most effective way to remove all the air from your freezer bags and, in turn, preserve the delicious flavor of your fish.
Finally, when it’s time to enjoy your catch of days past, move your fish from the freezer to refrigerator the night before you want to eat it to thaw. You can also place your fish in cold water as long as it’s still wrapped. Never microwave your fish!