Salmon is one of the most popular fish to eat. It is also one of the healthiest, packed with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Whether you catch your salmon or buy it from the store, you will want to know how long it will last in the fridge or freezer and the best way to store it.
Typically, raw salmon can last in the fridge for 1-2 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Preservatives will help to keep your salmon fresher for much longer, so you should always check the label if you have purchased your salmon from a store.
Whether you keep raw salmon in the refrigerator or the freezer, there are several ways to help keep it fresher for longer, which we will look at throughout this post.
How Long Does Raw Salmon Last In The Fridge
The best place to store a fresh piece of raw salmon is in the fridge, as frozen salmon that has thawed never tastes as fresh and flavorful as refrigerated salmon.
Fresh, raw salmon can last in the fridge for 1-2 days, so long as the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If your fridge temperature needs to be higher, you can put some ice cubes into a water container to store your salmon.
There are a few other things to consider if you want your salmon to stay fresh for the longest time possible.
1. The freshness of the salmon before refrigerating. Freshly caught salmon that has been cleaned, gutted, and chilled within a short time span will last slightly longer than store-bought salmon, as it has not been exposed to the same level of processing.
2. Your chosen storage option. How you store the salmon will impact its freshness over time. Salmon tightly wrapped in plastic or vacuum-packed will stay fresh for longer as it keeps the air away.
3. Has the salmon been treated? Smoking and curing help to preserve the freshness of all types of meat and fish. Raw salmon that has been smoked or cured will last longer than untreated salmon. I have mentioned previously that packaged salmon may have already been treated, which can help it to stay fresh in a fridge for several weeks.
NOTE: If you have purchased some packaged salmon, the use-by date is only applicable until it has been opened. Once the air has been allowed to enter the packaging, you should keep it refrigerated and consume it within 2 days.
How Long Does Raw Salmon Last In The Freezer
Raw salmon can last in the freezer for up to 6 months if it’s fresh because the freezing process helps to preserve the fish and prevent bacteria from growing.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when storing salmon in the freezer, which may help extend its freshness.
1. You should wrap the salmon tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. This will help to prevent freezer burn, which can cause the salmon to become dry and tough.
2. You should only thaw the salmon when ready to cook it. Once thawed, salmon will only last for 1-2 days in the fridge.
Can You Treat Salmon For Longer Freshness
One of the best ways to extend the shelf life of your salmon is to treat it. Two of the most popular methods of treatment are smoking and curing. Both methods allow your salmon to be stored in your fridge for up to 2 weeks, but it will have little effect on freezer storage times.
Smoking salmon is a process whereby the salmon is exposed to smoke from burning wood which gives the salmon a distinctive flavor and helps preserve it.
Curing salmon involves covering the salmon in a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices, which acts as a preservative. Gravlax is a form of curing where salmon is buried in a dry marinade of salt, sugar, and dill. After a few days, the action of osmosis dries the salmon and helps preserve it.
If you plan on treating your salmon, make sure to do so within a day or two of catching it or purchasing it from the store, which will ensure that the fish is still fresh and of good quality.
Does Cooked Salmon Last Longer In The Fridge
If you have a delicious piece of salmon and want to keep it edible for even longer without freezing it, there is another option.
Cooking salmon will allow you to store it in the fridge for an extra 3-5 days, as cooking will remove any bacteria that will cause the salmon to spoil.
Preserved salmon can last for around 2 weeks in the fridge, so cooking It after 2 weeks will extend its shelf life to nearly 3 weeks.
When cooking salmon for longer storage, it is essential to allow it to cool before refrigerating. Putting hot food in a fridge will raise the overall temperature, allowing bacteria to grow on other stored food items.
Cooked salmon should be cooled to 70°F within two hours, then placed in the fridge, where it should be chilled to 41°F or lower within four hours to prevent bacterial growth.
How To Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad
Food poisoning from spoiled salmon can be very unpleasant and even life-threatening to those most vulnerable. Many dangerous strains of bacteria can grow on raw or cooked salmon, such as listeria, salmonella, and E. coli.
Bacteria grow on fresh and cooked fish after only 2 hours at room temperature. Cooked salmon left out of the fridge for longer than 2 hours should be discarded, however, fresh, raw salmon can be cooked to kill bacteria.
It is easy to tell when salmon has started to spoil as it will have a sour or pungent smell, be slimy or sticky when touched, and the flesh will have changed color.
If you are unsure whether your salmon has gone bad, you should always err on the side of caution and throw it away.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Salmon
If you eat salmon that has gone bad, you are at risk of food poisoning. Dependent on severity, symptoms can be slight, such as nausea and diarrhea, or they can be more pronounced with the addition of continuous vomiting and painful stomach cramps.
In severe cases that can last for a week or longer, food poisoning can lead to dehydration, seizures, organ failure, and even death, especially in young children or the elderly.
If you experience symptoms of food poisoning after eating salmon, it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible. In severe cases, you may require hospitalization.
Throughout this article, I have covered how long raw salmon can last in the fridge or freezer in various scenarios. One of the most important factors is how fresh the salmon is when storing it and how well you wrap it before storage.
Most fish and meats will begin to spoil when exposed to air, so one of the best ways to prolong their shelf life is to wrap them thoroughly in several layers of film and foil or to vacuum seal them. Airtight containers will help but are less effective than wrapping the salmon tightly.
Although I have stated that raw salmon can keep in the fridge for 2 days and up to 2 weeks if treated, these are general guidelines. If in doubt, don’t risk it!
As with any food, it is always best to use your judgment and throw away salmon that smells or looks off.