The key to storing your fresh fish fillets all revolves around temperature and climate control. From the moment you catch the fish, it's essential to place the meat on ice, and I would recommend bleeding the fish before placing it in the cooler. There are a few practical ways to store fish, and how you do so, all depends on when you plan to prepare the fish for consumption. There are short term and long term storage practices, and we will cover them all in this article.
Storing Fish Fillets Over Night
If you plan to eat the fish, you recently caught within a day or so, you will want to follow these recommended practices.
- Prepare a bowl large enough to immerse the fresh fillets in water and ice.
- Add your fillets to the Tupperware or bowl and fill the container with clean cold water until the fillets are entirely submerged. Add six to ten ice cubes or until the surface layer is completely covered.
- I like to pour in a few tablespoons of lemon juice, lemon is an excellent preservative and also helps remove blood from the meat.
- Store in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.
You can't have much better tasting fillets when using this short term storage practice. Just be sure not to leave the fish any longer than 48 hours. Bacteria is the number one spoilage of seafood, and enzymes start to breakdown the flesh resulting in softer and lower quality meat.
How to Store Fish For Long Periods of Time
Air and bacteria are your nemeses if you plan to store your fish for longer than two weeks. It would help if you made sure to remove all air and water from the equation. Some time ago, I was introduced to what I thought was a gimmick at first — the "Food Saver" vacuum sealer. We have all seen the info commercials, and as an outdoorsman, I can be somewhat skeptical of anything on the shopping network.
However, my lovely wife purchased one for me for Christmas one year, and I have never looked back. The Food saver allows you to cut bags to the size of your liking, you then place the fillets in the plastic bag. Place the open end near the suction area and hit the button. After about 30 seconds or so, you have an airtight, sealed pack of fresh fish fillets. You can use the Food Saver for any game for that matter. Ideally, you can keep fish fillets unfaded for up to two months, and I have even consumed fish that was stored for six months, and it was outstanding.
There is a way to store fillets without the Food Saver contraption manually. The easiest method is to wrap your fillets in saran wrap tightly. After wrapping them in saran wrap, do the same with aluminum foil, be sure to squeeze as much air out of the wrappings as possible — place in the freezer. Typically the fillets will stay fresh for about a month or so.
If you store your fish another way, please don't hesitate to comment below and let us know your preferred method. There is no one way to save fish. I have listed my favorite techniques and hope that you find them helpful. Until next time, I will see you on the water.