When you purchase fresh seafood, be sure to eat or freeze it within three days of purchase.
Fish should be frozen on a flat surface to maintain its shape and texture. This is easy to do by placing a sheet pan in your freezer and laying packaged seafood flat on the pan. Once the seafood is frozen, you can remove the sheet pan.
Seafood should be frozen as quickly as possible once it goes into the freezer. Make sure your freezer is set to 0 degrees, and try not to open the door for about a day after you put fresh seafood in.
TECHNIQUES TO REMOVE AIR
The most important objective when freezing is to remove the air from the package. Air causes freezer burn and shortens the shelf life of the product. There are a number of techniques to remove air from the package.
Nothing is better at removing air than a vacuum sealer. If you plan to freeze on a regular basis, we recommend you invest $80-$100 for a quality vacuum sealer.
You can vacuum seal bags using just a bowl of water, also known as a ‘redneck vacuum seal.’
- Fill a bowl with ice water.
- Pack your seafood in a freezer bag and submerge it in the ice water, leaving the bag unzipped, until only half an inch of the bag is out of the water.
- Zip up the bag. The cold water displaces the air and removes it from the bag.
- Write the name of the fish or shellfish species and an “eat by” date three months from today on your bag. Place in the freezer.
Using plastic wrap instead of a bag or container makes it easy to squeeze the air out of the package.
- Lay a 2 foot long sheet of plastic wrap on your kitchen counter.
- Remove your fillet from our package and place it on one end of the plastic wrap.
- Fold it over tightly, squeezing out as much air as you can.
- Repeat this folding and squeezing process until you get to the other end.
- Place the wrapped fish in a ziploc bag, squeezing out as much air as you can.
- Fish like this should keep for three months. Write the name of the fish and the “eat by” date on the bag. Place in the freezer.
Freezing your seafood in water ensures that you remove all the air. This is a common method for freezing shrimp on the North Carolina coast. It’s important to note that water can impart flavors on seafood, so you may change the taste of the seafood using this method.
- Place your seafood in a freezer-safe plastic container.
- Add enough water to cover the seafood completely, but leave enough room at the top for the water to expand.
- Write the species and an “eat by” date three months from today on the container.
We recommend you eat frozen seafood within three months.
Seafood should be thawed as quickly as possible, but never in hot water or at room temperature. This can create uneven thawing, cause changes in texture and quality, loss of flavor and moisture, and break down the proteins in the meat.
You can thaw seafood in the refrigerator by placing the package on a plate in the fridge for a few hours. You can also use a technique called “slacking.” Place the package of seafood in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes or until thaw.
A great way to thaw frozen shrimp is placing it in a colander under cold running water for several minutes. Be sure the shrimp does not go above 41 degrees Fahrenheit until you are ready to cook.
If you’re looking for more informaiton, this Bon Appetit article is a great resource for thawing tips.