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Best Ways to Store Seafood

Fresh raw fish over ice at stall in a seafood market.


Seafood is a refreshing treat at any time of the year. However, seafood is more perishable than other food items and should be safely handled. Without properly storing and preparing fish, shellfish, or other kinds of seafood, you run the risk of foodborne illnesses. With more than a century of experience in the grocery industry, we are an excellent resource for safe seafood handling and storage information. In this guide, we review all of the best ways to store seafood, so you can enjoy a lean-protein alternative to meat that tastes great and doesn’t disappoint. Keep reading to learn more about adequate seafood storage, so you can save time and money in the long run.

Keep Seafood Cold

The shelf life of seafood depends on the condition of the product when you purchase it. When buying fresh seafood to prepare right away, you must store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Use a home thermometer to make sure that your refrigerator is operating at 40 degrees or lower. Fish can deteriorate or rot rapidly, so it’s important to keep finfish and shellfish on ice. It’s no coincidence that fish markets display their products on crushed ice. Just remember that fish usually swim in water that is colder than the air we breathe. Warm air increases the speed at which fish spoil.

Finfish should be stored in the refrigerator and used within one to two days after purchase. Shellfish should be bought live in their shells and stored in a shallow pan without any water. Cover the shellfish with moistened paper towels and refrigerate. Mussels should be used within two to three days. Oysters should be used within one week. Live lobsters and crabs should be cooked the same day of purchase.

Frozen seafood should be kept frozen until you are ready to cook. We recommend labeling and dating for best quality and results. Frozen fish and shellfish must be thawed properly by storing in the refrigerator overnight or immersing in cold water for a short period of time. You can also use your microwave’s defrost setting until the fish is pliable but be careful not to overheat or you will start the cooking process.

Store Seafood Properly

If you don’t plan on preparing your fish right away, you should freeze it as soon as possible. Remove the fish from the store packaging and rinse it under cold water. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and store it in either freezer bags or a freezer-safe container. Remember to date the fish to reduce the risk of freezer burn. Your freezer should operate at zero degrees or colder. For best results, thaw and prepare the fish within two weeks of freezing.

Generally, you should not freeze fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel. Lean fish can be frozen for up to six months. Wholey’s Market offers one of the largest selections of fresh and frozen seafood online. If you have any questions about the best ways to store seafood, please contact us today for additional information or further assistance.