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Thread: How long will frozen salmon fillets last in my freezer?

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    Member ysr_racer's Avatar
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    Default How long will frozen salmon fillets last in my freezer?

    I've got some vacuumed packed, frozen salmon fillets in my freezer (both fresh and smoked) from last year.

    How long are they good for?
    brad g.
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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    In my freezer they'd be good for about 6 or 8 months...
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    Thumbs up Trim it . . .



    Unless they're obviously and badly freezer-burned (yellowish), they should be perfectly fine. However, after six months or so, when I take a portion out of the freezer for dinner, I take a sharp knife and skim off a 1/16th of an inch or so off the top of the fillet and about an 1/8 inch all around the edges.


    What's inside is as good as the day it was packed.


    Year-old salmon is fine when so trimmed. Any minor freezer-burn is removed with the trimming.

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    My freezer is -10F/-23C. I have eaten fish that are two years old and they were fine. I usually freeze with the meat belly to belly and the skin side out.

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    Member Col. F Rodder's Avatar
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    Question is how much water content are you willing to deal with. I notice after about 8/9 months they start to take on a little but thick pieces will go a year. I like to take my old fish and either smoke or grind up to make burgers. The extra moisture in the flesh, you don't need to use bread crumbs to bind

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    Member c6 batmobile's Avatar
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    Ive had it go about 14 months if well packaged. Like marcus stated trimming a little off helps if it gets freezer burn.
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    If I have some make it to the next fishing season, I put them in a jar, trimmed first as Marcus described.

    I try to eat up my kings within six months, they pale in comparison even fresh frozen so i just enjoy them while they are best. Coho and red seem to make it longer with their lower fat content.

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    If the vac bag is still sealed and the fish has been solid frozen the whole time, then it is still good to eat and will still be good to eat for another year or so still. It's not like anything is growing in the meat at sub-zero temps. Freezer burn is a surface defect that is easily trimmed off. Moisture content is easily managed during cooking.

    Realistically, when fishing season starts each Spring, you should do a freezer dive and pull out everything to check it. Then you can take last year's fish and either cook it, smoke it, or can it. Note that smoking bad fish doesn't fix it. If the fish is actually "too bad" for you to eat yourself, but it was frozen solid the whole time, just can it with nothing added and use it as a dog food supplement. That's a far better "last resort" use than throwing it away.

    And if you find that you have a lot of fish left each Spring, that is a clear sign that you are catching too much to start with and ought to go berry picking instead of taking those last couple fishing trips.
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    Nothing better than good, fresh or properly frozen salmon and nothing worse than the slightest hint of freezer burn. For my money, regardless, after three or four months in the freezer, I trim the fish as noted in my post above. I think freezer burn is the oil in the fish going rancid when in contact with air, and even in the best frozen fish, some air infiltration occurs however minute and some, slight, surface freezer burn occurs.


    Wrapping in plastic wrap before vacuum sealing helps, and extreme cold might entirely solve the problem . . dunno . . my freezer doesn't get that cold.


    In the meantime, I trim . . trim . . trim, and the older the fish the deeper I trim.

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    I could be wrong but i think the amount of water left in the fish when it is sealed or processed directly affects its longevity in the freezer. More water = more trimming or worse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenaibow fan View Post
    I could be wrong but i think the amount of water left in the fish when it is sealed or processed directly affects its longevity in the freezer. More water = more trimming or worse.

    Good question . . don't know either. My wife dries the fillets with paper towels, wraps tightly in plastic wrap, and then vacuum-seals.


    Have had vacuum-sealed, smoked salmon taste a bit freezer-burned too, and there's not much water in that.


    My personal guess is that freezer-burn is a function of temperature (colder the better), air (tighter the better), and age (fresher the better).

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    If you want to keep frozen salmon for more than 4 months or so best advice I can offer is to just gut and behead the fish then freeze them whole. Salmon seem to lose flavor almost immediatly after freezing. They are difficult to freeze long term and keep them tasting good

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    I strongly disagree with the water comments. Freezer burn occurs when the meat "freeze dries" and loses its water content by sublimation through exposure to the air. Shielding the meat from air exposure is the way to prevent it. The thicker the shield, the better. The best shield you can make is by adding water to form an ice "glaze" over the meat prior to vacuum packing. And the very best glaze is made with a saline solution and an extremely cold freezing process, which is how they do it at the canneries.

    Personally, I take well washed and very wet fillets, give them each a single layer saran wrap and lay them in the freezer on a flat tray to allow them to freeze solid. As soon as they are frozen, remove the saran wrap and dip each fillet into ice cold water and place back in the freezer to allow that to freeze (takes less than 5 minutes). Repeat the water dip and freeze process about a half-dozen times to build up a proper glaze. After the final water layer is frozen, feel over the whole thing for sharp spots (including pin bones) and scrape them smooth with the edge of a razor or very sharp knife. Then vacuum pack it. For as long as that layer of water lasts over the outside of the meat, there will be no freezer burn. I've kept fillets up to 2 years by this process with zero freezer burn. However, if a bag breaks and allows air in, the ice will begin to sublimate and eventually you'll have meat exposed to the air. It will then start to freeze dry and then oxidation will set in. The combination of freeze drying with oxidation is known as "freezer burn".
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    As long as they taste good to you, right? Your question reminds me of our first years, when all our frozen salmon seemed to smell and taste different after 6 months or so. It wasn't all freezer burn. Most agree that vacuum packing is great, but beyond that, all we know for sure is if you find anything which works better, stick with it. We take care to bleed and gut our dipnet catch, then cool it right away. We used to clean our fish at a campground with only one cleaning station - well, the good part was that we had time to watch a lot of folks clean their catch. Two guys caught our eye, when they used salt to rub the slime off before fileting the fish. We chatted awhile with them about it, but ever since adding that step, our fish last much longer... and when we have found a chunk from year-before-last hidden in the freezer, I try it just to see, and it just affirms our way of putting up fish. I will say though that friends who smoke then can their fish - enjoy the best flavor for the longest afterwards. That's something I need to learn too. Good luck with your fish.
    Quote Originally Posted by ysr_racer View Post
    I've got some vacuumed packed, frozen salmon fillets in my freezer (both fresh and smoked) from last year.

    How long are they good for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    I will say though that friends who smoke then can their fish - enjoy the best flavor for the longest afterwards. That's something I need to learn too. Good luck with your fish.
    I started light smoke canning this year and I must have put up 50% of my fish that way, love it!

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    How long depends on how well it's packaged and how it was cared for prior to packaging. Saran wrap and butcher paper? A few months. Foodsaver? About the same. A chamber packer with good bags? Years.

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    Thanks guys. They were processed by Ed's in Soldotna so they still look pretty good. I'm grillin' one this weekend, so I'll let you know.
    brad g.
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    I'm sure that I am in the minority but I do not wash my fish. I bleed them, gut them and once filleted (and de-ribbed) I will not "rinse" them with water unless they somehow get into contact with entrails. I wipe the skin side and pat the flesh side dry with paper towel. The fillets are temporarily kept skin to skin in zip lock bags. When transferred to vacuum sealed bags I pat them dry again. Now the go flesh to flesh and are similar sized pieces so as to minimally expose the flesh. I have very little moisture in the bags. I've found a significant difference in taste with flesh that has been soaked/rinsed with water and those that are not.

    The above method will not work for those dip netting or fishing in large quantities when you disgustingly toss ten fillets in a garbage bag. I don't like the slime all over the flesh when it comes to the garbage bag method. This method begs you to clean with water (now you have to) after the slime sloshes around. How you handle your fish after killing and before processing is a huge part of how long they will last in the freezer as well how they taste.

    I try to catch only enough for a years worth of eating. A few years ago I had fish that went to the two year mark. They were still edible with minimal freezer damage. Their flavor wasn't as good a fish around the year mark so I did smoke some of the marginally bagged. A few vacuum seals let loose and they were noticeably different and became supplemental dog food. Never waste a fish!

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    Agreed, water never touches the meat side of any of my fish once filleted. This goes for pike to halibut to salmon. Getting lots of fish at once really ups the challenge of putting it away right, but that starts with making sure your equipment is ready and there is room in your freezer to spread things out. In DLG we'd set nets and get a year's fish in one or two tides.....the unprepared were often unhappy with the taste of their prized fish 6 months later. I would help process with all these folks but just keep a few fish from each run so I could take care of them the way I wished.

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    The "garbage bag" method sounds about right for those who gut and cut at the dipnetting beach. It is far better to leave the fish whole until you can fillet in sanitary conditions. As soon as you expose the meat, you risk contamination. Those guys who cut 'em up on a chunk of plywood at the beach are just ruining the meat. Far better to bleed them on a stringer in the water and leave them in the water until you're done fishing (note the ocean is fridge temp) and then place the whole fish in a cooler full of slush ice for the trip to your processing station. Commercial fishermen transport their fish whole on ice for hours (as long as 10-12hrs) before turning them over to a cannery for processing. They'll be perfectly fine for a 3-hour drive back to Anchorage. And then you can thoroughly wash the outside of the fish to remove the slime prior to making a single cut.

    Also, there is no need to gut salmon. It is far easier to cut the fillets right off the sides and leave the entire abdominal cavity undisturbed all the way up until you cut off the belly.

    The water you use also has a factor. If you're using city water, you are adding a bunch of bleach to your meat. Use filtered well water or buy/make distilled water for anything that will contact the meat and you won't be adding the off flavors of all the city water chemicals.
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