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Thread: Smoked Salmon Shelf Life??

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    Default Smoked Salmon Shelf Life??

    My husband and I got our first Big Chief a couple weeks ago. We've eaten a lot of smoked fish and are now looking at ways to store it. We have a food saver, which we are using, but we were wondering how long smoked fish lasts, unopened, in the freezer? Someone has mentioned to us that if it is vacuum-sealed, we can keep it in a pantry for 3-4 months. I'm not quite sure about that one...

    Thoughts/suggestions anyone?
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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teach-ak View Post
    My husband and I got our first Big Chief a couple weeks ago. We've eaten a lot of smoked fish and are now looking at ways to store it. We have a food saver, which we are using, but we were wondering how long smoked fish lasts, unopened, in the freezer? Someone has mentioned to us that if it is vacuum-sealed, we can keep it in a pantry for 3-4 months. I'm not quite sure about that one...

    Thoughts/suggestions anyone?
    My limited experience I found that smoked salmon vacuum packed and stored in the freezer begins to loose flavor after 2 yrs. Canned smoked salmon should be an indefinite shelf life. Of course that's my Wild guess. Back in the 70's & 80's we used to smoke and can a lot of salmon, but it never lasted through the whole winter with 2 hungry teenage males in the house.

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    Default freeze, and ixnay on the frostfree

    I would definitely not store it without refrigeration for more than a week and that would be while afield; at home it lives in the fridge.

    You can portion it out after smoking, then vacuum pack it well and freeze it. I've had some stay good for 3 years in a deep freeze (but I wouldn't do that on purpose; too risky); haven't tried longer than that.

    Remember when deep freezing never use your frostfree freezer. Only a non-frostfree freezer can keep fish its best, especially raw fillets.

    Probably the most assured way of keeping smoked salmon over time is to can it after smoking. Eating that is one of my favorite ways to eat salmon though, so I'm a bit biased.

    I see you're new to the forums, welcome. If you're also new to smoking and storing salmon then you should know its not uncommon for people to can all the smoked & vacuumed salmon they can spare from their freezer each spring, since that will extend its shelf life and also clear the way for more new fish to be added to your freezer if needed.

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    I've not heard that non-frost free versus frost free is best for fish, thanks. What if you don't have anything but a frost free freezer? Is it the same for game?
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    Default 2nd rant against frostfree freezers

    Quote Originally Posted by Tearbear View Post
    I've not heard non-frost free versus frost free is best for fish, thanks. What if you don't have anything but a frost free freezer? Does this go the same for game?
    Absolutely, yes. But salmon is far more sensitive to temp changes than red meat.

    Frostfree freezers acquire their frostfree feature by HEATING the freezer compartment periodically. While no frost is a wonderful feature to have and doesn't hurt most short shelf lives, it is hell on keeping frozen fish tasty and good for long.

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    Sounds good! I've actually been on the forum for a while but finally sucked it up and got my own account instead of using my husbands.
    FamilyMan- you mentioned canning smoked salmon? How does that work? I'm intrigued
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    Default extension courses in canning

    teach-ak, go look up (online and/or in person) UAA extension (or is it UAF?). They are the #1 local resource for canning fish (or anything else). They'll give you free advice, recipes, and even test your canner for safety.

    There are some very real health concerns with canning. Done right its no issue, but self-learning its important to do things correct so far as maintaining your desired pressure for a specific time duration and violating this can get people sick. Pay attention to those details and its no danger.

    If you can't find UAA extension online post it up or PM me and I'll look up their web address for their instructions and recipes.

    That Big Chief should serve you well. Its an entry level smoker but does fine job; its probable only issue is that it might not be powerful enough to use in the winter, unless you still have your cardboard box it came in; if you do, you can slide the box onto the smoker while its in operation and that will probably get warm enough (during winter).

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    Default (or is it UAF?) ; )

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    Default your brine/cure affects shelf life too

    Thanks i. There ya go teach-ak; that's the right info exactly. Believe these UAF guys 150% as regards to time/temp/pressure issues to make your product safe. Believe posters to this forum as regards to the best ingredients to use for salmon; many here have fine recipes and will share.

    I'll kick off that discussion just a bit. Adding a small amount of extra virgin olive oil to each jar improves it. Fresh jalapeno and fresh onions (each minced) are wonderful. The UAF documents mention a dozen or more ingredients you might add (not all at once).

    After canning you're looking for each lid to "pop" as it cools. Watch for the one that doesn't, because he needs to go either directly in your fridge or tummy. If they all pop then you're a fine canner and your reward is that you get to pop the lid on any one of them to taste test it. I make notes as to my ingredients and the grade that each get from members of my family.

    Another variable in shelf life is what you brine/cure with before smoking. My main recipe is a simple salt cure which ends up with a salty product; I suspect it has a longer shelf life than using a brine with a delicate flavor.

    You can get your pressure cooker (canner) from about anywhere. If you go used though you probably want to have UAF safety test it before you use; I believe they do so for free.

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    I'll second the comment about frost-free freezers- they don't get frost because they warm up to melt it: not good for long term cold storage. Another trick, that I've yet to implement, is a staging freezer- so you don't introduce heat when putting new game into the freezer.

    The grand plan is to buy a small second freezer as the staging freezer during the appropriate times. And since we have this small second freezer I might as well buy a Johnson Controls temp controller and make it into a kegerator also. I plan to inform my wife about the kegerator option after purchase

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    We brine and smoke our fillets, then -slightly- freeze the fish on a oiled cookie sheet(s), after which we wrap them tightly in industrial-quality (restaurant quality) plastic food wrap Making sure to get as much air out of the wrapped fish as possible, then vacuum seal and freeze (the reason for slightly freezing and wrapping before sealing is to limit the amount of fish oil being sucked out of the packages by the sealer, which can damage the compressor). We keep our freezers set at about -15 to -20 F. JOAT posted a link re. a statement by the gov. (FDA?) in a similar thread, and the source claimed that smoked fish lasts less time in the freezer than fresh frozen fish, presumably due to breaking down faster once the salt and such takes effect in the smoking process. I'm not sure about that though, as I smoked 140 fillets last year, and we ate the last one from the freezer about 2 weeks before replenishing the freezers with this year's dip-net fish. The fish was excellent, even that long after freezing (nearly a year). As far as frost-free freezers are concerned, my meat-cutter/friend will tell you that the way a frost-free freezer stays frost free is to regulate humidity. The drying process leaves any unsealed (or packages with a breeched seal) more susceptible to freezer burn and other forms of freezer spoilage. I have five freezers here, not counting the one atop the refrigerator, and you couldn't pay me to have a frost-free freezer. And now I need to go light the smoker wood stove outside the walk-in smoker, prepping it to smoke the 35 sockeye fillets and ~100 sockeye bellies that have been 'glazing' since being racked last night at about 9:00 P.M. ;^>) (*Again, I apologize for the lack of paragraphs; the boards here apparently won't permit my computer to use the return button to parse paragraphs for some reason.. And again, this is the only site I visit that prohibits me from using paragraphs in my posts.. Hmmm???)

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