Angling for that fresh salmon? Preserve it quick and fast by freezing!
The easiest and fastest way to preserve fish is to freeze it.
The snow has melted and the ice has disappeared from the streams. The springtime anglers are getting their tackle ready for fresh trout and salmon season that is about to open. When catching fish and preserving it for later, it is important to keep the fish alive as long as possible.
This is because of all of the types of meats, fish is the most susceptible to spoilage, rancidity and foodborne illness. The delicate flesh of the fish starts to deteriorate as soon as the fish leaves the water. The spoilage and slime producing bacteria are present on the skin of the fish. Once the fish is caught and is out of the water these bacteria start reproducing at a rapid rate unless the fish is properly cared for.
In order to delay spoilage, as soon as a fish is caught it should be gutted and the body cavity should be rinsed thoroughly. Next, the fish should be chilled and iced down.
There are four popular methods for preserving fish. They are freezing, canning, smoking and pickling. The easiest way to preserve the fish is to freeze it.
To properly freeze fish, start with high quality fish, as freezing will not improve the quality. In order to achieve the high quality freshness and taste, there are three factors to remember. First, carefully handle the fish after it is caught. Secondly, the material or method of freezing needs to be airtight to prevent the development of off-flavors and undesirable freezer burn. Third, the freezer temperature needs to be below 0 degree.
There are two techniques for freezing fish. The first one is gutting and thoroughly cleaning the fish as soon as it is caught. Prepare the fish as it would be ready for eating. Large fish need to be cut into steaks or fillets. Small fish could be frozen whole. Wrap the fish in two layers of freezer bag materials. By putting two layers of material between each fish fillet to make separation and thawing easier. The fish needs to be stored in a freezer that is at 0 degree or below. When getting ready to thaw, the fish should be thawed in the refrigerator.
The second way to freeze fish (particularly small fish) is to freeze them whole. Freezing fish whole in ice is particularly good for pan fish, sunfish and relatively small portions of fish in general. Place the cleaned, gutted fish in an air-tight container; cover the fish with ice water. Put the fish in the freezer for eight to 12 hours until frozen. Once frozen, the block of ice with the fish can be removed, wrapped and placed in the freezer for storage.
Storage guidelines on maintaining the quality of fish at 0 degree Fahrenheit are as follows:
Four to six months: Northern pike, smelt, trout, lake herring, whitefish and carp
Five to eight months: Chinook salmon, coho salmon and white bass
Eight to 12 months: Bass, blue gill, crappie, sunfish, walleye and yellow perch
Caution: When eating raw or undercooked species of fish from the Great Lakes, there is the possibility of contracting broad fish tapeworm infection. Fish that are susceptible to the broad fish tapeworm include yellow perch, northern pike, sand pike and walleye pike. Proper cooking and freezing will destroy the infective worms.
When getting ready for the trout and salmon season, remember to plan on preserving that fantastic catch safely.
For more on fish preservation read Angling for that fresh salmon? Preserve by canning!