What should you look for when buying fish? And how do you store it at home?

If you are buying fresh fish - whole or filleted:

  1. Look for bright, clear eyes.  If the eyes are dull, it may still be ok to eat but it will definitely be past its prime.
  2. The skin should be shiny, metallic and clean.  Don't waste your money if the skin is dull or has discoloured patches.
  3. Smell it if you can.  Fresh fish, whole or filleted, should have a clean sea breeze smell.  If it doesn't smell nice don't buy it, cooking won't help.
  4. The gills should be a rich red colour.  If the colour of the gills has faded to that of old bricks, don't buy.
  5. The flesh should be bright and uniform, never yellow around the edges.  It should be firm to the touch. 
  6. If it still has skin on it, what we said about the whole fish applies to the filleted one - the skin should have a shiny, metallic look to it.
  7. Any liquid on the filleted fish should be clear, not milky. 
  8. Smoked fish should look glossy and have a lovely fresh aroma.
  9. Shellfish should have tightly closed shells.  Don't buy them if there are cracks or gaps in the shells.
  10. If possible buy lobster and crabs that are either still alive or are frozen.  The live ones should feel heavy for their size.

If you can't get really fresh, fresh fish, buy frozen.  Things to look for when buying frozen fish -

  1. the package should be undamaged,
  2. the fish should not look chalky, this is a sign of freezer burn,
  3. the flesh of the fish should never be partially thawed,
  4. the fish should not be covered with ice crystals, which would indicate that it had been thawed and refrozen.

When you get it home:

  1. for the freshest flavour, eat it the same day.  It's best to use fresh fish within 1-2 days,
  2. put the fish, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then in a plastic bag, in the coldest part of the fridge,
  3. to freeze raw fish, prevent air getting to it by vacuum sealing, glazing it or wrapping it very tightly.  To glaze the fish, dip it in cold water, put it on a baking pan, let freeze. Dip and freeze several times more, until the fish has about ¼ inch thick ice glaze on it.  Put it into a plastic bag (we recommend putting the fish into one plastic bag which is then put into another plastic bag and both are tightly sealed).
  4. Cooked fish can be refrigerated for 3-4 days and frozen for one month.  Be sure you use storage methods that won't let any juices drip onto other foods in the fridge and adequate wrapping for putting it in the freezer.

How long can you keep fish frozen?

    • Some fish like herring, mackerel and sardines should never be frozen.  You could put a water glaze on them but the quality will not be what it should be when you come to use them.
    • Salmon or trout, which are fatty fish should not be left in the freezer for more than 3 months.
    • In general no fish should be in the freezer for longer than 3-4 months.  Thaw fish in the fridge for a day before using


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