I have wondered about this question countless times and I am sure you have done the same.
Smoked salmon is a delicious food and the process helps to kill any bacteria, viruses or parasites that could be lurking in the fish. I use it in everything – from as a topping for my breakfast bagels to as a surprise ingredient in my dinner recipe.
Now that you know my love for smoked salmon, but it gets hard to consume the entire fish in just one sitting or use the whole salmon in a recipe. But if you’re in the supermarket one day and see a sale on a large package of smoked salmon, what should you do? Eating a little and throwing the rest away seemed wasteful to me.
So I decided to look into the ways I can make this food product last as long as possible and the best way I found was – Freeze it!
Preparing The Smoked Salmon For The Freezer
Yes, you can freeze smoked fish – even the smoked salmon. The frozen counterpart of your favorite fish can last for about 3 months in your house refrigerator freezer or about can survive for 6 months in a commercial chest freezer – if maintained at a freezing temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
1. To Cut Or Not To Cut
It does not matter if you have a whole smoked salmon or just smoked fillets – you can either leave the fish whole or you can cut it into pieces while freezing. I find it easier to manage the smaller pieces as they are easier to wrap and store in the freezer.
I would recommend you to cut the salmon into small pieces that are about the for match the serving size you would typically eat within 24 to 48 hours. Plus, once thawed, you will not be able to freeze the salmon again, so smaller fillets are better than the large chunks.
2. Wrap The Salmon
To start preparing your smoked salmon fillets for the freezer, take a sauce brush and lightly brush both sides of the fish with some olive oil. This will help you to seal in the flavors and protect the fillets from freezer burn. The video below explains that the biggest risk to freezing smoked salmon is freezer burn:
Apart from the above method, there are several other routines that you can use to wrap your salmon fish and avoid the problem of freezer burn. One such method is to wrap the salmon tightly in a plastic wrap. Fold in the wrap and secure all of its edges so that there is no air between the wrap and the salmon.
Next, use freezer paper to wrap around the salmon as the paper will provide an additional layer of protection against the freezer burns. Make sure each side of the fish has at least 2 layers of the plastic wrap and 2 layers of the freezer paper.
Hot Tip: If you would like to save yourself a step, consider investing in a top vacuum sealer. The electronic sealer uses a special type of plastic wrap that is heat activated and forms a protective vacuum around the food by squeezing the air out of the package before it is sealed shut. Plus, it also helps to keep your hands clean.
Things to Remember: The most important thing to remember when freezing smoked salmon is that air is its biggest enemy. The smoked salmon is bound to lose some of its texture and flavor if it is not wrapped properly before freezing. Exposure to the air can cause oxidation of the fish which may lead to freezer burns, spoilage and loss of flavor.
3. How To Store: Air-Tight Containers And Labels
Containers such as glass bowls or even plastic boxes are not recommended for storage of smoked salmon. Such containers allow too much air to circulate around the fish which could lead to freezer burn. It is better to stick with the plastic wraps, freezer papers and air-tight containers.
Hot Tip: Label your packages of frozen salmon before putting them into the freezer to keep up with their timeline. These labels can help you note down the contents of each package as well as the date of freezing.
Make sure to use up the frozen salmon within 2-3 months of freezing it.
4. Thaw And Make Your Best Smoked Salmon
When you are ready to enjoy the sweet fruit of your hard labor, remove one of the wrapped salmon packages and allow the fish to thaw in the refrigerator. Depending on the size and thickness of the fillets that you wrapped, the salmon could take up to 24 hours to thaw.
Hot Tip: As I have already stated in point #1, cut your smoked salmon in smaller pieces before freezing. This will also quicken up the thawing process.
One thing you should remember is that it is important to maintain the temperature and keep the smoked salmon cold as it thaws. Plus, you should never use hot water or leave the smoked salmon to thaw at the room temperature. Doing so may lead to germ build-up such as salmonella inside the salmon which may contaminate the fish and lead to health issues, if consumed.
Once you are sure that the salmon is fully thawed, it is ready to gorge on. You may consume it as it is or can show you magic with some special recipe or food preparation.
Things to Remember: Remember that repeated thawing and freezing of the salmon will degrade the fish. Freezing the salmon will turn the water molecules inside it into microscopic daggers that will cut its fibrous muscle strands and repeating the process more than once will leave the meat in a sad state. Whereas repeated thawing will allow the bacteria to grow and contaminate the fish.
Try It Yourself!
Freezing your smoked salmon will allow you to continue enjoying your favorite food and dishes for a long time. Preparing the salmon for freezing is easy and maintainable only if you will follow the above instructions carefully and will keep in mind the special tips.
If you have any questions about freezing the smoked salmon or want an exciting smoked salmon recipe, please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.