Salmon is one of the best fish products to prepare at home for your family. It is high in protein, full of omega-3 fatty acids, and is delectably scrumptious once cooked the right way. It can be a show-stopper as well once included in your restaurant’s menu.
Due to the fact that a good quality salmon, one that is usually fresh and rich in texture, can be pretty expensive, you’re going to want to know how to store this fantastic piece of meat correctly.
Now, a lot of us can relate to this scenario, right? you come home; you thaw that salmon you’ve wanted to cook for ages. ‘This dinner is going to be one for the books,’ you think to yourself. But alas, something came up.
Whether it’s that emergency call from a patient of yours, maybe it’s a surprise dinner date in a fancy restaurant, or maybe your family doesn’t like to eat salmon for the night, either way, you’re going to be faced with the age-old question, can you refreeze salmon?
You can refreeze salmon but under the right conditions. Salmon is just like any other meat product, is very susceptible to bacterial growth once thawed prior to cooking.
Now, assuming that you have frozen your salmon properly, removed the moisture and then wrapped it in a tight plastic wrap, and then thawed it in the refrigerator (not on the countertop and/or facing direct heat), then you should be fine.
You can refreeze that piece of salmon you’ve always wanted to put in your mouth. This is Scenario 1, the ideal scenario of your salmon cooking journey.
Now, if you have not followed the correct way of freezing your salmon, and you thawed your salmon outside the refrigerator, then it might not be beneficial for you to refreeze it, and you’re better off just cooking the salmon and then saving it for later.
Now, why is salmon preparation this sensitive? Let me explain to you. You see, the process of freezing and/or cooking is to kill any microorganism and prevent bacterial growth within your food. Both freezing and cooking create an intense temperature environment that inhibits the growth of these organisms.
Now, what does improper thawing do? Improper thawing brings down the temperature of your meat, in this case, your salmon, to a temperature that is habitable for microbial growth.
Due to the fact that bacteria, fungi, and other live microorganisms are invisible to the naked eye, like room temperature environments that are moist, it makes the salmon you just thawed the perfect place for them to proliferate.
What happens then if these organisms proliferate on your food and you try to refreeze said salmon? You’re basically just forcing these microorganisms to “sleep” on your food.
Once you thawed the salmon again, you give them more chances of proliferation, thereby increasing your chances of acquiring food poisoning. If you fancy the feeling of fever, nausea, headache, uncontrolled vomiting, and abdominal cramps, then go on and get that salmon back to where it came from.
But if you don’t fancy such sickness, cook that salmon instead, and I’ll teach you how to save it. This is scenario 2, the less ideal scenario of your salmon cooking journey. Happily, you can still turn this mess into a masterpiece with a few simple steps.
For scenario 1, you probably have a lot of follow–up questions with regards to this refreezing process. That’s why this article is made in order to help you make the most out of your beloved piece of salmon.
How to Correctly Refreeze Salmon?
There are different techniques to go about this procedure, and if you’re reading this, you probably have your own tried and tested ways as well. But if you’re just a beginner trying to make the best out of your first salmon dish, this is for you.
First, you must take your refrigerator-thawed salmon and then rinse it again, this time with cold water, in order to maintain its cold temperature. After rinsing the salmon, you’re going to have to take clean paper towels and then pat dry your salmon until it becomes almost dry to the touch.
Removing moisture from the salmon prevents water from releasing the flavors inherent to the meat. It also prevents microbial growth because the surface of the fish is free from moisture, making it a non-friendly place for bacterial proliferation.
Now take out your saran wrap and start wrapping your salmon airtight. There must be no air pockets floating around, and the saran wrap must be close to the salmon’s surface as much as possible.
Now to fully seal the deal, you’re going to need an airtight container and then place your salmon inside the said container. Now all you have to do is take a piece of masking tape, write the date that you refroze this piece of salmon, and then stick it inside the freezer.
This salmon will now be able to withstand 2 to 3 months with no loss of flavor/quality.
What If I Don’t Cook the Salmon within 2 to 3 Months?
Freezing salmon is amazing to preserve a delectable piece of meat, but it’s definitely not the ultimate answer to your preservation needs. Your salmon may not be spoiled after cooking it past the 2 to 3 months of refreezing it, but its flavor and quality have definitely diminished.
The meat is going to lose a little bit of its firmness, the color may not be as bright as the day you bought it, the distinct fresh salmon taste may not be present, and the overall flavor profile may be different from the one you originally expected.
If you are planning to store your salmon for extended periods of time, it is advisable to purchase cooked/smoked salmon rather than fresh/raw salmon because smoked salmon can last up to 6 months in your freezer with no loss of flavor/quality.
Now for scenario 2, you thawed your salmon improperly, and you feel your luck running out. You have to cook the salmon now and then preserve it afterward.
Here are the lessons that you need to know after cooking your salmon dish.
I’ve already cooked my salmon, now what’s the next step?
Now that your salmon is cooked, you must transfer it to an airtight container without the lid closed yet. You must let the steam of the hot, freshly cooked meat dissipate into the air so that there won’t be unnecessary moisture buildup.
Once your dish is already at room temperature, you can now put the lid back on and place your salmon dish inside the refrigerator (not the freezer). If you happen to have no airtight containers lying around, take your favorite bowl, put your dish inside it, let it rest, then cover the bowl with saran wrap once the dish is already cold enough to the touch.
How Long Will My Salmon Dish Last in the Refrigerator?
Sadly, we’re not talking months when it comes to the lifespan of your cooked salmon dish. It will most likely last two days maximum before it spoils or changes the flavor.
If you left the salmon on the countertop with no refrigeration whatsoever, you probably have only 2 hours before it starts attracting unwanted microbial growth, which is what we wanted to prevent in the first place.
How do I Properly Reheat My Salmon?
Salmon is preferably reheated within a real baking oven and not just a microwave oven. Baking ovens allow you to achieve a temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which will aid you in totally eradicating any microorganism that is living within your dish. It ensures the longest life span as well for your salmon.
If you happen to have one of these baking ovens, all you have to do is place your salmon in a heatproof container, one that is metal, of course, and then you’re going to have to set your baking oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stick your salmon inside that oven for 10 to 15 minutes, and once the internal temperature is already at 165 degrees Fahrenheit (safest), or 125 degrees Fahrenheit (retains the most flavor but is not the safest), you’re already done.
The higher heat (165° Fahrenheit) makes the dish safer because it kills more microorganisms than the lower heat setting (125° Fahrenheit).
If you don’t have a baking oven, but you do have a microwave oven, fret not because all hope is not lost. What you should do is set your oven at low power (preferably at 30% power) and then cook your salmon at 20-second intervals up until the point that it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit of internal temperature(safest), or 125 degrees Fahrenheit (retains the most flavor but is not the safest).
How Can I Know If My Salmon Dish is Already Bad?
Spoiled salmon has a very distinct texture and taste compared to freshly cooked salmon. First is the texture.
Fresh salmon, once steamed, smoked, or grilled, is very firm once plated. You place it on a plate, and it doesn’t jiggle like Jell-O when you move it around. Slicing into the freshly cooked salmon is a breeze because the meat is firm and not falling apart.
On the other hand, salmon that turned bad has a very soggy texture, and it’s like eating a wet piece of bread almost. The meat, once reheated, is already deflated, and slicing into it is very easy, too easy, mainly because the meat fibers are already past their prime.
The second is the taste. Fresh salmon tastes refreshing, and it opens up your palate to a set of umami flavors than normal pork nor beef cannot offer. Bad salmon, on the other hand, will be noticeably fishy and slimy once you eat it. Do not eat bad salmon to avoid food poisoning.
If you want to learn more about freezing foods, feel free to visit my guide here.