Wild salmon is a very versatile dish. It can be made baked, grilled, smoked, poached, stewed, made into patties, made into salads and whipped into dips and spreads. But salmon is not so versatile when it comes to maintaining its freshness. The best way to ensure freshness is to always eat salmon the day you buy it. But with the right techniques, you can keep salmon for two days or even eight weeks.
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Finding Fresh Salmon
The most important part of keeping salmon as fresh as possible is to buy the freshest salmon possible. Fresh fish will generally be available from June through August, frozen September to May and canned or smoked year round. When selecting fresh salmon, you'll want to look for a fish with bright (almost alive) eyes. The skin will be shiny with tightly adhering scales and a faint ocean aroma. The flesh should be firm and bounce back quickly if touched. If selecting fillets, look for moist, semitransparent flesh.
Storing in the Refrigerator
Salmon will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to two days. When you bring home your salmon, unwrap it, wipe it over with a damp towel, wrap in plastic and store it in the coldest part of your fridge, generally the bottom drawer or the very back. It needs to stay well-chilled, or around 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Storing in the Freezer
Salmon will stay fresh in the freezer for up to eight weeks. Upon bringing the salmon home, unwrap it, rinse it in cold water and pat it dry. Then cut the salmon into desirable portions. The salmon portions can be kept in freezer bags, freezer wrap, foil, or airtight freezer-friendly containers. It is best not to stack the portions until they are frozen. Always make a note of the date they were frozen.
To thaw previously frozen salmon, simply move the portions from the freezer to the refrigerator for an overnight thaw. If time is of the essence, the salmon can be thawed under cool running water. Do not try to re-freeze partially thawed or cooked fish.
Storing After Cooking
If you have any leftover cooked fish, wrap it tightly and keep it in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to two days.