Smoked salmon was at one point considered a luxury. Nowadays, while not exactly cheap, its succulent woody flavor can be experienced by the regular middle-class person every once in a while. Who can resist a bite of juicy smoked salmon straight from the fridge? Yes, from the fridge! Since it was already cooked, you don’t even have to home-cook it to enjoy it served in a variety of ways and in a myriad of fresh, cold recipes. Nonetheless, it can also be home-cooked, if you prefer it so.
If you’re here reading this, then I can safely bet that you love salmon. Perhaps you purchased too much of smoked salmon from costco, or you just want to save some for a special occasion or a special date that’s still months away. So you must be thinking of these questions. Can you freeze smoked salmon? How long does smoked salmon last in the fridge?
You definitely can freeze smoked salmon. Not only that, but it also freezes pretty well. Salmon is a cold fish, meaning that its entire constitution is practically made for very low temperatures.
The fact that it’s a cold-water fish doesn’t mean that we can simply toss the salmon naked and forget about it! There’s a thing called freezer burn that can affect basically every single food, and salmon is no exception to this rule.
Smoked salmon mostly comes already packaged in very thin slices or “fillets”, so we need to make sure that they’re properly isolated from each other, lest they might turn into one giant indistinguishable mass of frozen salmon. Therefore, the best suggestion, in this case, is to stockpile the individual slices in an airtight container, separating them with layers of greaseproof paper. That way, you don’t need to thaw the entire container before withdrawing the pieces that are needed on that given day. Next, seal the container in a way that no air is left inside, and store it in the freezer.
You can also try flash-freezing the slices separately, laying them on baking sheets in the freezer for a few hours. After they’ve become sufficiently frozen, proceed to place them in the container, in the manner outlined above.
Freezing will not affect smoked salmon in a significant, noticeable way. It might not retain the exact same taste as before, but it’ll be wholly enjoyable, provided it was stored before going bad. Be aware that it will not last forever in an optimal state, even in the freezer.
Once smoked salmon is defrosted, you shouldn’t freeze it again. Ideally, thawed salmon should be consumed. This is because, by refreezing, you risk damaging its integrity due to the potential formation of ice crystals. However, if you need to refreeze it, just make sure that it was not left sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours or has not exceeded its expiration period.
Smoked salmon can last a lot longer in the fridge than regular raw salmon. This is because all the bacteria it had while raw was killed in the smoking process, which is why it can be eaten safely, even if it’s not home-cooked. With that said, as long as it’s set to 40º F or lower, smoked salmon can endure 1 or 2 weeks in the refrigerator without going to waste.
Smoked fish can last 1-2 months in the freezer without any loss in quality. However, other sources claim that smoked salmon could hold its own for up to 6 months without considerable damage. While frozen, the salmon will not spoil, owing to the low temperatures practically interrupting the bacterial activity that produces spoilage.
To thaw smoked salmon, the best route is the slowest one: The fridge. Just stow the needed portions in the refrigerator and let them rest there overnight, properly covered in aluminum foil or similar. You could also throw the frozen fillets in leak-proof bags and submerge them in cold water, making sure to change the water every 15-30 minutes, until the salmon has been completely thawed.
It’s not advisable to use a microwave, as it will render the salmon soggy. Also, it’s very prone to leave cold spots, exposing your fish to aggressive bacterial activity that may consequently induce foodborne illnesses.
Just don’t thaw at room temperature!
The best method to cook smoked salmon while frozen involves an oven, preheated to 425-450º F. First, it’s recommended to shortly rinse the salmon under cold running water to remove any remaining ice crystals. Then, place the salmon fillets on a baking dish or sheet, coat them slightly with butter or olive oil, and shove the dish or sheet in the oven for a few minutes. The idea is to have the salmon achieve an internal temperature of 165º F evenly and in the shortest timeframe possible.