Updated: Nov 18, 2022
Storing seafood properly is essential not only for the flavor of the food, but also for your health. Nobody likes food poisoning, and unfortunately for us all, seafood spoils quickly (sad, we know). But learning how to properly store it will make sure you have the tastiest, freshest, and healthiest fish possible! Read on to discover your comprehensive guide on how to properly store your seafood.
Here you will find:
How to Store Fresh Clams and Mussels
How to Store Fresh Oysters
How to Store both Fresh and Frozen Scallops
How to Store both Fresh and Frozen Shrimp
How to Store Live Lobster
How to Store Live Crabs and Crabmeat
How to Store Octopus and Squid
How to Store Fresh Fish
How to Freeze Fresh Fish
HOW TO STORE CLAMS & MUSSELS
With all bivalves, the most important aspect of storing them is keeping them alive. Once you receive your batch, inspect for any dead clams or mussels. So how do you know they’re alive? When alive, all clams and mussels shells should be slightly open and close quickly when you tap on them. If they do not close when tapped, have damaged or broken shells, or were not open in the first place, immediately throw them away (no food poisoning here!). They should also have a fresh, ocean-like smell and not smell fishy.
Once you’ve done your checks, it’s time to properly store them. First off, be sure to never store them in plastic as that will suffocate them. Instead, place them in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or paper towel. Then place that bowl in a bigger bowl of ice (this way the clams/mussels remain chilled, but are not directly touching the ice) and put them in the fridge. Replenish the ice as necessary and be sure to keep them in the fridge until cooking. It is best to consume both clams and mussels on the day of purchase but they can be stored overnight if necessary.
HOW TO STORE OYSTERS
Just like with clams and mussels, before storing, check for any dead oysters. Unlike clams and mussels, if their shells are closed it does not necessarily mean they are dead. If they have their shell closed, tap on the shell. If it sounds hollow, they are dead and should be discarded, if they sound solid though, they are fresh and alive! Just like with clams and mussels, if the shells are open, tap on them and they should shut immediately. If they do not, then they should be discarded.
To store your fresh oysters, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray. Cover them with a damp cloth and then place them in the fridge immediately. They should keep for up to seven days but it is best to eat them within one or two days.
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HOW TO STORE SCALLOPS
Just like the other seafood we’ve mentioned, scallops should ideally be eaten within the same day you buy them. If you need to store them for a day or two though, there are simple ways to do so.
If you buy fresh scallops still in the shell (which can be more difficult to find in North America but are so worth seeking out) you will follow the same rules as storing clams and mussels. Put your scallops in a bowl and then place that bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice. Cover them with a damp cloth and then place in the coldest part of your fridge.
For scallops that have already been shucked, place them in a sealed ziploc bag and place that bag on a bed of ice in the fridge. It’s important to keep them sealed to avoid absorbing moisture and water drippings from the fridge as this will make their nutrients seep out.
HOW TO STORE SHRIMP
Unlike bivalves, we don’t have to worry about keeping shrimp alive (phew!), but storing them properly is still imperative. If buying fresh shrimp, you should store them in the coldest part of your fridge. If the shrimp comes in a plastic bag, it is best to open the top of a bag and lay a damp towel over the top so they can breathe. Another alternative is to take them out of the plastic bag altogether and loosely cover with parchment paper. Whichever method you choose, be sure to place your shrimp in a bed of ice so they can stay cool enough.
If you buy frozen shrimp, you can unthaw them overnight in the fridge or if you are pressed for time, place them in a bowl of cold water.
HOW TO STORE LIVE LOBSTER
Just like the other seafood we’ve discussed, ideally lobster should be eaten the same day it’s purchased. However it can be stored for up to two days with the proper methods.
It is best to keep your lobster in an open container without a lid (a cardboard box is great!) as they need to be able to breathe. It’s important that lobsters are kept moist as well, so cover them with damp newspaper. Be sure to store them in the fridge to keep them at the proper temperature. The ideal temperature for storing lobster is 40 degrees so check your fridge settings beforehand. Pro tip: be sure not to store them in ice or water as fresh water will kill them.
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HOW TO STORE FRESH CRAB
If buying live crab, you’ll follow similar protocols as lobster. It is best to eat it the same day you buy it, but for the brief time you will be storing it, keep it in an open container lined with moist newspaper as they need to be kept cold and damp just like lobsters. Store them in the fridge until you are ready to cook. If using fresh crabmeat, simply keep in the fridge for up to two days.
Learn how to work with crabmeat in our Chowder & Crab Cakes cooking class!
HOW TO STORE OCTOPUS AND SQUID
Octopus and squid can spoil quickly and lasts for 72 hours max in the fridge. It is best to cook both on the day of purchase if possible. To store, it is important to keep in an air-tight container to avoid absorbing smells from the other items in your fridge. Place your octopus or squid in a container with the lid on or on a plate and wrapped with plastic wrap. Store it in the coldest part of your fridge and your octopus and squid will stay fresh and delicious!
You can learn how to properly cook squid in our Visit The Canary Islands class with our chefs video calling you live from Spain.
HOW TO STORE FRESH FISH
Many people think that simply throwing fresh fish in the fridge is enough, and while it won’t kill you to do that, the quality of your fish will quickly degrade and with it, the risk of getting food-bourne illness will rise. Essentially the way to keep your fish as fresh as possible is making sure it stays dry and cold.
The best way to store it is to first rinse the fish or filets, then dry them thoroughly (bacteria thrives in moist environments which is why this step is essential). After this, place the fish in a single layer in a ziploc bag (be sure not to have any fish overlapping!). Once you’ve pressed out all the air, lay the ziploc on top of a tray lined with ice. Then place ice on top of the ziploc as well. Place this at the back of your fridge and replace the ice as it melts. Now you’re prepared to enjoy the tastiest, freshest fish!
HOW TO FREEZE FRESH FISH
When freezing fresh fish, the goal is to freeze it as quickly as possible to retain its flavor. To do this, place your fish on a plastic-wrap lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Place another layer of plastic wrap on top and freeze for about two hours. After that two hours, transfer the fish to a plastic, sealable freezer bag. Be sure to squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can before freezing!
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