Picture this scenario, you have gone to the store or farmer’s market and have bought a whole batch of smoked salmon. You are back home now and you realize that you will not use all the packets you have bought, let alone finish one. What to do? I have found myself in the same fix quite a number of times.
Lucky for you, and me, even though smoked salmon can and does goes bad, it does keep fresh for a period of time. Typically, every packet of store-bought smoked salmon comes with an expiration date printed on the labelling.
Ideally, the smoked salmon should keep well up to that date but will, however, begin to deteriorate in quality past the expiration date. This simply means that when eaten or used, the smoked salmon will generally not be as tasty as a fresh packet of the same.
More specifically, if you are handling an unopened packet of smoked salmon, storing it in the refrigerator will keep it fresh for a period of up to 1 week. When moved to the freezer, the properly vacuum-sealed packet will last for a period of between 2 to 3 months.
As for opened packets of smoked salmon, they will maintain freshness in the refrigerator for a period of between 5 to 7 days and a month in the freezer.
How long does smoked salmon last? The answer to this question greatly depends on the environment in which the packet or container of smoked salmon has been stored and whether it has been opened or not. Unopened packets of smoked salmon usually go for 1 week in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer. Opened packets go 7 days in the fridge and 1 month in the freezer.
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What is the best way to store smoked salmon?
More often than not when you go to the store to purchase a packet or packets of smoked salmon, you will find it kept at the refrigerated section or isle of the store. As such, it is a no brainer that smoked salmon needs refrigeration to keep fresh and maintain top notch quality for longer periods of time.
What this means is that immediately you get back home from the store or farmers market, be sure to promptly transfer the smoked salmon into the refrigerator, especially if you are not keen to use it immediately. Leaving the smoked salmon on your kitchen counter for a few minutes as you prepare the other ingredients is not taboo, just make sure to not leave it out for too long.
It is worth noting that there are some companies that do sell their smoked salmon unrefrigerated. In these cases, if the packaging states that the smoked salmon can be stored at room temperature, then, by all means, you can leave it out. Just ensure to place the smoked salmon in a dark, dry place, preferably in the pantry.
When dealing with smoked salmon leftovers, refrigeration is the best way to go. Just ensure that the container they are in is resealable.
If you do not have one at hand, you can transfer the smoked salmon into a freezer safe Ziplock bag. And yes, smoked salmon can be frozen.
This can be done in its original packaging if it is resealable and unopened. However, if opened, transfer the smoked salmon into freezer safe Ziplock bags and make sure to squeeze out all the excess air before placing them in the refrigerator.
How to choose the best Smoked Salmon when buying
Of course, smoked salmon is a crowd favourite, especially around the holiday time. And if you are hosting the years Christmas party, I know you want to impress. Well, let me help you with the information that will come in handy when you are purchasing the smoked salmon so that you get back home with a fresh batch.
To start off, look at the method of smoking. As we have noted above, we have cold smoked and hot smoked salmon. Now, while hot smoked salmon has a longer shelf life, cold smoked salmon has most if not all of its nutrients preserved.
This means that you stand to get more nutrients from it than from hot smoked salmon. This would also be the best option if you want to use it in a meal soon.
Secondly, check out for the raising of the salmon. Ideally, we have wild caught salmon and farm raised salmon. Due to the fact that they are in their natural habitat and eat all the natural diets that are good for them, wild picked salmon would be the best option to go for. Additionally, they are not only good for you but as a plus are also good for the environment.
Lastly, would be to check on the seasoning of the salmon. As with the previous options, there are two ways of preserving salmon. One is with salt and the other is with both salt and sugar.
The best option to go for here would be the one without sugar so be sure to look out for it in the preservatives.
How to properly thaw frozen smoked salmon
One of the rules in the kitchen when it comes to thawing or defrosting frozen smoked salmon is that you should be extremely careful to use any heat on it at all.
In the stead, you should choose to remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator compartment for a few hours or overnight. Alternatively, you could choose to place it in a properly sealed bag and place it under running water at the sink.
These two methods will defrost your frozen smoked salmon in not time and the cooking process will not be initiated as it thaws or defrosts. It is also a very good idea that after the frozen smoked salmon has thawed or defrosted, you leave it out to get a bit warm, that is up to room temperature.
The reasoning behind this is that when it is cold, the outside of the fish may cook faster when the inside has not even begun to feel the heat of the stove.
Can you get food poisoning from smoked salmon?
The levels of contamination of raw fish, including salmon, are quite low. Contamination can usually occur at any given point along the chain of food production. To begin with, contamination can occur at the food processing stage.
An example of such an instance in the food processing stage is in the machines that are used in the salting, skinning and slicing of fish.
Further to this, listeria has also been found present in smoked fish products. Borrowing from this, we can see that it is generally impossible to produce a whole batch of cold smoked salmon that is completely free from this bacterium called listeria.
The reason for this is because when cold smoking, the salmon is not at all cooked by heat in order to produce the characteristic delicate texture that we love of smoked salmon. In comparison to cold smoking, hot smoking kills off listeria.
The reason is that due to the higher temperatures that are used, the salmon will end up with less moisture present in it.
How to correctly prepare smoked salmon
Think about it, do you even remember a moment in time when the use of salt, sugar and smoke was the most ideal method to preserve food? I know I do not, lol.
Well, in this modern day and age, we tend to smoke food in order to add flavour to it.
The two most common methods of smoking salmon are cold smoking and hot smoking.
As a matter of fact, cold smoking of salmon is considered to be having more risk than the alternative method of hot smoking. When it comes to cold smoking, the fish is technically unpasteurized.
What this then translates to is the need for careful handling of the salmon in order to prevent the creating or bringing about an environment that dangerous and harmful pathogens can thrive in.
I was surprised to find out that cold smoked salmon still technically has a short shelf life. When cold smoked salmon is stored in the refrigerator, it will only last for between a period of a week or two. But when cold smoked salmon is put in the freezer, the shelf life is extended up to a month.
This is due to the presence of Listeria bacteria which can grow even at much lower temperatures.
For the hot smoking alternative, you often want to brine the salmon ahead of time instead of curing. The temperature used while smoking the salmon is up to 107 degrees Celsius or even more.
Hot smoked salmon usually tends to have a longer shelf life.
Therefore, it often does not need to be refrigerated as long as it stays in the original packaging, well-sealed and in a cool, dark area.