How To Store Smoked Fish [Best Way]

One of the major ways to preserve your fish is by either cold or hot smoking the fish. How to store your fish must have come to mind when smoking or when you buy a smoked fish. The shelf life of your fish before consumption is important to get the best out of the fish.

You can wrap your smoked fish in foil paper or a sealable plastic bag and store it in a refrigerator before usage. You can also put it inside a freezer instead of a refrigerator in the case where you want it stored away for a longer period. In this way, it will remain intact and fresh when you are using it the next time. 

Some people don’t get to eat their smoked fish immediately after smoking but rather leave it to cool off. They say it tastes better when left for a while before consumption. If you are one of them or you just want to store up your smoked fish, then keep reading this article for tips.

How To Store Smoked Fish

The period at which you want to store your smoked fish is very important. Also, the method used is smoking your fish also has an impact on the shelf life of the fish.  Smoked fish can easily lose its freshness and taste after a while, especially when not so dried up. 

One major threat with smoked fish is botulism caused by bacteria; this can easily occur when your fish is not properly kept before consumption. Find below some highlighted tips on how to store smoked fish. 

1. Store In A Refrigerator 

Wrap your smoked fish in foil paper or a sealable plastic bag and store it in a refrigerator before usage. However, this can only last for a short period, say ten days before consumption. It’s worthy of note that the shelf life of your smoked fish will last longer if the conditions of the refrigerator compartment are suitable for the following:

Temperature: If the fish is hot smoked, the ideal temperature will be within -2 and + 2ºС while 0 to -5ºС is an ideal temperature for cold-smoked fish to last longer

Humidity: Irrespective of the type of fish processing, the humidity should be set at 90%. If the indicator drops below, the fish fibers will quickly dry out and lose their taste. When the humidity in the refrigerator is not favourable, the smoked fish is covered with mold or even unpleasant mucus.

Hot smoked fish should be kept in the refrigerator for not more than three days and under the conditions described above. If the conditions mentioned above cannot be met, leave smoked fish in the refrigerator for about a day or two. On the other hand, cold-smoked fish will last in the refrigerator much longer for about 8 to10 days.

All of the above is highly necessary if you want to retain your smoked fish’s flavour and taste. 

How To Store Smoked Fish

2. Store In A Freezer 

 In the case where you want it stored away for a longer period, you can also put it inside a freezer instead of a refrigerator. In this way, it will remain intact and retain its freshness when you are using it the next time. However, if the smoked fish is much and will be consumed at different times, you should put them in smaller portions before freezing.  

Putting the fish in smaller portions in a zip-lock bag or a vacuum-sealed pack before freezing saves you the stress of defrosting all before use. Below is a suitable way to store your fish in the freezer

  • Put the smoked fish inside a vacuum-sealed pack or a freezable zip-lock bag. 
  • Ensure that the bag is completely sealed with no air in the bag.
  • To protect the integrity of the fish, it is recommended that individual bags be placed inside a container.
  • Put fish container away and above other raw products in the freezer to prevent possible cross-contamination.
  • Set freezer at the lowest temperature possible to protect the freshness and flavour of fish for a long while.

Although it is ok to freeze your smoked fish, it is recommended that you freeze smoked fish that has not been previously opened. Do not store your fish in the freezer for more than two months as the quality of the fish degrades gradually in the freezer.

3. Store In A Smokehouse

Before refrigerators and freezers, you find smokehouses everywhere, but you can hardly find people using smokehouses with the arrival of the two. Nevertheless, smokehouses are great for fish storage as it allows your fish to be smoked and then stored long term in the same place.  Storing smoked fish in a smokehouse is only suitable for smoking and storing hot smoked fish. 

This method has mostly faded out and unused in modern times. 

Cold Smoked Fish And Hot Smoked Fish

The method used in smoking the fish will help inform how long fish can be stored before consumption. Below is a comparative table of cold and hot-smoked fish.

Smoking Methods Cold Hot
Time required for smoking 12 hours or more 2 to 3 hours
Smoking temperature Below 85° F (30° C) 120-220° F (50-104° C)
Amount of Salt needed for smoking A large amount Little for flavour
Method of preserving (killing bacteria) Salting and drying to remove moisture and prevent bacteria High temperature to kill bacteria
Shelf life Long Short
Texture Firm Soft
Taste Good Very Good
Cooking No Yes
Penetration All areas of meat Surface areas only

Cold Smoking

Cold smoking your fish, as the name implies, is done under a low temperature. The smoker’s temperature stays between the ranges of 20-30°C (68-86°F) for about 6-12 hours or more. Cold smoking makes the flesh of the fish lose some of its moisture and makes fish denser without cooking. 

The outer part of the fish remains soft but firm. Cold smoking, however, requires a large amount of salt to remove moisture and prevent bacteria. The shelf life or storage period of a cold-smoked fish is usually longer compared to hot smoked fish. 

However, the storage period of cold-smoked fish also depends on the amount of time used in smoking the fish. 

Hot Smoking 

Hot smoking is the process used majorly for smoking fish. A Hot-smoked fish is fully cooked and can reach temperatures ranging between 50 to 104° C (120-220° F). Due to the high temperatures, hot smoking fish takes only a short time of about 2 to 3 hours to be fully prepared. 

It’s worth knowing that different fish species tolerate heat differently; therefore, the hot smoking process is not the same for all fish. The temperature of your smoker is regulated according to the kind of fish been smoked. Hot-smoked fish are moist and juicy when properly finished leaving it with a very good taste. 

Hot-smoked fish requires a small amount of salt for flavor, while the hot temperature helps get rid of bacteria. In hot smoking, smoke penetrates only the surface area of the fish, and shelf life is relatively short but with a very great taste.

Hot smoking fish is highly recommended as cold smoking can be a bit technical and can get spoilt during processing. Nowadays, fish are generally hot smoked for an excellent taste and freshness. Your fish is cooked with less salt and with shorter smoking times. 

Nevertheless, heavy salting and long periods of cold smoking preserved your fish for a longer period without going bad.

Some Advantages Of Smoking Fish

Aside from the fact that smoking enhances the taste of the fish, it also extends the fish’s shelf life. Other advantages of smoking fish include:

  • Changes the color of fish; smoked fish looks shiny and better.
  • Reduces the growth of bacteria in fish.
  • Extends the storage period of fish.
  • Gives fish a new taste and flavor.

How Do I Extend The Shelf Life Of My Smoked Fish?

Use a vacuum sealer to package your fish before storage. 

With the advent of a vacuum seal machine, you can easily package food products at home. Check the manual for the correct use of the vacuum sealer. With airless space in the bag, smoked fish can be stored for up to two to three months. 

Store your smoked fish in the deep freeze. 

To increase the shelf life of your smoked fish, they are better stored in a deep freezer. Irrespective of the method used in smoking, they last longer under the temperature of at last -30ºС.

Smoke yourself.

Smoking your fish yourself will help you more on how to go about proper storage. When you cold smoke your fish for a longer period, then the shelf life is extended. 

Conclusion

Refrigerating or freezing your smoked fish is a very suitable way of storage. Nevertheless, the method of smoking plays a large role in the shelf life of your smoked fish. It is, however, recommended that smoked fish be consumed after a short while to get the best taste and flavor. 

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