Smoked salmon is a delicacy that you should never let go to waste. However, the shelf life of smoked salmon is not very long in the fridge.
So, what should you do if you have leftover smoked salmon but aren’t planning to use it within the next few days?
Can you freeze smoked salmon? Yes, you can freeze smoked salmon. Smoked salmon freezes quite well if you store it tightly wrapped in cling wrap or in an airtight freezer bag or container. The shelf life of smoked salmon stored in the freezer is 3-4 months.
This article is a comprehensive guide to freezing smoked salmon.
You will learn how to freeze and defrost smoked salmon and get answers to the most common questions regarding freezing various smoked salmon dishes, including salmon pate, mousse, and terrine.
Does Smoked Salmon Freeze Well?
Sometimes you’ll find smoked salmon at your local supermarket. But how much smoked salmon can even be eaten in a single day?
And skipping the chance to stock up on this delicacy isn’t something you want to miss either. What should you do?
Luckily, smoked salmon freezes quite well. Provided proper freezing and defrosting techniques, smoked salmon won’t suffer major texture and flavor changes.
3 Rules to Follow When Freezing Smoked Salmon
Smoked salmon freezes well so long as you know what you should and shouldn’t do when freezing smoked fish. Here are the three main rules you should follow for the best results.
1. Keep It Airtight
The key to freezing smoked salmon so that it doesn’t change its texture and flavor is to put it in an airtight bag.
A vacuum sealer works perfectly for freezing smoked salmon; however, if you don’t have one, use a zip-top freezer bag and push out as much excess air out of the bag as possible.
If you don’t have a plastic bag, put the fish in an airtight container.
2. Check the Expiration Date Before Freezing
You should always freeze smoked salmon while it is still fresh. We don’t recommend freezing salmon that is about to go bad. Freezing salmon that is about to go bad won’t save the fish.
Instead, you will fill up your freezer with something that will most likely be unsuitable for consumption when thawed.
The sooner you freeze smoked salmon the better. Smoked salmon usually has a shelf life of 2 weeks. Freezing smoked salmon when it’s in the first week of freshness is a good way to extend its shelf life.
Whenever there are only a few days left for your smoked salmon, it is better to think of a way to use it while it is still good rather than freeze it.
3. Freeze the Salmon Without Accompanying Ingredients
It is best to freeze salmon without any accompanying ingredients. Many people like to eat smoked salmon with creams.
However, freezing salmon with cream ingredients is not the best idea as cream tends to separate after you freeze and thaw it.
We don’t recommend freezing smoked salmon with vegetables either. While salmon takes freezing well, vegetables such as peas, celery, and onion will lose their crunch once you defrost them.
When defrosting, the water released from the veggies will affect the flavor and texture of the fish.
As for smoked salmon with herbs, you can freeze it successfully as herbs hold up quite well in the freezer.
With this said, if you have the opportunity to add the herbs to the fish after defrosting it, do it, as fresh herbs will certainly make the salmon look and taste better.
How to Freeze Smoked Salmon
If you have decided to freeze smoked salmon to preserve the beautiful fillet for later use, take your time to prepare the fish for freezing. Here are step-by-step instructions for freezing smoked salmon.
- Prepare a container or an airtight bag. We recommend using airtight freezer bags as you can squeeze out the excess air helping the fish maintain its freshness. However, if you do decide to use a container, make sure to pick one that isn’t too big for the piece of fish you are freezing. This way you will minimize the contact of fish with air.
- Portion the fish. If you have a large piece of smoked salmon, we recommend dividing it into portions before freezing.
- Seal the container. If the lid of your container isn’t 100% airtight, wrap the smoked salmon fillet with cling wrap and only then put it in the container. The same goes for zip-top bags that don’t provide a secure closure.
- Label with the date. Label the container or bag with smoked salmon with the date. The last thing you want is to go to thaw the fish for dinner without remembering how long it has been sitting in the freezer.
If you have an unopened packet of smoked salmon, freeze it in its original packaging if it is undamaged. You can wrap the packet with cling wrap as an extra layer of protection.
Can You Freeze Smoked Salmon After Opening?
If you have an opened packet of smoked salmon in the fridge that is still good for consumption, you can go ahead and freeze it.
Don’t freeze smoked salmon in its original packaging if it has already been opened. Transfer the fish into a freezer bag and freeze it following the instructions above.
Can You Refreeze Smoked Salmon?
As with most products, refreezing is not something we recommend you do with smoked salmon.
As you can’t refreeze smoked salmon, freezing it in smaller batches is important.
Otherwise, if you defrost the entire smoked salmon packet and don’t manage to eat all of it within a couple of days, you will have to discard the leftovers.
Can You Freeze Smoked Salmon Slices?
Yes, you can freeze smoked salmon slices. Freeze them following the general rules for freezing a whole smoked salmon piece.
If you have a large piece of smoked salmon, we recommend slicing it and freezing it in portions. Sliced smoked salmon also takes less time to defrost.
How Long Can You Freeze Smoked Salmon?
For best flavor and texture, keep smoked salmon in the freezer for 3-4 months. While the fish may remain safe for consumption past that time too, the smokiness of salmon will gradually degrade as the fish sits in the freezer.
When stored in the fridge, smoked salmon lasts 2 weeks if unopened and only 1 week once opened. Because of this, freezing smoked salmon is certainly a good idea for long-term storage.
Considering that you can eat smoked salmon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there are no chances for smoked salmon stored in the freezer to go to waste.
How to Defrost Smoked Salmon
There are two methods to defrost smoked salmon. Choose what works for you depending on how much time you have to defrost the fish.
If you have time, defrost the salmon in the fridge. If you need to accelerate the process, use cold water.
Even if you are in a hurry, never defrost the frozen fish at room temperature. Defrosting fish at room temperature will cause bacterial growth. Exposing the fish to drastic temperature changes will also heavily affect its texture and flavor.
Here’s how to safely defrost smoked salmon.
Defrosting in the Fridge
The best way to defrost smoked salmon is gradually in the fridge.
If you are planning to serve smoked salmon for dinner the next day, transfer the salmon from the freezer into the fridge 20-24 hours in advance.
The best way to reheat smoked salmon is in the oven with a dash of olive oil. You can reheat smoked salmon in the microwave too if you want to save time.
Defrosting in Cold Water
If you don’t have 24 hours to wait for the salmon to thaw, you can accelerate the process by using the cold water method.
Put the frozen smoked salmon in a sealed bag in a bowl of cold water or under running cold water. While this defrosting method takes significantly less time, don’t expect the salmon to thaw within minutes.
Salmon submerged in cold water will take 3-4 hours to thaw. Never use hot or warm water to defrost the salmon.
While doing it will work, hot water on the frozen fish will increase the risk of bacterial growth and affect the texture of the fish.
3 Tips for Freezing and Defrosting Smoked Salmon
Sometimes knowing the proper freezing technique is not enough as you may come across unexpected issues. Here are some tips to make your experience of freezing and defrosting smoked salmon easier.
1. Use Parchment Paper
When you have many slices of smoked salmon you need to freeze, there is no need to use multiple plastic bags and containers.
Instead, use parchment paper to layer in between the salmon slices to prevent them from sticking to each other as well as save space in your freezer.
2. Slice the Salmon Before Freezing
If you want to be able to defrost smoked salmon quicker, you need to take steps when preparing the fish for freezing.
Slice the salmon when freezing it to cut down the defrosting time. The smaller the pieces of fish the quicker they will defrost.
Slicing the salmon prior to freezing also cuts down the preparation time of smoked salmon sandwiches and wraps.
3. Expect Your Fridge to Get Smelly
When defrosting smoked salmon in the fridge, don’t be surprised if it starts to smell fishy in the fridge. To avoid this problem, we recommend you use an odor absorber.
If you don’t have one in your fridge, go for natural odor-killing products, such as baking soda.
How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last After Defrosting?
If you have defrosted smoked salmon in the fridge, you can eat it within 3-4 days.
As for smoked salmon that was thawed using quick defrosting techniques (running cold water or a water bath) you should consume the fish immediately to avoid any health risks.
Signs That Smoked Salmon Has Gone Bad
Even if you have frozen smoked salmon when it was fresh and did it following all the freezing rules, the fish may still go bad for one reason or another.
Always check smoked salmon before freezing and after defrosting to see if there are any signs of spoilage.
Bad salmon is very easy to detect. Here are some of the signs of bad smoked salmon.
- White slimy layer on the fish caused by mold or yeast
- Rancid smell as opposed to the smoky smell of good smoked salmon
- A dull appearance and color changes
Now that we’ve gone over the best ways to freeze and store smoked salmon, let’s take a look at some related questions to the topic.
Can you freeze smoked salmon pate?
As there are often dairy-based ingredients in salmon pate, such as cream cheese, freezing it may not yield perfect results as the cream tends to separate as a result of freezing.
However, from the point of food safety, you can certainly freeze salmon pate, and doing it right will minimize the risks of texture changes.
The best way to freeze salmon pate is in small batches in airtight plastic containers.
If you know you will need to defrost the entire batch for a dinner party, shape a loaf out of the smoked salmon pate, wrap it tightly with cling wrap, label with the date, and freeze.
Use the salmon pate within 2 months for the best flavor and texture.
Make sure to thaw it thoroughly before serving. You can serve the defrosted smoked salmon pate with chopped dill sprinkled on top for freshness. Or, you can serve it spread on bread slices.
Can you freeze smoked salmon mousse?
Salmon mousse has a very delicate texture. However, you can still freeze it if you end up with leftovers after a fancy dinner party.
To successfully freeze salmon mousse, put it in a freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid. Label the container and eat it within 1-2 months.
Texture and flavor changes should be minimal if you freeze the mousse properly. If the mousse separates after thawing re-blend it to bring back its smooth texture.
Can you freeze smoked salmon terrine?
Smoked salmon terrine is the star of any dinner. But can you freeze the leftovers or save time by preparing the terrine ahead of time and storing it in the freezer? The good news is, you can!
Wrap the salmon terrine with cling wrap, making sure to not leave open areas. If you do, your salmon terrine may suffer a freezer burn.
Then, transfer the terrine wrapped in cling wrap into an airtight container or a freezer bag.
One thing you should know about frozen salmon terrine is that it will take hours to thaw. Thus, keep this in mind if you will be thawing the smoked salmon terrine for dinner.
Can you freeze lox?
The difference between smoked salmon and lox is that smoked salmon is brined and smoked while lox is brined but not smoked.
You can freeze lox the same way you freeze smoked salmon. If it is in an unopened packet, freeze the lox as is. For lox that is already out of its original package, freeze in an airtight zip-top bag pushing out the excess air.
Freezing extends the shelf life of lox to up to 3 months.
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