5 golden rules to stay safe and make the most of your seafood’s shelf life

How long does your seafood really last after you buy it?

Seafood is a year-round favourite for many Aussies. It doesn't just come out at Christmas, we are a nation that loves a prawn or two!

But, with seafood can come the risk of getting ill if it's not stored or prepared properly. Correct storage of seafood after purchase will also help retain its quality when you're ready to enjoy it.

In celebration of the Seafood Excellence Awards, Alex Stollznow, Sydney Fish Market Fish Expert provides his five top tips for storing your seafood so you can always enjoy your favourite seafood at its best:

1. Keep your purchase cool from the shop to the fridge

Make sure fresh seafood stays chilled and doesn’t exceed five degrees celsius until time of cooking. Don’t forget to bring a chiller bag and retailers at Sydney Fish Market will happily give you a bag of ice to keep things cool.

2. When you get home, unwrap your seafood immediately

Note that the paper can act as an insulator. Place the seafood on a plate or container, cover and place in the coldest part of the fridge. This is usually the middle of the bottom shelf.

3. Use your nose

How long you can store that seafood for depends on how fresh it was when you bought it, but as a rule of thumb, one to three days is ideal. If in doubt about the freshness of your seafood, give it a smell. When fresh, seafood smells pleasantly of the sea. Fresh seafood shouldn’t smell bad or “fishy”. 

4. Know how long your seafood lasts

• Fish: Fresh fish can last for up to two to three days after purchase if covered with a damp cloth inside a lidded container and stored in the coldest part of the fridge. 

• Crabs: Live crabs must be cooked and consumed on the same day of purchase. Keep in a cool place with a damp cloth over the container ensuring that the cloth remains damp.

• Prawns: Green prawns should be cooked as soon as possible after purchase. Refrigerate, covered in the coldest part of the fridge.  

• Mussels: Loose mussels should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. Place in a container, cover with a damp cloth and keep in the warmest part of the refrigerator, usually the crisper (optimum 5 degrees celsius), ensuring that the cloth remains damp. Before cooking discard any shells that are open and don’t close when tapped or gently squeezed. For an extended life, you may want to consider purchasing cryo-vacuum packed mussels which are packed live in sea water. The packs are stamped with a use-by date which usually gives about a week’s life after purchase from a retail store.

• Squid, Cuttlefish and Octopus: Should be placed in a lidded container, covered with a damp cloth, then covered with the lid and consumed within two to three days.

5. If freezing fish, scale, gut, gill and wipe out all fish before freezing.

Place in an airtight container, extract as much air as possible, label and date. Whole non-oily fish can be frozen for up to six months and whole oily fish, and all fish fillets, steaks and cutlets can be frozen for up to three months.

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