While it is impossible to prevent this natural spoilage process, good temperature control and handling can greatly slow down the rate of spoilage and ensure the product is of as good quality as it can possibly be.
Once you’ve taken delivery of your consignment of your home delivered order, below are a few tips for you to consider:
- To maintain shelf life and quality, seafood should be constantly stored in chilled conditions, via the use of either ice or refrigeration. Even a short amount of time at ambient temperature will affect seafood’s quality and reduce its shelf life, so this should be avoided or kept to an absolute minimum. As with the storage of most other fresh foodstuffs, the lower the storage temperature the better.
- Certain fish species, including tuna, mackerel and herring, are also susceptible to the formation of histamine at elevated temperatures, which can cause issues for consumers. For such species, storage at temperatures lower than 4°C is especially important.
- When storing chilled fish in a refrigerator, always try to cover them with some form of plastic overwrap to prevent any drying out. Ice can also be used in conjunction with refrigeration to reduce product temperature and maintain shelf life. If using ice, ensure that excess melt water is removed periodically, so that the fish does not stay in contact with any water. However, there are some exceptions and tuna, salmon and smoked fish products should not be directly iced.
- As with all foods, cooked and raw seafood should always be stored separately.
- Freezing – if you adopt correct freezing procedures, it is perfectly possible to provide the same eating experience with frozen and thawed seafood as with fresh chilled fish that has never been frozen. To maintain the integrity of the product, the freezing process should be undertaken as quickly as possible and at as low a temperature as possible. If you freeze a chilled product yourself, it should be good quality and within the range of its noted shelf-life. Frozen products should be clearly labelled and used in date order. Wrap well in protective packaging to avoid exposure to air which can cause freezer burn and damage the product. Check your frozen seafood periodically to ensure it shows no sign of freezer burn – and discard anything that shows signs of damage.
- Thawing – the thawing process for any frozen seafood should be done using careful control of temperature and not attempted too quickly – overnight in a refrigerator is ideal. Put frozen products on a plate or tray, cover with some form of plastic overwrap and place them in the bottom section of the refrigerator to thaw slowly. Any excess melt water should be removed. When you eventually remove thawed seafood from the refrigerator you can treat it in the same way as chilled fish.