Does Frozen Salmon Go Bad? – Full Analysis

by Charlie
Published: Last Updated on
Frozen salmon fillets

Salmon is a tasty and nutritious fish that many families enjoy having as part of their meals–but you might be curious if you can safely freeze it.

Does frozen salmon go bad? Yes, frozen salmon does expire or go bad. Salmon can be frozen for storage but for no longer than three to four months.

We will answer frequently asked questions about freezing salmon, including the two best ways to store it and how to tell if it is unsafe to eat.

How Long Does Frozen Salmon Last?

The amount of time that salmon can be frozen depends on how it is stored and what type of freezer it is stored in. Vacuum sealing the salmon will help it last longer and storing it in a deep freezer will also increase the amount of time it can be frozen.

In a regular freezer, salmon can be frozen for around two months. If you vacuum seal the bag that the salmon is in, it can last longer–for three or four months in a regular freezer.

With a deep freezer, salmon will last for about three to four months. Vacuum sealing and using a deep freezer will extend the storage time to six to twelve months.

After the recommended storage time, the salmon will begin to lose both its flavor and its nutritional value. Salmon that is stored longer than the suggested time will start to become unsafe to eat.

What Makes Frozen Salmon Go Bad?

Like any food, salmon will not last forever, even if it is properly stored in the freezer. Aside from the passage of time, there are other factors that can make salmon go bad.

The biggest concern is with the salmon entering what is known as the temperature danger zone. This zone is between 4 and 60 degrees Celsius (or between 39 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit).

When food enters the danger zone, bacteria and pathogens can grow rapidly. With frozen salmon, the main way that this happens is if the fish is partially or entirely thawed and then refrozen.

Always check that your freezer is set to the proper temperature of -18 degrees Celsius (or 0 degrees Fahrenheit). A deep freezer may be set to a colder temperature.

Limit the amount of time that your freezer door is open. Know what you want to get out of the freezer before opening the door. The more time the freezer door is open, the warmer it gets inside.

How Do You Know If Frozen Salmon is Bad?

If you have some frozen salmon that you’re not sure about, there are some signs that can tell you if it is safe to eat. If in doubt, throw it out.

How the salmon smells can be an indicator of freshness. It should smell fresh and mild. Salmon that has gone bad may have an odor that is sour, rancid, or like ammonia. 

The visual appearance will also provide information about whether the salmon has gone bad. If it looks or feels slimy, you should not eat it. A milky residue is another sign that the salmon is off.

Other indications of salmon that is unsafe to eat include a grey tinge, discoloration, or mold. Dark spots or white spots in the salmon are also signs that it should be discarded.

Freezer burn can be a sign that your salmon was not stored as well as it should have been, but it is not always an indication that the salmon is spoiled. If the salmon doesn’t have any signs of having gone bad other than freezer burn, it should be safe to eat.

Can You Get Sick From Eating Frozen Salmon That Has Gone Bad?

Consuming salmon that has been improperly stored, thawed and refrozen, or just kept too long can cause food poisoning. While most people recover quickly from food poisoning, it can sometimes be severe and even lead to death.

The majority of people who experience food poisoning will develop symptoms within one to three days of consuming the spoiled food. It is possible to become sick in as little as 20-30 minutes after eating. It can sometimes take five weeks for individuals to show signs of food poisoning.

The most common symptoms of food poisoning are abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Other symptoms include headache, fever, and body aches. 

Pregnant women, elderly people, young children, and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of having severe symptoms. These individuals should err on the side of caution when evaluating the safety of frozen salmon.

How Can You Properly Store Frozen Salmon?

Properly storing salmon will help protect against spoilage. You can store whole salmon or portions of salmon, but smaller portions will freeze faster. You can freeze salmon either in a plastic bag or by wrapping it in layers.

First, rinse the salmon under cold running water. If using a bag, place the salmon inside the plastic bag and remove all of the air, either by pressing down, using a straw, or using a vacuum sealer. To wrap in layers, wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Then, wrap again with foil.

Label your packages with the date. This will help you to determine how long it has been in the freezer later on. Ensure that your freezer is set to -18 degrees Celsius (or 0 degrees Fahrenheit). 

You’ll want to store your salmon in the coldest part of the freezer, which is against the bottom and along the back wall. Since this area is the furthest from the door, it will stay coldest when the freezer door is opened.

Final Thoughts

Freezing salmon is a great way to store it for later use. Ensure that you package it properly and have your freezer set to the right temperature. Do not thaw the salmon until you are ready to prepare it.

If the salmon has been stored longer than the recommended time, or if it shows any signs that it is unsafe to eat, discard it. Unsafe salmon can cause food poisoning for those who consume it.

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