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How Long Does Fresh Fish Keep in the Fridge?

  • l

I bought some cod on Tuesday and haven't had a chance to use it yet. Will it be ok for tonight (Thursday)?

How long can I hang onto fish once I've brought it home from the market?

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  1. Depends on how fresh it was when you got it and how cold it has been kept in your fridge. Tuesdays and Thursdays (or Fridays) are usually the days when the freshest fish is available in the market, so you have a higher chance that it was fresher than it might otherwise have been.

    Smell it. Check and see how firm it is and whether it is leaking any fluid, which might be a sign of things breaking down.

    In the future, you should try to buy fresh fish on the day you intend to cook it, or no earlier than the day before. Try to keep it very cold, preferably on crushed ice, for maintaining the best condition.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Karl S.

      I am not a fish eater..Just shell fish. So, its very interesting to learn how long fresh fish can actually stay. Thanks for the info.

      A couple of other points that might interest people. Look for bright red gills and very clear eyes. In the restaurant equipment business, perhaps 25 years ago, Traulsen, the top name in commercial refireration at that time, came out with a unique refrigerator to store fish...It was called a refrigerated fish file.

      If you blow cold air across the surface of fresh fish, it will dry it out. That's one reason why all fish markets use bins and crushed ice. Aside from display purposes, of course.

      Anyway, the fish file refrigerator uses indirect cooling that permeates the entire cavity rather than the blower fan distribution method found in normal commercial refrigerators.

      this type of refrigerator also has drainage provisions and must be connected to a floor drain. There is no electric condensate pan under the unit to remove normally light condensation. This baby discarges lots of melted ice water, if you choose to fill up the drawers with ice.

      This unique refrigerator allows you to put fresh fish in drawers and you can cover your fish with crushed ice as well...All inside the refrigerator. That fish can stay for days! All the top restaurants ahve this equipment - especially if they sell a lot of fresh fish.

      I now believe those of you who are rich enought to have a commercial type kitchen in your home can also get one or two of these drawers as well.

      1. re: Chuck

        Re: shellfish: clams last about a week and oyster 2 or 3 weeks, so when someone gives me a bag full (it does actually happen on the east end of Long island) I stick them in water with corn meal and try to get to them by the weekend. Lobsters you have to cook live pretty much though.

        1. re: coll
          a
          A Fish Called Wanda

          Live shellfish can last a while, but once it's dead, it goes bad very fast. This mostly applies to shrimp and squid. Since lobsters, clams, and mussels are cooked alive, they are good until they are dead ;)

        2. re: Chuck

          Of course the gills and eyes test avail the customer for nought when buying precut steaks and filets, which is how most people buy fish these days.

      2. a
        A Fish Called Wanda

        I agree with everything Karl S. said. Cod shouldn't smell at all (oily fish like bluefish have a slight sea smell, but cod shouldn't smell like anything). It should also not be slimy. So if it meets that criteria, go for it.

        Unlike shellfish, fin fish has a much longer life. You really don't have to cook it the day you bought it, but how long you have depends on when the fish market got it. So when I buy fish, I always ask how long I can keep it. Generally fin fish stays for 5-7 days after it was pulled out of the water. Given that it usually takes the fish market 2-3 days to get it, it leaves you another 2-3 days. This assumes ideal storage (at 32F). If you are not sure of the temperature in your fridge, it's best to sandwich the fish (right in its packaging) between two ice packs. Remember that fish markets don't get deliveries on mondays, so monday fish is always older.

        1. Personally, I only buy fish on the day that I am going to cook it. The only way that I keep fish longer than a few hours is if I am marinating it, and even then I don't keep it longer than overnight. A dry rub keeps the fish juice inside of it better than a wet marinade. In either case, I don't use anything that stayed in the bowl after I took the fish out. I grew up on LI too, and my dad and I did a lot of fishing together. I saw a LOT of raw fish! This is another reason that I NEVER eat sushi. Phew, once you've seen inside a fish stomach you don't want to eat that fish raw (at least I don't).

          1. Until the fish's eyes glaze over, and it smells 'fishy'. The fishy smell is a dead giveaway that it is no longer fresh.

            1. One should always try to use fish the day you bought it. That being said it could still be fine if it was purchased at a quality shop, and stored properly. Try the "scratch and sniff test" I am assuming that you purchased fillet : examine it for firmness, smell and moistness. Reject it if has any foul odor, soft or gaping texture, or off color. Fish actually can last for longer than anyone would suspect but like any other protein exposure and temperature abuse will kill it quick.