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Anchovies overload

  • m

We have somehow ended up with large quantities of both oil packed and salt packed anchovies. We have kept oil packed anchovies in our fridge for an embarrassingly long time, and they have still been ok. But the salt packed anchovies are a new thing for us.

Marcella Hazan says that you can store unused salt packed anchovies in the fridge if you cover them with olive oil. But she says to use them within 10-14 days, with the best time being within 1 week. But I was wondering, are there any other ways to store them? Can they be frozen with reasonable results? And if you freeze them, in oil or just straight?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. The advice I got from an Italian deli who sells them is that they keep pretty much forever just stored in the tin in the fridge. Ours are at least a year old and just used a few recently. No problem

    2 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      I wouldn't store them in their original can once opened. The can doesn't properly close, and it is usually made out of some ingredients that might leach. What I usually do is to re-salt them and store them in a sealed glass container. I put a heavy layer of salt at the bottom of a container, and then layer the anchovies, putting liberal amounts of salt between each layer. Top them with more salt. They keep at least 6 months (this is usually when I ran out them).

      1. re: emerilcantcook

        The glass jar is the best way, I agree. But in my crowded fridge, I use a more compact method.

        Extract all salt-dried anchovies from the purchased can, and lay them on a square foot sheet of parchment paper. Add lots of new coarse salt. Fold parchment to the dimensions of a heavy duty pint Ziploc, to make a containing envelope. Place that into a thin-gauge pint resealable food bag, then place that into the heavy duty ziploc. I use the double bag method for the odor protection and the messiness of the loose salt.

        Benefit is the compactness. The ziploc gets placed next to an equivalent bag of salted black beans.

        For the oil packed tins: they begin a histamine reaction from Day One of canning. I've seen figures of Four Years as a manufacturer's spec on shelf life, but they are one of the canned products that should be monitored and rotated.

        For large 500 gram tins of oil packed, transfer to glass jar.

        For a nice anchovy paste, try the Viet "mam nem", in a bottle.

    2. Your anchovy expert Hazan is on the wrong track. Salt is salt and oil is oil. There's no reason to mix the two which is essentially what you're doing. Let's put it this way, nothing bad grows in salt. That's why you have prosciutto and country hams. Once opened follow the instructions of the folks that already posted, just avoid dumping oil over them. If I were to choose a method, I'd use the glass pack method (which I have used) as opposed to the parchment paper. Frankly, there shouldn't be so much in your fridge at one time where you can't even put a small glass jar of anchovies in there. Anyway, that's another topic.

      Whatever you do, don't re-cover them with oil, just use more salt.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Squirrels

        Salt in glass is best, if you choose to allocate that volume into the refrigerator.

        Rest assured that jars already play a major role in my refrigeration management, lining the perimeter of each shelf, carefully accounted, ready to provide a broad pool of ingredients in which we dip and dabble depending upon the type of cuisine. The perimeter placement facilitates air circulation and allows open space in the interior for fresh incoming ingredients.

        Rest assured that an important part of my dry pantry is a 30 year assemblage of jars and plastic containers, ranging from 1 ounce to 64. These provide for a very parsimonious allocation of items into just the right size container for insertion into valuable and limited refrigerated space.

        If an item is dry, such as salted dry anchovies, black beans etc, I choose the flat stackable ziploc storage. The parchment is an addition to guard the plastic against the caustic salt. It has worked for years. It maximizes each cubic centimeter of my refrigerator space. If an item is wet, it goes in a jar.

        Rest assured that my refrigerator is a central part of my castle. It, and my management thereof, will only be wrested "from my cold... dead... hands."

        1. re: FoodFuser

          You put your dried beans in your fridge?

      2. I just checked my can which, BTW, has a snap-on plastic lid for use after opening. We bought them in NYC in December 2007 and they have a "use by" date of April 2009. I'd never noticed that before. So thanks to OP and others for this discussion. Better make some putanesca real fast :) I suppose I could freeze the sauce, couldn't I? Hmm, don't know about that either.

        1 Reply
        1. re: c oliver

          It freezes, no problems. Slight loss of olive texture, but that's it. Remove as much air as possible.

        2. A friend of mine who has a restaurant keeps the salted anchovies covered with plastic wrap in the frige with not problems or time limit.

          1. I transfer them to a sealable rigid plastic container and refrigerate them, too. I use a kilo, 2.2 lbs., about every 9 months or so, and have never had a problem with them, other than one of the kids, who clearly has inherited the anchovy gene, eating them almost au naturel whenever she visits.

            1. Use the oil ones first. The oil will get rancid with time. Is there an ingredient list with the salted ones? If it includes nitrates or nitrites you have an almost indefinite usage provided they are not exposed to light.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Paulustrious

                Mine are just anchovies, salt and brine. So I guess I should go ahead and cook them up fairly soon? Trying to think of other freezeable anchovy recipes :)

              2. Many thanks to all the thoughtful replies!

                I have repacked the salt packed anchovies in fresh kosher salt after transferring them to a glass jar. They seem ok, and have not overpowered the fridge (mind you , they have a lot of crazy odors to compete with - kimchi, various cheeses and dried sausages, etc).

                The oil packed ones cam with a plastic lid to reseal the can. The metal can seems to have some kind of coating, so I will risk it and keep them in the can for now.

                I foresee a lot of spaghetti alla olio and puttanesca in the near future! I shall also eat them on bread and crackers. Fortunately I am on quite a salty kick right now.

                5 Replies
                1. re: moh

                  Ahh.... the blissful conundrum of the ingredient-driven odoriferous fridge. A box of opened baking soda works well, then does final duty on porcelain structures in the bath.

                  Curious to hear in the future whether the plastic lid on the oil-packed contains any exuding of oil.

                  To use 'em up: adding oil-packed anchovies to a plebian tuna salad bumps it into the stratosphere.

                  1. re: FoodFuser

                    FoodFuser, the oil-packed tin with the plastic lid is a little oily on the outside already. I am going with Paulustrious's suggestion to use them up first.

                    And thanks for the tuna salad suggestion! We shall try that tomorrow.

                    1. re: moh

                      Since you're "using them up", try making enough tuna salad for two meals, and marvel at how well the flavors meld when held for a day or two in the fridge. Some water separation may occur; just stir it back in.

                      For a really different use for the oil once you get to the end of the 'chovies, try frying an egg at high heat to crust and denature the proteins. Different, but interesting.

                      1. re: FoodFuser

                        I must agree with you. Some people throw away the olive oil that the anchovies, sun dried tomatoes or olives (or even sardines) come in. I grant you that no recipes state sun-dried-tomato-oil as an ingredient, but I think a little deviation is entirely appropriate.

                  2. re: moh

                    All of the extra sodium kind of makes me cringe.

                    I see nothing wrong with storing already salty anchovies in extra olive oil. The anchovies seem to last almost indefinitely as long as they don't dry out and are kept in the fridge.