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Apr 12, 2009 03:22 PM

Anchovies overload

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.