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How long store anchovy fillets in olive oil?

Hey Chowhounds - I bought one of those small glass jars of anchovy fillets in olive oil and I opened it up tonight to take out a couple of fillets, but there are probably about 20 fillets remaining. I know I can cap it and put it in the fridge, but how long will they last more or less?

Searches indicate a wide window as short as 2 days and as long as a few months... any experiences here?

In case it matters, I do think they are quality fillets, the Italian Agostino Recca brand.


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  1. I routinely keep them a few months. Two days is ridiculously short, I think.

    1. I'm also in the months camp.

      1. They keep, period. But you might take the opportunity to find new recipes using them. Or just put them on toast and eat them.

        1. They seem to keep forever in the fridge.

          1. I just tossed a jar out, because I couldn't remember when I opened them. I poked them with my finger, first, just to see, and they pretty much disintegrated. I'd bet they were there since November. So maybe 6 months open is too long?

            1 Reply
            1. re: jeanmarieok

              Six months is fine. I've had them disintegrate if they were packed in salt in a jar, but never if packed in olive oil.

            2. I've kept them several months in the fridge - either already purchased in a glass jar, or transferred to a small glass jar from a tin & re-covered with more olive oil.

              The only caveat I'll mention is that after a few weeks the flavor does lose it's "meatiness" & definitely gets "fishier".

              I'd plan on using them sooner rather than later, even if they will technically "keep".

              1. I keep them a very long time. Months. They tend to get a bit fishy though.

                11 Replies
                1. re: tommy

                  The real question is why aren't you all using them up faster? :-)
                  Here are two recipes:

                  1. Salad dressing. You should do this with mortar and pestle, but a mini food processor is OK in a pinch. Pound together about 4 anchovy fillets and 1 garlic clove until it's a paste. Add a little vinegar, about 2 tsp, and about 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Mix. Use on curly endive, romaine lettuce, radicchio, or other salad that can defend itself (this is the classic dressing for Roman puntarelle).

                  2. Pasta sauce. Put the water on for the pasta. Then, while you wait for it to boil, in a large frying pan sautè gently in quite a bit of extra virgin olive oil a crushed garlic clove, about an inch of hot pepper, and some anchovy fillets, maybe 4-6. Discard the garlic and pepper when they change color. Mash the anchovies with a fork or wooden spoon until they disintegrate. When the pasta is done, drain it not too dry and transfer it to the pan. Toss with the anchovy oil until well coated. You could then sprinkle on a bit of minced flat-leaf parsley.

                  1. re: mbfant

                    That pasta sounds great, but why discard the garlic? When it turns colour and gets nice and brown and soft thats the best thing in the world, if I don't put enough in I have to fight with my fiance over the little morsels of joy

                    1. re: TeRReT

                      It's customary in Italy to do it that way. Strong garlic flavor is not considered desirable. I just do as I'm told.

                      1. re: mbfant

                        hmm my experience with Italy is drastically different, but as every region of Italy is different thats entirely possible. And as the garlic becomes brown it becomes a more subtle, nuttier flavour, but again, every region is different so to each their own. Regardless its an excellent use of anchovies. Rapini would work as well, works nice with oil/garlic/anchovies.

                        1. re: TeRReT

                          Mediterranean people in general seem to have an aversion to strong, biting flavors. The neighbors in San Vito dei Normanni each took a bite of my mom's standard Midwestern potato salad (potatoes, egg, onion and mayonnaise) and politely declined any more. And my maccheroni alla arabbiata, described on the menu as extremely spicy, was to my taste extremely bland. This was in Puglia; I found Roman food to be much bolder.

                      2. re: TeRReT

                        My MIL taught me to always throw out the garlic, even in red sauce. You get it just brown the cloves (always a set amount!) and then out it goes.

                      3. re: mbfant

                        Even though they'll last a long time, I concur with the notion of using those delicious fishes up. These are two good ideas. I like the sauce idea but for sauteed greens instead of pasta. I sometimes add an anchovy to soup, particularly one that contains beans and greens like a spinach-chickpea soup. Or make pizza.

                        1. re: tcamp

                          Broccolo romanesco or cauliflower or regular broccoli, boiled or steamed first, then "ripassati" in the garlic-oil-pepper-anchovies, very delish with or without pasta.

                          1. re: mbfant

                            A friend I used to cook with a lot introduced me to roasted broccolini dressed with anchovies ground to a paste in olive oil. I modified that to include this sauce in pan-braised broccolini, broccoli, cauliflower or whatever. Great flavor-mates.

                        2. re: mbfant

                          Heres another recipe:

                          Hold fridge door open with right leg
                          remove anchovy jay (I have a large tin)
                          open jar (or tin)
                          remove 1 or two fillets
                          tilt head back and drop fillets into mouth
                          close jar (or tin)
                          let fridge door close

                          repeat as necessary

                          I also like snipping 2-3 into a salad

                      4. Mine can be in the fridge for several months. You've got two very good preservatives workign together - the oil and the cold.

                        1 Reply
                        1. I used to keep them in fridge for several months. Then I made some pasta with them and got ill. I now take them out of the container, wrap in plastic and freeze. This probably isn't good for recipes that call for fresh, but I only use them in pasta sauces and it works pretty well.


                          1. Egads, I neglected to share my favorite way to eat up leftover anchovies.

                            Soften some good butter, cut off a decent hunk and use a fork to blend in an anchovy or two. Toast good quality sourdough or similar bread, spread with the fishy-butter, and enjoy. That is what I do when I run out of marmite.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: tcamp

                              I'm going to try that tomorrow!

                                1. re: tcamp

                                  No matter — I cut out sugar, not butter.

                                  I tried it this morning for breakfast with my six-month old anchovies. Nothing but unsalted Tillamook butter, several Bellino anchovies, and toasted Artisan Bakery Pullman sourdough. It's wonderful! I should have figured this out myself, as I usually have the ingredients on hand.

                                  If the old anchovies kill me, I'll let y'all know.

                            2. I've started buying tubes of anchovy paste. I keep it in the fridge. I use a small amount in just about every thing I make be it chili/stews/soups etc. Tuscan cooking uses anchoys a lot but in small amounts. It really adds a certain S.Mediterranean 'note'.

                              1. A few years late to this party, but after drooling over some of the anchovies mashed in olive oil ideas, thought I'd chip in.

                                A/ I just used a half jar that was sitting in my fridge for 3 months to no ill effect.

                                B/ I pan cook fish filets in a little butter, soy sauce and lemon juice, sprinkle with S&P, top them with another pat of butter and lay two anchovy filets over each fish fillet.

                                I cover and cook medium-low till the anchovies are almost dissolving, smoosh them the rest of the way and spoon some of the liquid over the fish at the end.

                                Terrific on tilapia, haddock or blue fish.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Kman18

                                  You can buy small tubes of anchovy paste. I use it in most things I cook so it never lasts very long.

                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                    Yes, but eating anchovy paste out of the tube isn't quite as exciting as sneaking one of the filets before it gets into the pan(:>).

                                2. I've been getting fresh escarole at the farmers market and tossing it under the broiler for 3 minutes or so and then tossing with anchovies, lemon juice, evoo and parmesan. Something like a grilled, bitter Caesar. I don't use very many anchovies in each batch but I've been making it many times a week so we're flying through the jar!

                                  1 Reply