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How long can you keep fish?

I bought some grey sole on Sunday. I was going to cook it tonight but just found out that the child who doesn't eat fish will be home. Now I'm debating saving it for tomorrow night when she will be out. But I'm concerned about if it can stay that long? What do you think?

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  1. I don't like to keep fish for more than a day or two. I think your nose is your guide. If it smells ok, it usually is.

    1. You should be fine. I store fresh fish in the fridge for 2-3 without spoiling. You can freeze it and store it forever =)

      1. You keep fish as long as you keep company.
        They both start to stink after about 2 days.

        3 Replies
        1. re: monavano


          I try to buy and cook same day.

          Next day max for me, especially the warm weather months where fridge temps can be a bit higher and flux.

          If not used the next day I freeze.

          I lost some awesome monkfish last summer due to letting it go to day two. Imma stilla kicking myself over that one.

          But, as above and below, the nose knows.
          And fish ain't cheap, even if you caught it yourself.

          1. re: monavano

            Or, as my grandmother used to say, "Guests & fish should be thrown out after 3 days".

          2. totally depends on how fresh it was when you bought it. sunday fish was likely brought to the store on friday. smell it now. if it seems ok, wrap it well, then put that package on ice in a bowl in the back bottom of the fridge to keep as cold as possible.

            1. Hotoynoodle is right on the mark. It truly depends on how fresh it was when you bought it.

              Fish caught on a Monday and immediately iced will go a good week in a cold fridge under ice.

              A little fish smell can be taken care of with good rinse under cold water and a soak in buttermilk.

              2 Replies
                1. re: alkapal

                  Absolutely! In my case, bottom shelf of the spare fridge under zip lock filled with ice. I do the same with shell fish.

              1. Here's the deal: if you are not cooking within a day (and I would say unless you are cooking it within a couple of hours), you must keep fish on ice in the fridge. It needs to be kept close to the freezing mark. Fridge temps are about 5-10 degrees F too warm for it to keep well, and most people have no idea that the difference is important. Another reason always keep ice packs in the freezer (or ask for the fish to be put in a bag of ice at the market).

                1 Reply
                1. re: Karl S

                  Yep. The only time a fish should see a fridge is when it's leftovers after cooking, or marinating. Ice, freezer, countertop, or cooking, all other times.

                2. Fish I catch, 3 days. Fish at the market, 1 day. Wrap fish in plastic or zip loc bag. Place in colander, put in a larger bowl, and cover in ice and refrigerate. Do not let fish soak in water.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    I have caught and sold fish to the same market several days in a row and the 1st batch was still sitting in totes covered in ice in a refrigerated warehouse when I brought in a load 3 days later.

                    Absolute key is how its treated when taken off the hook. Mine went in 151 QT Igloo coolers that contained 4 - 6 inches of crushed ice and a couple gallons of salt water.

                    When I got to the market, they were stiff as a board, glass eyes & bright red gills. They commanded double the price (vs) the lightly iced burlap bag fish I bought at the dock and resold. Reason I was told was the extended shelf life of the ice bathed fish.

                    1. re: Tom34

                      The saltwater bath is the way to go, but I'm dealing with a recreational catch, speckled trout, redfish, and flounder for my own consumption. I generally freeze fish the same day I catch it, leaving a few meals to eat up to 3 days.

                      1. re: James Cristinian

                        Recreational fishing is my limit these days, too old and out of shape for the commercial stuff, but I still salt water ice bath as they come off the hook. I also vacuum seal good quality seafood that is going to be frozen. Only wish I could catch & eat fresh Redfish up here :-(

                      2. re: Tom34

                        my nephew is an experienced fisherman, and used to do guided fishing tours in the gulf of mexico. he froze his filleted grouper in a block of ice so i could bring it back on a plane (pre-9/11). it was frozen as soon as he dressed it, and i kept it in the freezer for maybe three months. it made a beautiful dinner -- the fish perfect!

                        1. re: alkapal

                          A lot of restaurants freeze fish in blocks of water. Shrimp hold better that way too. I love Grouper. Fun to catch and great to eat.

                    2. I would cook today it and eat it tomorrow .

                      1. i'd have cooked it right away. refreezing is not good if it was originally frozen -- that's what i've heard.

                        i've vowed -- after once waiting too long to cook a beautiful fillet of chilean sea bass -- to only buy fish the day i intend to cook it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: alkapal

                          "[O]nly buy fish the day [you] intend to cook it."

                          A solid life rule. Should go in the category of "look both ways before you cross", "brush your teeth before you go to bed", "don't covet your neighbor's daughter".

                        2. It all depends on how the fish has been handled since it was caught & when it was caught. A lot of fish fillets you see today are previousy frozen and refreshed, which is a nice way to say defrosted & treated with chemical to prolong shelf life & add water weight.I bought some prisitne cod loins recently that I didnt have the opportunity to eat for three days. It was still delicious. Ice boat shrimp and scallops trips can last a week or more. The first day's catch has been sitting on ice for that long. The biggest mistake people make is freezing fish @ home just before it statrs to spoil. You need to freeze fish as soon as you get it home.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: zackly

                            however, if the fish has been previously frozen and thawed by the market, you will utterly wreck it by freezing it again.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              I don't find this to be the case with cod anyway. I buy previously frozen cod & re-freeze what I don't cook immediately. I then defrost/cook it, sous vide, from a frozen state.It comes out fine.

                          2. A store fish in the frig with two small bags of chopped ice...covering it. While I generally cook it the same day...this generally works when I buy on Sat to cook on Sunday.

                            1. When buying whole fish, look for bright red gills & clear eyes.

                              When buying fillets, use your nose. I don't care how weird is looks, I ask to smell a piece before I buy. It should smell clean like salt water. If there is an unpleasant smell that crinkles your nose a little and you keep sniffing trying to figure it out, PASS.

                              1. Thanks for all the replies! I kept it extra cold and when I opened it up yesterday early in the day it looked great and smelled fine. I put it in marinade and set it back in the fridge until cooking time. It was delicious!

                                1. As a rule, on day 1 grill it, day 2 make it in a baked casserole, day 3 in a chowder. After that, give to the cat.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: treb

                                    I cut some dark meat out of a big striped bass filet one time and gave it to the dog. The dog's breath was so bad it would stop a wart hog in its tracks. Kids told me never again.