Can you freeze smoked salmon? The short answer is: Of course, you can freeze smoked salmon. You may want to portion it in convenient serving sizes for later use or you are saving it for a special occasion six months down the road. Whatever the reason is, smoked salmon does quite well in the freezer.
Smoked salmon is always a tasty treat. There might be a sale or you brought a bunch back from a trip perhaps. It has been argued that smoked salmon tastes best fresh from the smoker. But what do you do if you have too much salmon to eat in a short period of time? After all it only keeps fresh in the refrigerator for a short amount of time.
Image used under Creative Commons from Chelsea Nesvig
Repeated freezing and thawing considerations
Depending on the source, most store bought smoked salmon has already been frozen at least once. It’s more economical for retailers to keep products like these in stock frozen to prevent excessive loss to spoilage. You can only be sure your salmon has not ever been frozen if you caught it yourself. In just about any other situation it is standard practice to freeze salmon immediately to preserve its initial freshness.
It is important to note that repeated thawing and freezing will degrade meat. If you consider that freezing turns the water molecules inside the meat into microscopic daggers that cut the fibrous muscle strands, then you can see how repeating the process more than once will leave your smoked salmon in a sad state. Repeated thawing and refreezing also allows bacteria, such as salmonella, to grow and infect your food.
Unopened, in the refrigerator, shrink wrapped smoked salmon will have a shelf life of about two months. Once the package is open, you have about three days. If you freeze it, you can store smoked salmon for about six months before the flavor degenerates. Freezing is a good way to further preserve leftovers you aren’t going to use immediately.
If you do need to freeze smoked salmon, try to use containers or freezer bags that allow you to remove as much air as possible. A tight vacuum seal would be ideal. The less air is in contact with the frozen meat, the less likely you are to encounter oxidation and freezer burn later. Salmon lends itself to being frozen better than other meats and you can safely freeze it without losing much of the texture and taste that make salmon so great. It’s even better if you leave the original packaging intact before freezing the salmon.
Foods containing smoked salmon, such as quiche or dips can also easily be frozen. You may consider making the final dish and freezing it in portions to serve at a later time or for safe storage until you’re ready to use it. You should not notice any appreciable degradation of flavor with these types of food.
Frozen smoked salmon should only be thawed in the refrigerator at temperatures below 40ºF. Thawing it in warm water or at room temperature is not advisable because the salmon’s texture may greatly suffer under these conditions. You may also run the risk of bacterial bloom while the partially thawed fish is left exposed too long. Salmon, smoked or fresh, should always be well refrigerated.
Feel free to enjoy a tasty treat with smoked salmon and even save some for later in the freezer. If you follow standard freezer precautions you should have fresh smoked salmon year round, right from your freezer.