There are a number of ways you can ensure that seafood is fresh and safe. Here's what to look for when choosing fresh seafood...
What Freshness Looks—And Smells—Like
A faint sea odor is normal, but fresh seafood should not smell "fishy," according to Kantha Shelke, PhD, a food science expert at the Institute of Food Technologists. Freshly cut fish, peeled crustaceans (shrimp, prawns, rock shrimp, lobster, soft shell crabs) and shucked mollusks (scallops, oysters, clams and mussels) should be moist, not slimy or dry around the edges.
Fresh fish should have clear, well-rounded eyes, not clouded, dry and sunken. The gills should be bright red, not darkened or slimy, and the fish should feel moist and springy instead of mushy, she added.
Fresh prawns, shrimp, lobster, soft shell crabs and rock shrimp should have a uniformly light-colored tail without any discoloration, Dr. Shelke said. Mollusks in the shell should be alive and hold tightly to their shells when handled and must come with either a "last sale date" or "date shucked." When buying fresh oysters, look for a natural creamy color within a clear liquid.
It's best to buy fresh seafood the day you're going to eat it. If that isn't possible, properly store it in the refrigerator or freezer until it is prepared and cooked…
How To Store Seafood Safely
- Fresh fish, shrimp, scallops, freshwater prawns, and lobster tails can be stored in tightly sealed storage bags or plastic containers and kept on ice in the refrigerator. Using this method, fresh scallops and crustacean tails will keep three to four days and fresh fish will keep five to seven days.
- Scallops, crustacean tails and fish can be frozen in water and stored in a freezer for four to six months (0°F or lower). To thaw, leave them in the refrigerator overnight or you can place them under cold, running tap water immediately before you cook them.
- Live, hard-shell mollusks can remain alive for a week to 10 days stored without ice in the refrigerator, kept at 34 to 38°F.
- Freshly shucked mollusks can keep for up to 10 days when packed in ice and stored in the refrigerator.
- Fresh soft-shell crabs can be stored up to two days if wrapped in plastic and packed in ice in the refrigerator. They can keep for up to six months when wrapped in several layers of plastic and stored in a freezer (at 0°F). It is important to thaw these overnight in the refrigerator only.
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