How long can thawed fish stay in the fridge? The answer may shock you! And it fully explains why so many people often get sick from previously frozen seafood!
Read on to learn more, and don’t forget to check out the many other educational guides I have on my site! And feel free to request specific topics that you want to learn more about!
How Long Can Fish Be In The Fridge?
Fresh fish doesn’t have a pin-pointed shelf life like processed foods do. There are so many variable factors that can ultimately help or hinder the final shelf life.
That being said, I wouldn’t keep fresh raw fish inside my fridge for longer than 3 days (maybe 4, but unlikely). And that’s if the fish was freshly caught as well!
Fish is extremely perishable, and unlike many other raw ingredients, the consequences of eating even slightly off fish can be dire! So for that reason, I like to stick to the “rather be safe than sorry” mantra.
If you have any suspicions that your fresh fish may have expired or is starting to go bad, you should discard it immediately. Check out my guide on How To Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad and How To Tell If Shrimp Has Gone Bad. The same rules apply to virtually all types of fish and seafood.
How Long Can Thawed Fish Stay In The Fridge?
Now, there is a difference in the timeframe when storing fresh and thawed fish in the fridge. Fresh fish has a much better texture and if stored properly, is much less susceptible to rapid bacterial growth.
Previously frozen, now thawed fish won’t last nearly as long. Personally, I only ever keep thawed fish in my fridge for 24 hours. It can potentially last for 2 days but don’t leave it uncooked for longer.
During freezing, ice crystals break the bonds that help keep the flesh firm, juicy, and flavorful. When the fish starts thawing, the broken bonds cannot retain these qualities, causing the fish to become limp, less flavorful, and a lot less tender and juicy.
The longer you store thawed fish, the worse the meat will get. So again, for the best results, cook the thawed fish within 24 hours.
And just in case anyone is still doubting this: you cannot keep thawed fish inside the fridge for 3 days, and you cannot keep thawed fish inside the fridge for 5 days! The fish will be extremely unsafe to eat and will also not even be appealing!
How Long Does Frozen Fish Last In The Fridge?
Many people think this has the same meaning as “How long can thawed fish stay in the fridge?”
The difference is that frozen fish that is stored inside the fridge takes a long time to thaw out completely. The timeline given above (for thawed fish) is from the moment the fish is fully thawed.
This timeline is from the moment the fish is transferred from the freezer to the fridge while it’s still frozen.
It can literally add an entire day extra. So, if you store frozen fish inside the fridge (to start defrosting), it can last between 2-3 days. Again, it’s best to cook it within 24 hours from when it has fully defrosted.
The Best Way To Thaw Fish
Now that you know exactly how long thawed fish can stay in the fridge, let’s take a look at the best practices for thawing fish.
This is very important because if you don’t follow these guidelines, the shelf life of the thawed fish will shorten immensely.
How To Thaw Fish
- Remove the fish from the freezer.
- Place it inside a baking dish or tray so that the juices don’t run all over the fridge.
- Set the tray at the bottom of the fridge and preferably towards the back. The bottom is colder than the top, and so is the back.
- Leave the fish to slowly thaw for a couple of hours. If there are excess juices in the wrapping or tray, drain it so the fish doesn’t sit in it for hours on end. This promotes bacterial growth which obviously shortens the shelf life.
- When the fish is completely thawed and ready to be used, prepare it as your recipe requires. You may need to wash off some juices that leeched out as the meat defrosted.
If it is at all possible, unwrap the fish and place it on top of some kitchen cloth or wipes. This will absorb the juices coming out of the meat as it thaws. Wrap the entire tray with plastic or saran wrap to prevent the meat from drying out as it thaws.
The only reason I didn’t mention this trick in the method above is that people rarely keep kitchen wipes on hand. Also, please don’t use wipes that have already been used with chemicals. Always use clean and unused wipes to prevent chemical contamination.
The benefit of thawing fish slowly in the fridge is that the meat retains its flavor, juiciness, and firm texture. Furthermore, it keeps the fish outside of the temperature danger zone, which compromises the cold chain completely.
How To Store Thawed Fish In The Fridge
If you are left with fully thawed fish before you are ready to use it, you should properly store it to prolong its shelf life.
First, use paper towel to dry off the outside of the fish to prevent bacteria from growing.
Next, line a deep baking dish or tray with kitchen wipes. These will absorb any juices still coming out of the fish.
Place the fish on top of the kitchen wipes and cover it with some wipes too.
Then, proceed to wrap the entire tray with plastic or saran wrap. This keeps the thawed fish from drying out and losing its firm texture.
Again, only keep this fish in the fridge for a day, two at the most. Anything longer, and you seriously risk getting ill.