The Best Way to Freeze Fish and Game
Don't let the spoils of the hunt become spoiled! Freshly-caught game or fish makes a great meal, but rarely will you be able to eat every morsel in one sitting. You're probably already aware that freezing food is the best option for keeping it edible for as long as possible, but what are the best ways to freeze foods that don't come with packaging? We've got a breakdown of the best tips on how to store fish and game in your chest freezer.
The Cardinal Rule of Freezing Foods
Keep it under wraps! The most important tip for long-term freezing of food is to minimize contact with air as much as possible. Exposure to air is what causes freezer burn, so take every precaution you can to prevent your goods from making contact with the freezer air. For an airtight method of preparing fish or meat for the big freeze, a vacuum sealer is the perfect tool to have on hand. If not, there are plenty of alternatives.
How to Freeze Fish
Unless you plan on using the fish bones for future recipes like soup stocks, it's a good idea to clean, gut, and cut your fish into fillets or steaks before freezing. Once that's done, if you don't have a vacuum sealer available, wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap is an effective storage method. Another great method for freezing fish is coating them with an ice glaze. Place the fish pieces on a cookie sheet, unwrapped, and allow them to freeze in your freezer. Remove them, dip them into ice water, then place back in the freezer until the water hardens into ice. Repeat the process until a uniform coat of ice covers each piece, then wrap in freezer paper or place in a resealable bag and place them back in your freezer. Be aware that ice will gradually evaporate if it's left in the freezer for too long, so be sure to re-glaze if you plan on keeping your fish frozen for long periods of time.
Unfortunately not all fish are freezer-friendly. When it comes to the fattiest fish like mackerel or herring, it's best to just eat them as soon as possible. Since high body fat allows a fish to be resilient to cold temperatures, this means they don't keep well in the freezer. The fattier the fish, the better off you are eating it right away.
How to Freeze Game
Most popular game like deer, elk, and wild turkey keep extremely well in the freezer due to their low fat content. After butchering up your game, you can use a vacuum sealer or plastic wrap, but many hunters swear by good old-fashioned freezer paper. It's economical, easy to use, and very label-friendly. (Write the date, the cut, and maybe a quick note about how you'd like to prepare it.)
How Long Can You Freeze Fish and Game?
When it comes to frozen fish, the recommended time varies depending on the type. For lean fish like cod or flounder, you'll get the best results if you consume it within six months of freezing it. If you're dealing with fattier fish like trout or salmon, you'll want to eat them within three months.
Game meat has significantly more leeway. Some sources say consuming it within a year will yield best results; others say you've got as long as three years to enjoy it without noticeable quality loss. The recommended length of freeze time is primarily about maximizing the quality of the meat. Freezer-burned food isn't dangerous to eat – it's just not very tasty.
What's the Best Way to Thaw Game or Fish?
Thaw meat or fish safely by leaving it in your refrigerator overnight, or for quicker results, submerge it in cold water that you refresh every 30 minutes. Never thaw frozen meat or fish by microwaving it or leaving it out on a countertop – this will result in dangerous bacteria multiplying on its surface the moment it reaches room temperature.
If you've been meaning to get a chest freezer for your home to store fresh fish, game, or just some bulk-buy goods from your nearest grocery warehouse, P.C. Richard is the place to get one! Our selection of chest freezers includes a variety of sizes and capacities, all from today's hottest appliance brand names. For the best chest freezer at the guaranteed lowest prices, shop P.C. Richard & Son now!