How Should Seafood Be Stored?

Good Questions

Q: I have been told by my mother and others that under no circumstances should seafood be stored directly on ice, but rather that there should always be a barrier (i.e. fish in plastic bags nestled on ice; fish on metal tray on ice), since direct contact with ice/water will degrade the texture of the seafood.

Yet I often encounter seafood placed directly on ice in markets or at the fishmonger. Can you clear this up for me?

Sent by CatherineEditor: We checked with On Food & Cooking and Cook's Illustrated to see if we could find an answer for you. As far as we can tell, fresh fish and other seafood should be stored on or under ice in the refrigerator to keep it as close to 32° as possible, which maintains its freshness and flavor for several days.

However, water can leech the flavor of fresh seafood, so it's important to keep the fish away from melted ice water. You can replace the ice frequently, use a storage container that allows for drainage of melted water, or protect the fish from direct contact with water in a zip-lock bag or plastic wrap. (Live shellfish shouldn't be wrapped in plastic or they will suffocate.)

Does anyone else have anything to add?

Related: Good Fish, Bad Fish: How to Inspect a Fish for Freshness

(Image: Kleer Ice Supplies)

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