Fresh seafood can make a great addition to your family’s meals. Getting the most out of seafood, however, means that you will need to learn how to keep seafood fresh and safe to eat. Follow these four tips to keep your family satisfied without putting them in harm’s way.
1. Only Buy Fresh Seafood
Image via Flickr by Beth Rankin
It’s always best to purchase fresh seafood. It’s not only healthier, but it offers a better flavor that your family will love. When shopping locally, choose stores that have seafood departments where you can buy live fish, lobsters, and other options. Chilled fish is your second-best option.
If you absolutely have to buy frozen seafood, avoid packages kept near the top of the freezer. That’s the warmest part of the freezer, so there’s a higher chance of getting seafood that tastes a bit off.
Since you can buy fresh lobster online, though, you don’t have many excuses for choosing frozen seafood. Just order online and have live lobster delivered right to your door.
2. Keep Your Seafood Cold Until You Prepare It
You want to keep seafood under 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so put it in your refrigerator’s coldest spot. You can use a thermometer to find the coolest area of your refrigerator. If you don’t want to bother checking with the temperature, store seafood on the top shelf as close to the cold air outlet as possible.
You can also keep seafood safe by storing it on ice, which is how most grocery stores do it. If you choose to use ice, it’s important to check the temperature with a thermometer. You don’t want to give seafood any chances to spoil. A thermometer is the only way to determine whether the ice is keeping your seafood cold enough for it to stay safe during storage.
3. Use Fresh Seafood as Soon as Possible
Seafood doesn’t stay fresh forever. The sooner you use it, the better it will taste. There are some general guidelines you can use to determine when it’s best to throw out seafood instead of trying to salvage it.
- Use live lobster the day you get it.
- Only keep fish in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.
- Cook live mussels and clams within three days.
- Oysters give you more leeway, but you should still serve them within seven to 10 days.
Plan your shopping trips so you have time to make seafood before it goes bad. Even refrigerated seafood will start to taste funny after a few days. When that happens, you should throw it out and start over. Planning ahead will save you time and money while keeping your family safe.
4. Use Separate Utensils While Cooking
Fresh seafood is only healthy when you protect it from cross contamination. If you’re preparing seafood, vegetables, and meat, you should use separate utensils for each type of item. That means keeping a different knife, cutting board, and plate. If your utensils touch multiple items, you increase the risk of cross contamination. That could make your family members seriously ill.
How much experience do you have preparing fresh seafood? Which of these tips do you think is most important for preparing delicious recipes while also protecting your family’s health?