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LEARNING CORNER

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How to freeze smoked salmon keeping its taste intact?

Salmon, a trivial name for several ray-finned fishes, is a very popular food across the world. It is classified as an oily fish and is a rich source of potent nutrients like proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. On the other hand, smoked salmon i.e. a delicacy refers to the fish fillet which is smoked and cured.

Smoking is done for the preservation of the fish against microbial destruction. It includes curing and partial dehydration of the fish which hinder the activity of microbes. In addition, the heat treatment during the process of smoking kills these microbes keeping the fish safe against spoilage.

Smoked salmon has been very common among Greeks, Romans, and Native Americans since ages. It was usually served at large gatherings and celebrations. People are often confused about the nutritional importance of smoked fish. Like salmon, smoked salmon is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, it has a high sodium content which prevents microbial growth and activity as well.

Smoking was a common process for preserving food before refrigeration was introduced and salmon is the most smoker-friendly fish ever known. The Native Americans and Canadians, living at the Pacific coast, were well-known to this fact and preserved their catch through this process. They would cut fish fillets, coat them with salt, and dress them over a blazing fire. In this way, the fish was gently cooked and smoked simultaneously.

It is an undoubted fact that the delicious taste of smoked salmon has never died with time. Even today, people love the smoky flavor of salmon and often buy it in bulk quantity. One of the common concerns of such people is that if they can freeze smoked salmon, the answer to which is definitely yes. Freezing adds to the shelf life of smoked salmon. When you keep it in the refrigerator, it has a shelf life of about two months. In case of longer storage, a freezer would work the best. Freezing can help you store the smoked fish for about six months, keeping the taste intact.

Smoked salmon can be frozen for sure. However, freezing can be both successful and disastrous. In order to make the freezing go successful and keeping the taste and flavor intact, there are some simple tricks one needs to follow.

Freeze it immediately

The standard practice is to freezethe fish as soon as you catch or buy it. But it should be kept in mind that repeated freezing can degrade the meat. This is because freezing turns the water molecules into tiny daggers inside the fish and consequently, the fibrous muscle strands are cut. Therefore, repeated freezing can deteriorate the fish flesh. In addition, refreezing also permits bacteria to grow and spoil food.

Preparation for freezing

For successful freezing, there is a whole process of preparing the fish which includes,

  1. Cutting
  2. Packaging
  3. Labeling

While freezing there are two choices, either leave the fish whole or cut into pieces and freeze. Note that when you defrost the whole fish, it should be used in the first time. Using some of it and refreezing the other might spoil the remaining fish. It is better to cut the fish into pieces matching your serving size so that you only defrost the quantity you could eat in one time. Also, smaller pieces are easy to freeze and store.      

Proper wrapping is a must

It must be noted that air is the biggest enemy during freezing because it causes oxidation. As a result, the flavor of the food is lost and eventually, it spoils. Thus, wrapping is the most important step while freezing. Improper packing leads to loss of texture, flavor, it lets the air in and food eventually spoils. Before wrapping, brush both sides of the fish with olive oil gently. This will possibly lock the flavor and protect the fish from freezer burn.

There are various simple yet time-consuming methods for proper packing of the fish. One of them is wrapping it into two layers of plastic wrap. For this purpose, fold the plastic wrap in such a way that it secures all the edges of the fish and no air remains between the flesh and the wrap. Now, pack the wrapped salmon into freezer paper. For better results, a vacuum sealer can also be opted. It works with a special type of plastic wrap and vacuums all the air out while the package is sealed.

Containers such as boxes and bowls are never a good option for packing the salmon. This is because they have a significant amount of air circulating inside which could consequently cause freezer burn.

Label the package properly

Label the wrapped package properly. It is crucial to mention the date of freezing and the content of the packaging. It can save you from future inconveniences.

Thaw properly before use

When you need to use the frozen salmon, you’ll have to defrost it. For that purpose, it is advised not to opt for an easy way out like defrosting using a microwave or warm water. This is because it can ruin the texture and taste of the fish. If you want to enjoy the true taste of the smoked salmon, try to defrost it using a proper way. One of the most appropriate ways of defrosting is thawing. It restores both the taste and texture if done properly.

The proper way of thawing is to keep the fish in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40oF. Remove one layer of the wrap and put the salmon in a bowl and keep it in the refrigerator away from the foods that could absorb its smell. The duration of the thawing depends on the size of the package. It can last up to 24 hours. After complete thawing, you can prepare the dish as per your choice.  

Smoked salmon is a great treat only if you cook or store it properly. Not only the taste but it has great nutritional content as well. It can be a delicious and healthful addition to your favorite dish list!

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