Fresh Seafood vs. Frozen Seafood

Questions and Answers – Fresh Seafood vs. Frozen Seafood

Information for this page came from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.


When people ask “Is the seafood fresh?” what they really mean is “Is it good quality?”  It may come as a surprise, but the best quality seafood is often frozen. Seafood quality cannot be improved once it leaves the water, it can only be maintained.  Therefore, Alaska has chosen high technology freezing as a superior method of preserving its seafood the minute it leaves the water.

The watchwords for maintaining seafood quality are time, temperature and cleanliness.  As time passes and ambient temperature climbs, bacterial growth increases, seafood quality diminishes, and eventually spoils.  Seafood, like other foods, needs to be frozen very quickly to prevent cellular damage.  Alaska seafood is rapidly chilled down and held at 32 degrees F. until it is flash frozen at a temperature no higher than – 20 degrees F. and protected from dehydration by glazing (a covering of water that forms a protective sheet of ice).  Alaska seafood is held or transported at below 0 degrees F. for a resulting product that tastes every bit as fresh as the day it left the water.  Numerous studies have shown that most consumers cannot tell the difference between high quality frozen seafood and quality fresh seafood.


How To Purchase Seafood:

At the grocery store you will find fresh-frozen Alaska seafood in two places in the frozen foods department and at the seafood counter.  When purchasing frozen seafood, look for solidly frozen packages.  Do not buy fish or shellfish that is stored above the chill line of the case.  Do not buy seafood with freezer burns, or icy white discoloration.

When purchasing fresh or thawed Alaska seafood from the seafood counter, let your eyes and nose be the judge.  Good quality seafood smells sea fresh.  It should not have a strong odor or smell “fishy.”  Fish fillets and steaks should appear moist, firm and freshly cut.  Shellfish should be bright in color with no discoloration or dryness.  Prepackaged seafood should contain only a minimum of liquid.


How To Store Seafood:

Do not allow frozen seafood to thaw until you are ready to use it.  Refreezing seafood will severely alter its quality.  Wrap seafood in moisture-proof paper or enclose in an airtight container.  Do not store seafood wrapped only in waxed paper or plastic wrap.

Frozen Alaska cod, halibut, Alaska pollock and rockfish may be stored up to 6 months in a home freezer at 0 degrees F. or lower.  For best quality, frozen Alaska sable fish and salmon may be stored up to 4 months in a home freezer at 0 degrees F. or lower.


How To Thaw Seafood:

It is best to thaw seafood overnight in the refrigerator.  Place the wrapped package on a plate or shallow pan to catch any liquid that drips out.  Allow 8 to 10 hours (extremely large cuts may take a bit longer).  Do not try to speed up the process of thawing seafood.  Never allow seafood to thaw at room temperature or place it in warm water to thaw.  Flavor and texture are both lost this way.



Check out What’s Cooking article on How To Select, Buy, and Cook Quality Fish and Seafood.

Internal Temperature Chart for cooking fish and seafood.

Lots of delicious Fish and Seafood Recipes.



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