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How to Select and Store Fresh Salmon

Updated on August 4, 2012
Fresh salmon fillet with skin
Fresh salmon fillet with skin | Source

People have been eating salmon ever since it was discovered in waters across the globe. This delicious fish has many health benefits and is readily available. Nowadays it is available and sold in many different forms, from fresh whole salmon to steaks or fillets to frozen, dried, canned and smoked salmon.

Selecting fresh salmon may feel daunting for the first time, however there's a few tips that will see you buying delicious salmon that will be the star of any meal.

Fresh Salmon - Fresher is Better

Now, this doesn't mean that frozen is a no-no, in-fact it means quite the opposite. The number one rule when buying fish is to get it as fresh as possible. Fish that has been frozen and recently thawed at the fish market is far fresher than the fresh fish that may have been sitting there for a few days.

When buying the whole fish or selecting from a whole fish, look for one that has bright clear eyes and clean red or pink gills. The fish should not smell "fishy" and should instead smell fresh like the sea it came from.

When buying fillets, the flesh should be very firm and together. If the flesh has a feathering appearance, scales that fall out or slimy skin this all indicates a potential problem.

The color of the flesh varies with each variety of salmon and is not as good of a quality indicator as the condition of the fillet is.

How to smell when salmon is bad

If you are able to smell the cut of fish you are buying, this will be your most determining factor. Salmon should smell sweet rather than "fishy" and will smell slightly salty. If it smells "fishy" take it as a sign to choose another option.

Wild Salmon
Wild Salmon | Source

Know the difference between wild caught and farm raised salmon

Wild caught salmon tends to be leaner and has a richer flavor, making it the more desirable premium product, however it is a more expensive choice. For a special occasion or a dish where salmon is the star, wild salmon will give you a better result - however, a good cut of farm raised salmon is still a good choice.

Many cuts of salmon are available as well as the whole fish - your choice will depend on what you're looking to do with the salmon and how many people you are serving.
Many cuts of salmon are available as well as the whole fish - your choice will depend on what you're looking to do with the salmon and how many people you are serving. | Source

How to choose a cut of salmon

A whole fish is great for a large group, however, taking a whole salmon and cutting it into fillets or steaks requires quite a bit of effort and isn't suitable for everyday family meals.

Prepared cuts from the fish market are generally steaks or fillets:
-The steaks are a cut taken vertically across the fish, usually about 1" in thickness and contain the bone.
- Salmon fillets are de-boned and sometimes un-skinned pieces from the sides of the salmon.

After purchasing: how to store salmon

Get your salmon home as quickly as possible, rinse under running water and re-wrap in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of foil. Store the salmon in the coldest part of your refrigerator and use within a day or so.


To freeze salmon, take the wrapped pieces and place them into a ziplock bag, sealing and removing any air. The frozen salmon will last in the freezer for 6 months and will retain it's taste and texture if stored properly. To defrost, place in your refrigerator the day before serving - be sure to smell the defrosted fish to make sure it is still fresh and does not smell "fishy"

Now that you know how to choose the perfect piece of Salmon, learn How to Bake Salmon at home and really enjoy what you've bought while while reaping the health benefits!

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    • Heather63 profile image

      Heather Adams 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Great info, especially the guides to making sure the fish is fresh. Thanks!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

      Finally got over here, Kristy~ Great info about one of my favorite foods!

    • kissayer profile image
      Author

      Kristy Sayer 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks Audrey :)

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