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Tilapia is a farmed fish that can’t be found in the wild. It is very popular in the United States.
This flakey white fish has a mild flavor, is high in protein, and low in fat and calories. Tilapia is a very affordable fish and is the fourth most popular fish in the United States.
When you find tilapia on sale you might be wondering if you can freeze it or not. What about after its cooked? Can you still freeze it then?
So whether your tilapia is raw or cooked you can absolutely freeze it if you so desire. In most cases frozen tilapia will last up to a year before it’s cooked and up to 3-6 months after it is cooked.
These time frames are only for the best taste. You could still eat your tilapia after this time and not have to worry about getting sick but the taste and texture of the fish will be affected.
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Is It Better To Freeze Raw Or Cooked Fish?
The most important thing about storing fish is to make sure that you handle and store it properly to avoid contaminating it. If handled improperly fish can develop bacteria such as E. coli which can cause food poisoning.
Both cooked and raw fish can be stored in the freezer but which is the better way to store your fish?
Both raw fish and cooked fish hold up well in the freezer so the preference of if you should freeze it raw or cooked truly comes down to your own personal preference.
Raw fish can be stored in the freezer for three to eight months while cooked fish can be kept in the freezer for only three months. Again this is for the best taste and texture so if your fish has been in the freezer longer it will still be good just not taste as good.
What Is The Best Way To Freeze Fresh Fish?
There are a few different methods when freezing fresh fish. Fish should always be frozen to zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
The first thing you need to decide is how you are going to freeze your fish. Do you want to freeze it whole, in fillets, large cuts, or steaks?
Once you have decided on what cuts of fish you want to freeze you can look below to see what freezing methods work great for which cuts.
The first way to freeze fresh fish is to double wrap it. This method works great for fillets, whole fish, and fish steaks.
This will save freezer storage space and the fish will thaw quickly when you are ready to use them. You will need cling wrap as well as freezer bags or aluminum foil.
First wrap your fish tightly in cling wrap. Then you will wrap it once more. Once you have each individual piece of fish wrapped in cling wrap, you will then place these pieces into a freezer safe plastic storage bag or wrap it in aluminum foil.
Do not store more than one pound of fish in each Ziploc bag or foil packet.
Keeping the amount of fish to one pound or less per package will allow the fish to freeze quickly. If you are using plastic freezer bags you will need to make certain that you remove all the excess air from the bag before you place it in the freezer.
You can stack the fish on top of each other when placing them in the freezer. Just try not to stack too many of them on top of each other.
The second method for freezing fish is to freeze the fish in a block of ice. This method will take up more space in your freezer but it will also protect your fish from any possible air exposure as the air will not be able to penetrate the block of ice.
This freezing method works better on smaller pieces of fish such as fillets and steaks. While this method does protect fish from the possibility of freezer burn it does take up more freezer space and takes more time to defrost the fish.
You will first need to select the right size freezer safe container. You do not want your container to be too large as it will take longer to freeze and then to later defrost. Each container should only be big enough to hold enough fish for one meal.
Cut your fish into serving size pieces and place them into the container. You will need to leave at least one inch of space between the fish and the lid, this will give plenty of room as the water expands during the freezing process.
Next, you will cover the fish with cold water. Finally, place the container in the freezer so that it is sitting level. Allow the water time to freeze.
Once the water has frozen you will want to open your container to make sure that the fish is completely frozen inside of the ice. If the fish lifted to the surface of the water while it was freezing and part of it is now outside of the block of ice just put a little more water into the container and allow it to freeze.
Once your fish is completely frozen in a block of ice you will want to remove it from the container and double wrap it in cling wrap or aluminum foil. Then place it inside of a freezer safe plastic bag.
You can place it back into the container that you had frozen it in once it has been wrapped.
The last method for freezing fresh fish is called glazing. Glazing is when the fish is covered in a thick layer of ice, this protects it from air exposure.
Glazing is a great method for whole fish or large cuts of fish. You will need to lay the fish unwrapped in a single layer on a baking sheet and place that in the freezer.
Once the fish are frozen solid you will need to take each frozen piece of fish and dip it into a bowl of cold water. Then place the fish back on the baking sheet and put it back into the freezer until frozen once again.
You will need to repeat this process until there is a layer of ice about an eighth of an inch thick. Once you have a thick layer of ice on the fish you will place it in a freezer safe plastic bag or a freezer safe container and place it back in the freezer.
If the fish remains in the freezer for a while you will want to check the glaze on it to make sure that the process does not need to be repeated later on.
To freeze cooked fish all you need to do is put it in a shallow container or in a freezer safe bag with the excess air removed. You will want to eat the cooked fish within three to six months for the best taste and texture.