How To Defrost and Thaw Salmon

slices of salmon on crushed ice

It does not matter how many times you tell yourself to take the salmon out of the freezer before heading off to work or school, chances are you will forget. By the time you remember to take your salmon out of the fridge, you will be halfway to your destination.

This is why knowing how to defrost salmon is so important. You could have taken your salmon out the night before and thawed it in the fridge. Even if you forgot to take the fish out of the freezer, there are still two other ways you can defrost your frozen salmon.

Do I Have To Defrost Salmon Before Cooking It?

Whether or not you have to defrost salmon or not depends on the way you intend to cook it. If you are baking or poaching your salmon, there is no need to thaw it. The low temperature of the heat will cook the salmon evenly.

On the other hand, it’s not a good idea to cook frozen salmon using high heat on a kamado grill. The salmon must be thawed before grilling it, or it will cool unevenly. In addition to this, if your salmon has skin on it, even if you cook it, skin side down; the skin will not crisp up. Furthermore, it is hard to season frozen salmon as the seasonings will not adhere to the fish in its frozen state.

How To Buy Salmon Fillets

When purchasing fresh salmon, remember it should always have a bright pink or orange color. If your salmon turns a darker color, it is an indicator that it is about to spoil or is already spoiled.

Moreover, the salmon should have some elasticity. Fresh salmon will have a dent in it when pressed with your fingertips, but it should quickly spring back to its original state. If the salmon has white veins that are bright and free of any brown spots, it is fresh salmon.

Lastly, fresh salmon will have free of any black spots and unpleasant aromas.

How To Store Salmon

Salmon can either be stored in the fridge or freezer. If you intend to cook your salmon on the same day it was purchased, store it in the fridge. Salmon stored in the fridge is good for 24 hours.

On the other hand, if you o not intend to cook your salmon right away, it’s best to freeze the salmon. Salmon has a shelf life of 2-3 months when stored correctly in the freezer.

How To Freeze Salmon At Home Safely

Yes, you can place salmon in the freezer in its original packaging. If you way to extend salmon’s shelf life, it’s best to follow these guidelines.

First, rinse the salmon fillets. You can also rinse the salmon with a diluted saltwater solution. Pat salmon fillets dry, then wrap them tightly with plastic wrap.

Place the salmon fillets into a freezer-safe resealable bag, label the salmon with the date and freeze it. The salmon will last for 3 months in the freezer.

Safety Tips For Defrosting Salmon

For many, the main goal of defrosting salmon is to thaw it as fast as possible. However, the goal should be to thaw the salmon as quickly and safely as possible.

Salmon contains bacteria like most raw meats such as ground beef, turkey, and shrimp. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to tell whether or not salmon contains dangerous bacteria with the naked eye. Nevertheless, bacteria found on salmon can cause food poisoning.

A common misconception about freezing salmon is that it neutralizes bacteria as grilling does. However, this is not true.

Cold temperatures do not neutralize bacteria. Cold temperatures act as an anesthetic that sends the bacteria into hibernation, preventing them from multiplying. The minute your salmon starts to defrost, the bacteria will awaken and begin to multiply rapidly.

Bacteria multiply exponentially at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F (temperature danger zone). Therefore, do not leave your salmon fillets at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

If your salmon came vacuum-sealed, remove it from its packaging and place the salmon into a resealable plastic bag. It sounds strange, but if you leave the salmon in its original packaging botulism, a foodborne pathogen may develop.

Botulism flourishes in environments with minimal amounts of oxygen, such as the vacuum-sealed package that your salmon came in. Placing the salmon into another bag will expose it to oxygen and prevent bacteria from making you sick.

Can I Cook Salmon From Frozen?

Just like you can cook steak from frozen, you can cook salmon from frozen. Surprising, I know, but as long as the salmon is cooked to the correct temperature, it is safe to eat.

In terms of food safety, cooking food from frozen is safer than cooking defrosted food. The fish will spend a few minutes in the temperature danger zone. Therefore, bacteria will not be an issue if you cook salmon from frozen.

The only drawback of cooking salmon from frozen is that it will take 50% longer to cook the fish.

How To Defrost Salmon

Ever noticed how most of the salmon sold in your local grocery store is frozen? Salmon is highly perishable.

For this reason, salmon is usually frozen before they are sold. Due to this, most companies advise you to freeze the salmon as soon as you get home if you are not going to use it the same day you purchased it.

Therefore, it is imperative you learn how to defrost salmon. Luckily, defrosting salmon is as easy as reheating salmon. Best of all, there are 3 different ways to defrost your salmon.

How To Defrost Salmon In The Fridge

To defrost your salmon in the fridge, remove it from the fridge 12 hours before you intend to cook it. If you are preparing more than one pound of salmon, remove it from the freezer at least 24 hours in advance before cooking it.

If you stored your salmon in a resealable bag, remove it from the bag and arrange it in a shallow bowl. The shallow bowl will catch any liquid that is released from the salmon as it defrosts.

Place the salmon into the refrigerator away on a lower, flat shelf away from all other foods. If you store your salmon near other foods, the food could absorb the aroma of the salmon.

Furthermore, make sure your is at a temperature between 35°F-140°F to prevent the growth of bacteria. Cook the salmon immediately after you remove it from the fridge.

If your salmon has a lot of ice on it, run cold water over it until the chunks of ice are removed. Cover the salmon with plastic wrap, then arrange it in a shallow bowl and defrost it in the fridge for 6-12 hours.

How To Defrost Salmon In Cold Water

To defrost the salmon in cold water, remove it from the freezer. Place the salmon fillets into a large plastic bag. Place the salmon into a bowl that is large enough to submerge the salmon in the water.

Alternatively, you can also thaw your salmon in the sink. However, you cannot use the sink for anything else while you are defrosting the salmon.

Fill your bowl with cold water until the salmon is submerged. If your salmon fillets float to the top, place a heavy plate on top of the salmon fillets to keep them submerged in the water.

It takes 30 minutes to defrost a pound of salmon. If your salmon is not thawed after 30 minutes, replace the water and continue to thaw it for another 30 minutes.

Remove the fish from the cold water after it is completely thawed and cook it immediately.

How To Defrost Salmon In The Microwave

Defrosting salmon in the microwave is the fastest way to thaw it. Simply remove your frozen salmon from its original packaging.

Place the salmon onto a microwave-safe plate in a layer. Cover the salmon with a paper towel, heat-safe plastic wrap, or a microwave cover to prevent the salmon juices from spattering all over the microwave. Alternatively, you can also place the salmon fillets into a microwave-safe ziplock bag.

Use your microwaves defrost setting to thaw the salmon. If your microwave does not have a defrost setting, thaw the salmon on 30% power. Thaw the salmon in 30-second intervals for 3-5 minutes, flipping the salmon over and rotating the plate every 30 seconds.

Remove the salmon from the microwave and allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes. The carryover heat will continue to defrost the salmon and prevent it from overcooking. Cook the salmon immediately after thawing in the microwave.

Final Thoughts

Salmon is famous for its unique and fresh mild flavor. It’s no wonder it is one of the most popular types of fish.

Truth be told, you will be missing out if you do not fire up your natural gas grill and BBQ salmon at least once. However, knowing how to defrost salmon the right way is essential if you want to prepare this fish.

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