How Long Can Raw Fish Stay In The Fridge? Keep Your Seafood Fresh With These Tips

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Keeping seafood fresh is crucial in ensuring that you are getting the best flavors out of your dish. One way to achieve this is by storing raw fish properly until it’s ready for cooking.

But how long can raw fish stay in the fridge?

This question has been asked countless times, and for a good reason! Whether you’re an expert chef or simply trying out a new recipe, knowing the shelf life of your ingredients is essential. Raw fish can quickly go bad if not stored correctly, which may lead to food poisoning and other health concerns.

In this article, we will provide helpful tips on how you can keep your fish fresh and edible for longer periods in the refrigerator. You will learn about the different types of fishes, their storage requirements, what to look for when buying raw fish, and more!

“Freshness is key to a delicious seafood meal. Follow these tips and discover how simple it is to extend the shelf life of your raw fish in the fridge.”

With our help, you’ll never have to worry about throwing away spoiled raw fish again. Read on and become a pro at keeping your seafood fresh.

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Understanding the Shelf Life of Raw Fish in the Fridge

If you’re a fan of seafood, chances are you’ve had to store raw fish in your fridge before. But how long can raw fish stay in the fridge before it goes bad? It’s essential to understand the shelf life of raw fish to avoid foodborne illnesses and ensure that you enjoy safe and delicious seafood.

What is the shelf life of raw fish in the fridge?

The shelf life of raw fish in the fridge depends on several factors. The type of fish, its quality when bought, and storage conditions all influence how long raw fish will last in the fridge. On average, fresh raw fish should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within two days. However, some types of fish like tuna or salmon may last up to three days if appropriately stored. Nevertheless, seafood like shrimp, scallops, oysters, and other crustaceans should be eaten within one day after purchase.

How can you extend the shelf life of raw fish in the fridge?

If you want to make sure that your raw fish lasts as long as possible before going bad, there are steps you can take. One way to prolong the shelf life of raw fish is to keep it refrigerated at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit immediately after buying it. You can also store it in an airtight container that will maintain the right level of humidity. Additionally, wrap raw fish in plastic, aluminum foil, or parchment paper, so it doesn’t come into contact with other foods in the fridge, preventing cross-contamination.

Avoid storing raw fish near other strong-smelling foods like onions and garlic. Fish can quickly absorb these odors and cause it to taste different from what you expected. If you have leftover cooked fish, put it in a shallow container and place it in the fridge no longer than three to four days after preparing it.

Why is it important to understand the shelf life of raw fish in the fridge?

The shelf life of raw fish in the refrigerator can have significant implications for your health. Raw or inadequately cooked seafood that has been kept beyond its shelf life may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of seafood-related food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, weakness, headache, dizziness, and dehydration.

“Food poisoning from contaminated seafood is more prevalent than we think since some types of bacteria aren’t detectable through sight, smell, or taste,” says Dr. Pritish Tosh, Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist.

If you experience any adverse effects after consuming raw fish, contact your doctor or seek medical attention right away. Always remember to follow safety and storage guidelines carefully when handling raw fish, eating seafood at restaurants or buying it from grocery stores.

  • Only purchase fresh, high-quality fish from reputable sources
  • Check the use-by date before purchasing pre-packaged seafood products
  • Store raw fish in the coldest part of your refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit until ready to prepare it
  • Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of fish while cooking (minimum 145 degrees F)
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

By following these simple precautions, you can minimize your exposure to foodborne illnesses and safely enjoy flavorful seafood dishes at home without worry.

Factors That Affect the Freshness of Raw Fish in the Fridge

If you’re a seafood lover, then it’s essential to know how long raw fish can stay fresh in the fridge. While it’s tempting to purchase large amounts of fish when they are on sale, storing them incorrectly can lead to spoiled and potentially dangerous food. Several factors affect the freshness of raw fish in the fridge.


The ideal temperature for storing raw fish is between 32°F (0°C) and 39°F (4°C). At this temperature range, harmful bacteria fail to grow, keeping the fish fresh for an extended period. However, it’s essential to note that not all fridges maintain the recommended temperature. In some instances, the temperature inside the fridge might fluctuate, causing the fish to spoil faster than usual. You should always use a thermometer to monitor the temperature inside your fridge and ensure that it stays within the safe range.


Humidity levels also play a crucial role in determining how fresh your raw fish will remain while stored in the fridge. Ideally, the humidity level in the fridge should be maintained at around 90 percent. Higher humidity helps keep the fish from drying out and prevents freezer burn. Therefore, if the atmosphere in your refrigerator is too dry, consider placing a small container of water in there to increase moisture content. Alternatively, you can place the fish inside an airtight plastic bag with a damp cloth or paper towel to retain moisture.


Adequate airflow is essential in maintaining the freshness of raw fish in the fridge. Without proper ventilation, your fish could develop an unpleasant smell and taste due to trapped moisture. It’s always advisable to store your fish in perforated plastic bags or containers that allow for air circulation.

Quality of the fish

The quality of the fish is a significant factor in determining how long it can remain fresh while stored in the fridge. Fresh fish should have bright, clear eyes, and firm flesh that bounces back when pressed. If you’re purchasing fish from a grocery store or seafood market, always check the expiry date and ensure that the fish has been appropriately handled and stored. Additionally, avoid buying fish that appears to be slimy, smells foul, or has discolored skin as these are signs that the fish might not be fit for human consumption.

“If you don’t eat your seafood on the day you buy it, it won’t last another day. That means at most two nights in the refrigerator and one in the freezer if sealed right.” -Andrew Zimmern

Properly storing raw fish in the fridge is essential to maintaining its freshness and safety for consumption. Factors such as temperature, humidity levels, airflow, and the quality of the fish all play significant roles in keeping your fish safe to eat. Understanding how to store fish correctly can also go a long way in preventing food waste and saving money in the process.

Proper Storage Techniques to Keep Raw Fish Fresh for Longer

Knowing how long raw fish can stay in the fridge is crucial to keep it fresh and safe for consumption. It’s imperative that you store your raw fish properly in order to avoid contamination, spoilage, and bad odors.

Wrap the fish properly

The first step in storing raw fish in the fridge is to wrap it well. Wrap the entire fish or fillet tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it inside a Ziploc bag. This will protect it from moisture and air, which are two of the main causes of spoilage. Properly wrapped fish can last up to 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

“Fish should be tightly wrapped in waxed paper or plastic wrap and kept on ice when stored at home.” – FDA

Store the fish in the coldest part of the fridge

Fish is highly perishable so it’s important to store it in the coldest part of the refrigerator, usually between 32° F and 38° F (0° C and 3.3° C). For most fridges, this means putting the wrapped fish in the back where the temperature is cooler. Avoid putting it near the door as it’s the warmest part of the fridge due to frequent opening and closing.

“Keep refrigerated at 40°F (4°C) or below” – USDA

Keep the fish away from other foods

Cross-contamination can happen easily if you don’t properly separate raw fish from other food items. This can not only ruin the taste of your food but also cause various illnesses. Always put the wrapped fish in a clean container, preferably in a sealed Ziploc bag, and keep it away from ready-to-eat foods.

“Place seafood on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to prevent raw juices from dripping onto other foods.” – USDA

Use the fish as soon as possible

The longer you store raw fish in the fridge, the higher the risk that bacteria can develop and cause food poisoning. If you’re not planning to use your fish within 2-3 days, consider freezing them instead. Freshly thawed fish should be cooked immediately because they should never sit out after thawing.

“When refrigerating or freezing fish, keep it fresh by handling carefully; don’t jiggle the package unnecessarily or take the product back and forth between freezer and refrigerator.” – FDA

Storing raw fish properly can help prolong its freshness and maintain its quality. Following these storage techniques will protect you and your family from potential health risks caused by contaminated or spoiled fish. Remember that proper storing methods are just as important as buying high-quality fresh fish.

Safety Precautions to Follow When Storing Raw Fish in the Fridge

Raw fish is a delicious and nutritious addition to any meal, but it’s important to handle and store it properly to avoid foodborne illness. If you’re wondering how long raw fish can stay in the fridge, the answer depends on several factors, including the type of fish, its freshness, and how it’s stored.

Wash your hands before handling the fish

One of the most important safety precautions when handling raw fish is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after touching it. This helps to prevent the transfer of bacteria from your hands onto the fish, which can cause food poisoning if ingested.

You should also avoid touching other surfaces or objects while preparing the fish, such as phones, doorknobs, or utensils that haven’t been properly sanitized.

Use clean utensils and cutting boards

Another key safety precaution is to use clean utensils and cutting boards when preparing raw fish. Cross-contamination can occur if you use the same knife or cutting board to prepare other foods, such as vegetables or meat, without washing them first. It’s recommended to have separate cutting boards and knives specifically designated for seafood to avoid cross-contamination.

You should also sanitize your cutting boards and utensils before and after each use by washing them in hot soapy water or running them through the dishwasher. You can also disinfect them with a solution of one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water.

Store the fish in a leak-proof container

When storing raw fish in the fridge, it’s important to use a leak-proof container to prevent any juices from spilling out and contaminating other foods. The container should be sealed tightly and placed on a shelf near the bottom of the fridge where it’s coldest, around 32-34°F.

Raw fish can typically last in the fridge for up to two days if stored properly. However, certain types of fish, such as salmon and tuna, may only last one day due to their high oil content, which can spoil more quickly. If you’re not planning on using the fish within this time frame, it’s best to freeze it instead.

Following these safety precautions when handling and storing raw fish can help prevent foodborne illness and ensure that your meals are delicious and safe to eat. By washing your hands, using clean utensils and cutting boards, and storing the fish in a leak-proof container, you can enjoy all the nutritional benefits of seafood without having to worry about getting sick.

How to Tell If Raw Fish in the Fridge Has Gone Bad

Check the smell

One of the easiest ways to tell if raw fish has gone bad is by checking its smell. Fresh fish should have a mild, oceanic scent that smells clean and fresh. However, if the fish has an overpowering odor or smells sour, it could be an indication that it is spoiled.

According to Seafood Health Facts, “Fish should not have any ‘off’ or strong odors that are easily detectable.” The website also advises consumers to avoid consuming fish that smells rancid or ammonia-like because these odors indicate bacterial spoilage.

Look for slimy or discolored skin

In addition to smelling bad, spoiled fish may appear slimy or have changes in color on its skin. Fresh fish should have shiny, firm skin with bright, clear eyes. On the other hand, spoiled fish may have cloudy eyes, dull skin, and feel slimey to the touch.

The National Fisheries Institute says that one of the primary signs that fish has gone bad is a change in appearance. It states, “Spoiled fish will typically oozesink into itself and become mushy or smelly.”

Check for cloudy eyes

As mentioned above, cloudy eyes can be a sign that raw fish is no longer safe to consume. Cloudy eyes occur when the protective mucus layer covering the fish’s eye evaporates, leaving the eye exposed. This exposes the eye to air and bacteria growth, which leads to cloudiness.

ChefSteps notes that while cloudy eyes can sometimes occur naturally in certain species of fish like tuna and swordfish, they are usually a sign of spoilage. ChefSteps advises consumers to avoid consuming any fish that has cloudy eyes even if they would usually occur naturally in the species.

It is crucial to be able to tell when raw fish has gone bad to prevent foodborne illness. Consumers can use their sense of smell, sight, and touch to determine whether or not frozen fish should be thrown away. While frozen fish can last up to 6 months, you should always check for signs of spoilage before consuming it.

Alternative Ways to Store Raw Fish If You Can’t Refrigerate It

Raw fish is a highly perishable food item and needs to be treated with utmost care to prevent bacterial growth and spoilage. Normally, raw fish should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh and safe for consumption. But what if you are away from your fridge and don’t have access to one? Here are some alternative ways to store raw fish if you can’t refrigerate it.

Freezing the Fish

One of the best ways to preserve raw fish without refrigeration is by freezing it. Freezing slows down the natural process of decay by reducing water activity and inhibiting bacterial growth. When frozen at 0 °F (-18°C) or below, most types of fish can last from six to twelve months before developing freezer burn or losing flavor.

  • Clean and dry the fish thoroughly, removing any scales, bones, or entrails.
  • Wrap each portion of fish in plastic wrap or aluminum foil tightly, pressing out as much air as possible.
  • Label each package with the type of fish, date, and weight.
  • Place the packages in the freezer, making sure that they are not stacked on top of each other and have enough space to freeze evenly.

Note: Frozen fish should be thawed properly before cooking to avoid uneven cooking and loss of texture. Thawing in the fridge overnight is the safest method, but you can also use cold running water or the microwave.

Preserving the Fish in Salt

Another way to keep raw fish fresh without refrigeration is by preserving it in salt. Salting has been used for centuries as a natural method of preservation and can be done with either dry salt or brine solution. Salt works by drawing out moisture from the fish, dehydrating the bacteria that cause spoilage, and creating an inhospitable environment for them to grow.

To preserve raw fish in salt:

  • Clean and gut the fish, leaving the skin intact.
  • Rub coarse sea salt generously over all sides of the fish, including the cavity. The amount of salt depends on the size and thickness of the fish – use about 1 lb (450 g) of salt per 4 lbs (1.8 kg) of fish.
  • Place the salted fish in a shallow dish, cover it loosely with plastic wrap or cheesecloth, and let it cure in a cool, dry place for at least 24 hours or up to one week.
  • Rinse off excess salt under cold running water and pat the fish dry with paper towels.
  • The salted fish can be eaten as-is or cooked in various ways, such as grilling, frying, or poaching.

Note: Salted fish is quite salty and may require soaking in cold water or milk before cooking to remove some of the saltiness. Refrigeration is still recommended if you plan to store the fish for more than a few days after salting.

Smoking the Fish

Smoking is another traditional way of preserving raw fish without refrigeration. Smoking not only imparts a delicious smoky flavor to the fish but also exposes it to heat and smoke that kill bacteria and parasites. Smoked fish can last for several weeks if stored properly and kept away from moisture and direct sunlight.

  • Clean and fillet the fish, removing the bones and skin if desired.
  • Make a brine solution by dissolving 1 cup (240 ml) of salt and ½ cup (120 g) of sugar in 1 quart (1 liter) of water. You can also add spices or herbs to flavor the brine.
  • Submerge the fish fillets in the brine for at least one hour or up to four hours in the fridge. Make sure that all parts of the fish are covered with brine.
  • Rinse off excess brine under cold running water and transfer the fillets onto a smoker rack or grill pan lined with oiled parchment paper.
  • Smoke the fish over wood chips or sawdust until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) or is cooked through. The smoking time varies depending on the type and size of the fish – plan for at least two hours.
  • Let the smoked fish cool completely before wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and storing it in a dry, cool place.

Note: Smoking should be done outdoors or in a well-ventilated area due to the possible health hazards associated with smoke inhalation. Eating raw or undercooked smoked fish may increase the risk of foodborne illness, especially for vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, young children, elderly adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Curing the Fish

Curing is a process that involves applying salt along with sugar, spices, herbs, or other seasonings to raw fish to enhance its flavor and texture while preserving it. Cured fish can last for several days without refrigeration and can be used in salads, sandwiches, sushi, and other dishes.

  • Clean and fillet the fish, removing the bones and skin if desired.
  • Mix equal parts of coarse sea salt and granulated sugar in a bowl. You can also add your preferred spices or herbs to the mixture for extra flavor.
  • Spread a layer of the salt-sugar mixture on the bottom of a glass dish or container that fits the size of the fish fillets.
  • Place the fish fillets on top of the mixture, skin side down, and cover them completely with another layer of the mixture. Press down firmly to ensure even coverage.
  • Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap or foil and let it sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. The longer you keep the fish in the cure, the firmer and more flavorful it becomes.
  • Rinse off excess cure under cold running water and pat the fish dry with paper towels.
  • The cured fish can be eaten as-is or lightly smoked, cooked, or grilled before serving.

Note: Cured fish contains high levels of sodium and may not be suitable for people with certain health conditions such as hypertension or heart disease. Store cured fish in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to three days after curing.

“When storing perishable food without refrigeration, it is important to use safe food handling practices and monitor the temperature, humidity, and cleanliness of the storage environment to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.” -USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

While refrigeration is the most convenient and effective way to store raw fish, there are other methods that can be used in a pinch. Freezing, salting, smoking, and curing all have their pros and cons depending on the type of fish, the duration of storage, and the desired flavor and texture. Always remember to use fresh, high-quality fish and follow proper food safety guidelines when handling and preparing it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can sushi grade raw fish stay in the fridge?

Sushi grade raw fish should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. If kept in the fridge, it should be consumed within 24 hours to ensure freshness and safety. This is because raw fish is highly perishable and can spoil quickly, even when refrigerated.

What is the maximum time limit for storing raw fish in the refrigerator?

The maximum time limit for storing raw fish in the refrigerator is 2-3 days. It is important to keep the fish at a temperature below 40°F to prevent bacteria growth. If the fish smells fishy or has a slimy texture, it should not be consumed. To extend its shelf life, it can be frozen for up to 6 months.

How can you tell if raw fish has gone bad in the fridge?

If raw fish has gone bad in the fridge, it will have a strong, unpleasant odor and a slimy texture. The color may also appear dull or faded. If any of these signs are present, the fish should not be consumed as it may cause food poisoning.

What is the risk of eating raw fish that has been in the fridge for too long?

Eating raw fish that has been in the fridge for too long can cause food poisoning. The risk increases as the fish sits in the fridge, as bacteria can grow rapidly, especially in warmer temperatures. Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

Can you freeze raw fish to extend its shelf life?

Yes, you can freeze raw fish to extend its shelf life. It should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or an air-tight container to prevent freezer burn. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. When ready to use, it should be thawed in the refrigerator and cooked thoroughly.

What are the best practices for storing raw fish in the fridge to keep it fresh?

The best practices for storing raw fish in the fridge include keeping it at a temperature below 40°F, storing it in an air-tight container, and consuming it within 2-3 days. It should also be kept away from other food items to prevent cross-contamination. Additionally, it is important to purchase fish from a reputable source and to always practice good hygiene when handling raw fish.

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