We have a special frame of mind in Alaska, living with salmon everywhere from streams to our freezers. Handling, cleaning and storing your salmon properly makes a world of difference in its flavor.
After you have stunned the fish and cut or ripped the gills to bleed the fish out you are ready to get started:
Don’t allow the salmon to flop around on the ground or in the bottom of a boat, as this will bruise and soften its flesh. Clean and gut your salmon as soon as possible after it’s caught.
Most importantly, keep it cold. Ideally, freshly caught and cleaned salmon should be placed on ice immediately. If no ice is available, wrap it loosely in a damp cloth or paper and place it in the shade. Did you know that delaying icing can cost you days of freshness? A fish held at 50o for twelve hours loses two days of shelf life compared to the same fish held on ice.
Once it’s on ice in a cooler, keep the salmon out of the water floating in the cooler as the ice melts. If it will be several hours before you can get it into your freezer, drain the water from the bottom of the cooler and change the ice as needed.
Vacuum sealing is among the best ways to preserve fresh flavor and minimize the freezer burn and oxidation that can occur when air gets into packaging. Other good options include wrapping salmon thoroughly in plastic wrap before freezing, or using freezer bags with a bit of water in them and carefully squeezing out any air bubbles.
Freezing salmon preserves it for months, if done properly.