A buyers’ guide – How to tell when fish is at its freshest best

Like all good natural produce, fish tastes best when it’s fresh.

If left lying on a supermarket refrigerator shelf too long, it can start to deteriorate leaving you with an inferior product to take home.

And though filleted raw fish is not likely to be harmful when it is past its sell-by date, both the taste and texture can be adversely affected.

Prime Seafoods products are delivered direct from the port to your door, ensuring you get a top-quality product.

But if you’re out shopping in the supermarket or at the fishmonger’s, it’s helpful to know just what to look for to check that what you buy is at its freshest best.

Here, we show you how.


Seeing is believing

Just like our own skin looks radiant when we are in good health, the skin of a fish is also a good indicator of what kind of condition it is in. Fresh fish has a very shiny, metallic skin that looks like it’s just been pulled out of the water.

If you’re buying a scaly fish such as salmon or sardines, then the scales should be perfectly intact and not rubbed away in places.

The flesh of the fish should look firm and not flaking apart, and if you’re buying it whole, then the eyes are a good place to start. They should be bright and clear, not cloudy or glazed.

Fish with dulled skin or discoloured patches is also not in the best condition.

If there is liquid on the flesh then it should be clear. A milky liquid around the fish is a sign it is deteriorating and starting to rot.


Sniff it out

Fresh-caught fish will have a lovely delicate flavour and smell, like clean water or brine.

No amount of cooking will improve the taste of a fish that has an unpleasant smell.

If you’re in a fishmonger’s then a strong smell of fish can be a bad sign. Fresh fish should smell of the sea – and that’s the overall scent that should be reaching your nostrils. So, trust your nose. If it tells you something is off, then don’t buy it.


The touch test

While it may not be possible to reach out and handle fish in a supermarket, if you’re inspecting the fish at home there are a few ways to tell how fresh it is.

Firstly, the flesh of the fish should feel moist but not squidgy and water-logged. If you press it lightly, it should also feel firm and a little bit rubbery to the touch and there should be no major gaping.


Keeping it in tip-top condition

Fresh fish should be refrigerated as soon as possible with a storage temperature between 0c and 5c. It should be used within a day or two of purchase. If you’re freezing white fish, it should keep well for up to three months, while oily fish is best eaten within two months of freezing and shellfish within one month.

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