Tuna is probably the most popular of all the deep-sea fish to eat.
You can get it canned in brine or olive oil or raw, from the supermarket in prepackaged tuna steaks or from the fish market.
It’s tasty and can be added to any number of dishes, from salads to sandwiches or enjoyed on its own with some roast potatoes and a few vegetables.
Tuna is also incredibly healthy for us. The salt is a good source of sodium and tuna, like all fish, is brimming with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are great for the brain and joint health.
But often we might want to preserve our tuna for the future. If we’re out catching it raw, freezing a tuna is the best way to keep it for months, possibly years on end.
In short, the answer to the title of this article is: yes. We certainly can freeze our fishy friends. Tuna in the freezer will keep a lot of its original texture and flavor once defrosted. Remember: this is a fish that is used to swimming in the deepest, coldest climates.
But what is the best way to freeze tuna? Can you freeze canned tuna, opened or unopened? Can you freeze tuna that has already been cooked and leftover from a previous meal?
Well, tuna-lovers do not need to fret, because we’ve compiled an in-depth how-to for freezing tuna, as well as whether you can freeze it still in the can and how long a tuna will keep in your freezer.
How Long Can You Keep Tuna In The Refrigerator?
In the average household fridge, tuna, whether canned or in a salad, can be kept for up to 3 to 5 days. Fresh tuna should ideally be eaten as quickly as possible after purchase. If you’re keeping raw tuna or a tuna steak in the fridge, it will usually keep for around 2 to 3 days.
If you leave tuna at room temperature for over two hours, bacteria will soon gather on it and you will have to discard it otherwise you run the risk of making yourself ill from food poisoning.
Fatty fishes like tuna can usually be kept in a fridge for an indefinite length of time, although the longer it is left the more it will lose its texture and flavor, as well as succumbing to freezer burn. To savor the taste of tuna, we recommend eating it within 2 or 3 days of purchase.
When storing tuna, you’ll need to consider the freshness of it before placing it in the fridge or freezer. The temperature of a freezer for fish should be kept at around 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
How To Prepare Tuna For Freezing
There are two effective methods for preparing tuna for the big freeze.
The first is by patting the meat down with a paper towel to remove any excess water from the top that will freeze and result in damaging the tissue and reducing the texture and flavor.
After you have removed most of the moisture from the surface of the fish, wrap it in cling film or aluminum and place it in a resealable plastic bag. Place a sticker that has the freeze date and time on it and then store it in the freezer.
The other way of freezing is by dipping the meat in a special solution made from 1 tablespoon of ascorbic acid crystals and half a cup of salt with a quarter of water.
After the fish is dipped in this solution, wrap it in cling film and aluminum foil, seal it up in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer.
How To Freeze Cooked Tuna
If you are freezing leftover tuna that has already been cooked, you simply take the tuna from the plate and place it into resealable plastic bags that can be stored in the freezer.
You can freeze a tuna salad along with the leaves if you need to, although be careful that the salad will experience freeze burn quicker than the tuna.
Freezer tuna in smaller batches will increase the speed at which it freezes.
Once the air has been removed from the plastic bags, spoon the leftover tuna into them and place them in the freezer. You can also freeze tuna in hard plastic containers.
How To Freeze Canned Tuna
When it comes to freezing canned tuna, you’ll have to remove it from its original metal housing. Metal is not great for freezing as it is too rigid and it might result in freezer burn for the meat inside.
Ideally, it’s best to scoop the tuna into plastic containers, first covering it in aluminum or cling film. You can also place them in sealable bags and not have to worry about them sticking to the surface.
Make sure you stick a freeze date on them, so you will know the likelihood of their flavor and texture diminishing past the point of enjoyable consumption.
How To Defrost Tuna
Defrosting frozen tuna is very simple and requires only a few steps. Simply transfer the frozen tuna from the freezer and place it in the fridge. Leave the fish in the fridge overnight and wait for it to thaw.
If you need to defrost tuna quicker, then you can place it in a bowl of cold tap water.
Once the tuna has been fully thawed - you can check this by sticking a knife into the meat and seeing if there is any resistance from the inside being frozen - then you can begin cooking it in a casserole or adding it to a warm summer salad.
When it comes to defrosting tuna leftovers, the same process applies. Put your leftovers in the fridge and wait for a few hours for it to thaw. This should take less time if there is less fish or if it is shredded.
Once thawed completely, you can put the fish in the oven or microwave to add to your meal.