Lox is one of those dishes that not all of us will have heard of. It sounds alien and is hard to imagine what it might be, let alone whether we can freeze it or not. Is it a fruit? A vegetable? Is it the tail of something?
Well, we’re going to solve the mystery for you right now: lox is salmon. But why call it lox?
Well, it’s given a different name because of the way the salmon is prepared. Lox is cut from the belly portion of the salmon, and it has been cured either in a salt and sugar rub or in brine. The belly of the salmon is the fattiest and therefore the most succulent and richest in flavor.
For a more familiar comparison, lux is a lot like smoked salmon and is regarded as a delicacy in certain parts of the world.
Now that you know what it is, you might very well be tempted to rush out and buy a portion. But if you are uncertain about cooking it yet, one question you might ask yourself is: can you freeze lox?
The short answer to this is: yes. However, you will certainly have to take precautionary steps to ensure that your lox remains in a decent condition throughout the freezing process, so you can cook and eat it later on without any great loss in flavor or texture.
But what do you have to do to prepare lox for freezing? Can you preserve it sliced or does it have to be whole? How long will lox stay fresh in the freezer?
Well, lox-lovers, you don’t have to worry, because we’ve got answers to all of the above questions as well as many more. After reading this article you’ll certainly have a better idea about freezing lux and whether it will damage this delicate fish’s consistency.
What Is Lox?
Okay, we know that lox is salmon, but what makes it so unique and sought-after?
Well, the development of smoked salmon can be traced back to the middle ages, where Nordics and Vikings discovered that you can actually smoke fish to preserve it.
These people needed their salmon to last all through the harsh winter, so if you smoke or salt a fish then you can easily keep it fresher for longer. Luckily, these sub-zero temperatures were also beneficial for salmon and lox.
These smoking fish techniques were eventually introduced into European cuisines, resulting in the smoked salmon that we pick up at our supermarkets today.
How To Freeze Lox
As discussed above, you can certainly freeze lox if you’re planning not to use it straight away or within a week of purchase.
Freezing can result in lox being preserved for up to 6 months, although if stored for this length of time the chances of it losing its distinctive flavor and texture rise significantly.
If you are working with unopened lox still in the packet, then all you need to do is place it straight in your freezer. Most supermarket-bought fish is sealed in a vacuum container, which means that it is less likely to contain oxygen and bacteria.
If you want to freeze an opened or fresh packet of lox, then you will need to purchase your freezer-friendly sealable bags in which to store your fish. Place the fish inside one of these bags and remove all the air which will spoil your lox.
You can also use a plastic container in which to store your lox, however, you need to make sure there is no excess moisture in the container and the lox is as dry as possible.
This is because the water will turn to crystals inside your meat, which will damage the internal structure of it.
To seal in as much of the flavor of your salmon as possible, we would recommend that you use an electric vacuum sealer to remove the excess air.
However, when freezing lox we would recommend that you slice it first. This will prevent you from having to defrost the lox in one single lump, which might result in your having to refreeze, which is not recommended for many meat products.
How To Freeze Sliced Lox
Freezing lox into slices will mean that you will be able to thaw it in portions that you will be able to measure more accurately for each recipe.
When it comes to freezing sliced lox, place the individual strips onto a baking tray and place in the freezer. This will ensure that the slices do not stick together.
Once the slices have been frozen individually, wrap them in saran wrap and place them in a sealable vacuum bag and place them in the freezer.
Once frozen, lox can last up to 6 months, but for optimum flavor and texture, we recommend thawing, cooking and eating after 3 months.
How To Thaw Lox
Because it is such delicate meat, you will have to thaw lox carefully for optimum safety. You won’t be able to simply defrost it in the microwave, as that will increase the level of bacteria that could make it unsafe to eat.
The best way to thaw lox is by leaving it in warm water at room temperature. You have to make sure that the water is not too warm, as this will also ruin the quality of the fish and the texture.
You don’t want bacteria to multiply, as this could lead to food poisoning.
The safest method of thawing out lox is by placing it in the refrigerator and leaving it overnight to defrost. The ideal temperature to defrost lox is at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
How Long Does Lox Last?
If you have bought a packet of lox slices and they are unopened, then they can remain in the fridge for up to 2 months.
If you have opened your packet of lox, then it should ideally be eaten within 3 days of opening. You must keep the opened lox in the fridge at 40 degrees or lower.
If you have frozen your lox in an unopened packer or sealed container, it should last up to 6 months.