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How long does Smoked Salmon last? Can it go bad?

Smoked salmon is typically bought either in thin strips, in steak-like cuts, or sometimes whole. Each of these forms will have a different expiry date and its own different factors to take into consideration. Being a relatively expensive fish, it can be impossible to resist the allure of a great bulk deal. But, this may bring with it its own complications. Due to the fact that smoked salmon isn’t really cooked as such, it can be a bit tricky to ensure that it doesn’t go off really quickly. Because of this, we would generally advise steering clear of buying massive amounts of it in one go. What we would also advise you is to try making salmon jerky  which is frigging delicious! (in that case, check out our best jerky dehydrator reviews)

However, if you’ve found yourself in this exact position and you can’t bear the thought of having to discard even the tiniest bit of it, you’ve come to the right place. We have gathered all of the best storage techniques for ensuring that your smoked salmon stays in peak condition. We’ve also gathered some handy tips and tricks that will let you know when your salmon is taking a turn for the worse and how to save as much of it as possible. After all, if it costs this much, there’s every reason to try to save as much of it as possible should the worst come to pass. This leads us nicely into our first set of tips; how to store smoked salmon for as long as humanly possible. Bon appetit!

 Keep in mind that, when you prepare salmon, you’ll probably have to work your way through using a boning knife to remove any pin bones or leftover skin.

The Best Way to Store Smoked Salmon

You will have definitely noticed that smoked salmon is always distributed and stored in vacuum-sealed packaging. It is also nearly always found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, with a good reason. Essentially, this is the optimal condition for smoked salmon to keep for the longest possible time, and so the real trick is to try to replicate those conditions as closely as you possibly can. Smoked salmon is notoriously susceptible to the elements. It gets a bit of moisture on it, it’s ruined. A bit too much exposure to sunlight; ruined. Too much air? You had better believe that’ll ruin it! So, from the second you leave the store, you would do well to keep this in mind. After all, no one wants a crusty or rubbery serving of salmon.

Timing is of the essence

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This means that straight after you leave the store, it is best to have your salmon safely tucked into the fridge within a 30-minute timeframe. Now, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Some manufacturers smoke their salmon in such a way that it doesn’t require refrigeration, but even these store better in the fridge in the long term. The difference is that there just isn’t that much of a rush to get it in there. Now, it is important to note that smoked salmon doesn’t immediately expire if it’s left out for more than 30 minutes. But, it is at this point that small textural changes will begin to take root.

Once opened, the priority becomes ensuring that its contact with air is minimalized. Possibly the worst thing that could be done at this stage is to leave it unsealed. In the pantry, the exposure to air will dry it out and expose it to bacteria that will degrade it rapidly. Whereas in the fridge, a moisture-rich environment, the salmon will only keep for a few days before the texture just seems… wrong. To combat this, always either reseal the original packaging or find it a new home in a re-sealable bag in the fridge.


How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last?

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If you’re sourcing your smoked salmon form a commercial source, the chances are that it has a very precise expiry date printed on it. However, once the package is opened, even if it is resealed again, this best by date can effectively be disregarded. As soon as smoked salmon comes into contact with air, it begins to degrade and lose quality. Because of this, it is best to consume it within a five day period.

However, if the package hasn’t been opened at all and has just been waiting in the fridge, it can last much longer. In fact, if treated correctly it can survive past its printed best by date. If your smoked salmon is unopened, you can most likely enjoy its great flavor up to 3 days beyond its sell-by date. Naturally, there can be some slight variations on this which depend on how the fish was processed in the first place. To ensure that you don’t get caught out by rapidly degrading fish, we would strongly recommend reading the section below. Here, we outline all of the tell-tale signs that your smoked salmon may not be fit for consumption.


Signs That Your Smoked Salmon May Have Gone Off

First up is the easiest indicator; the sell-by date. If your salmon is over a week out of date, it is safe to assume that it needs to be discarded. Even if it is technically ‘safe’ at this point, it will neither taste nor feel right to the touch. Beyond this, we have to rely on our better judgment by using our eyes, our fingers, and our nose. Gone off fish, even if it is smoked, gives off an incredibly nasty and pungent odor. Should you even catch a faint whiff of this, the safe bet is to throw it away.

Next up is the texture of the fish. In some cases, the outer edges can become hardened while the rest remains totally fine. Mercifully, these hard edges can be trimmed away preserving the rest for a short period. However, should the surface of the salmon become slimy to the touch, there is no way of saving it. This texture will more than likely be accompanied by a strong odor and will let you know for sure that your smoked salmon is not safe to eat.


Should Smoked Salmon be Refrigerated?

Smoked salmon should absolutely be refrigerated, 100% of the time. What you might not have known though is that smoked salmon is also freezer-friendly fish. It already comes in a vacuum-sealed package which is perfect for freezing. This means that you can buy smoked salmon in bulk and freeze most of it as is. In this state, it can last for about three months and is best defrosted slowly in the fridge afterward. However, most purists out there will not be satisfied with this answer as, well, once something is frozen it never is quite as good as when it was fresh. In this sense, we would only recommend doing this if absolutely necessary. For the best quality fish, always buy it fresh. If it is the case that you are freezing an opened package of smoked salmon, remember to put it in a freezer bag and squeeze out all of the air.


Smoked Salmon Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Questions

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Is smoked salmon raw?

Cold smoked salmon is generally produced by curing the fish for around 24 hours in salt and then smoking it at the incredibly low temperature of 80 degrees. With a temperature as low as this, no real cooking occurs. As such, the salmon you are eating should be considered ‘cured’ rather than cooked.

Is smoked salmon safe during pregnancy?

Cold smoked salmon is a no go during pregnancy, unfortunately. This is because it can out you at risk of contracting tapeworm and listeria. So, if you are craving smoked salmon, opt for the hot smoked salmon instead

Is smoked salmon keto?

Smoked salmon is great for those on the keto diet as it is very high in protein with a zero count on carbs. Try smoked salmon filled avocadoes with sour cream – they’re amazing!

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