These fish, if frozen properly, will be quite tasty and firm for up to six months after being caught. Tuna needs to be bled quickly when caught and then put in an ice bath immediately.
Shrimp should keep for about six months after being frozen and still be very good for cooking and eating. One of the most commonly caught (and delicious to eat) fresh fish from the Alabama Gulf Coast is speckled trout.
The flesh of speckled trout turns to mush after it thaws out from being frozen. The taste is fine, but the speckled trout fillets just fall apart after being frozen.
Mackerel, both Spanish, and king, are not good candidates for the freezer. Their dark, oily flesh doesn’t freeze well, and king mackerel especially can get very tough and dry after being frozen.
Picked crab meat freezes fairly well, but it isn’t nearly as good as fresh. Probably the most important step in the entire freezing and keeping process happens long before the fish ever see the freezer.
If we toss a bunch of fine fresh fish into a hot, dry ice chest with intentions to “ice it up later,” we have doomed the fillets to a very poor future. The Louisiana State University Ag Center and Sea Grant Fact sheet on Handling and Freezing Seafood at Home says that initial icing of fresh fish requires at least one pound of ice for each pound of fish.
Most boat ramps and launch areas have fish cleaning stations provided, and this is a very convenient thing. Think about how many gulls have perched on the cleaning surface and left little surprises there.
Using a public cleaning station is fine, but anglers will want to have either a wooden fish cleaning board or a thin plastic cutting board which can be used to keep the fresh fish out of the nastiness. Just hit them with some water and a little bleach solution, wipe off to dry, and that’s it until next time they are needed.
At all steps of the cleaning process, the more the fresh fish can be kept at almost freezing temperatures, the better it will taste and will keep. These mixed white and vermilion snapper need to be on ice.
Research has shown that rapid freezing results in the best quality of the seafood. Make sure that the temperature of the freezer is around 0 degrees F. Put the seafood in small packages and spread them out to allow cold air circulation around the bags until frozen.
A very important last step in the freezing process: Get a Sharpie marker and put the date the fish was frozen on the package. The LSU Fact sheet recommends that large, whole fish with skin on are best when they are first frozen, then dipped in ice water to form a protective glaze over the whole fish, and then wrapped in freezer paper for long-term freezing.
Of course, if an angler has access to a vacuum-bagging machine, the whole freezing process is much easier and much more likely to produce good results. When using a vacuum bagging machine, try to not put too many fillets in a single package.
Simply opening the package and putting the seafood directly in the water may cause texture, color, and flavor changes; in other words, keep the water away from the thawing seafood. I have eaten fish that has been frozen for considerably longer than six months, and in some cases, it was not too bad.
When it came time to eat, well, let’s just say that the wonderful taste of fresh tuna was not there. So, with freezing seafood, there are limits on how long the frozen fish will keep.
(Within reason, of course; keeping more than you’ll eat is overfishing, and that can lead to lower populations in the Gulf.) If you’re new to charter boat fishing, keep these tips in mind so that you can make the most of your catches.
Naturally, once you reel in your catches, you’ll need a place to put them while you continue to fish. Many vessels will come equipped with aerated live wells where you can keep your fish alive on the boat until your trip is over.
Your best bet for packaging and transporting your catches is to fillet and clean them sooner rather than later. Many charter boat services will offer to dress your fish for you for a small fee.
If you’ve got a vacuum sealer handy, you’ll want to bring it for this trip. Rock salt is key to storing your fish when you’re ready to transport them.
For shorter trips, freeze your catches immediately and keep them as cold as possible during the drive. If you’re planning on eating some of your fish within the first couple days of returning home, you can store the files in the refrigerator.
To further extend the shelf life of raw grouper, freeze ; when freezing, place grouper in the freezer before the number of days shown for refrigerator storage has elapsed. Properly stored, it will maintain the best quality for about 6 to 8 months, but will remain safe beyond that time.
There are some fish species that don't freeze very well, and those include bluefish, herring, mackerel and sardines. Put a metal baking pan in your freezer ahead of time and get it nice and cold.
Then, dip the fillets in salted water, use about a teaspoon of salt per quart of water, and immediately put those fillets onto the cold baking pan in the freezer. Repeat this process a couple of times until you have about a 1/4” thick glaze on each fillet.
Then put 2 or 3 fillets into a bag and seal it well, removing every bit of air that you can. The water helps protect the fish from freezer burn and keeps air away from the fillets.
Either place your fillets directly into a zip lock bag or vacuum seal them. Here's a nice video showing how easy it is to freeze fish fillets.
Some people believe that the frozen product is so inferior to fresh crab, that it's not even worth the time to freeze them. Others believe that sometimes a surplus of crab can't be avoided, so it's better to freeze them than to waste them.
No matter the method, there is a consensus that frozen crab, in any form, will last up to about 3 months. Clean the crab by removing the top shell and then rinsing with cold water.
Place them in a ziplock type bag and remove the air. Put them in an airtight, freezer quality, container and make sure they are immersed in their own liquor or water.
Remove them from their shells and place in an airtight, freezer quality, container. Put a metal baking pan in your freezer ahead of time and get it nice and cold.
Repeat this process a couple of times until you have about a 1/4” thick glaze on each shrimp. Then put as many shrimp as you will want for a meal into a bag and seal it well, removing every bit of air that you can.
Cover the shrimp with water and store in an airtight container or a zip lock bag. Chill the shrimp by putting them in a bowl of ice water.
Put a metal baking pan in your freezer ahead of time and get it nice and cold. Place the shrimp on a baking pan in a single layer in your freezer.
Once frozen, you can then put the shrimp into zip lock bags, removing as much air as possible. Put a metal baking pan in your freezer ahead of time and get it ice-cold.
Lay the scallops out on the pan in a single layer and freeze them (for no more than 1 hour), Then put them in an airtight container, or a zip lock bag and store them in the coldest part of your freezer (the back). Some people believe that you should not freeze raw clams in the shell.
And, some people believe that it is fine to do this as long as the clams are alive to begin with and you go through the “Rinsing process” discussed below Freezing Steamers You can freeze them uncooked in the shell or cooked and shucked Whatever method you want to use, you do have to go through the following rinsing process with fresh steamer clams.
You can now freeze the whole clams in their shell by putting them into zip lock freezer bags and removing as much air as possible. Freezing Cooked, Shucked Steamers Go through the rinsing process above.
Then steam the clams for at least 5-9 minutes, or until the majority of the shells are open. Place the cleaned, shucked clams into freezer bags or airtight containers.