Storing fish after cooking can be a matter full of uncertainty. Some fish can last longer than others, depending on the fat content of the fish. Some are lean, such tilapia, and others are fatty, such as cod. There is also the matter of cooked versus uncooked fish. One of these gets stale a lot faster than the other. With so many limitations and stipulations on storing fish, it is important that you understand how to handle the tilapia fish and why.
Time and Temperature
Tilapia can only last in the refrigerator raw and unthawed for two days. The temperature inside must stay at a constant and cold 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that the temperature does not get any higher than 38 degrees. Freshly caught tilapia have the same requirements and can keep for the same amount of time. Cooked tilapia can be stored for up to four days in the same temperature settings.
Spotting Good Tilapia
When you go to get your tilapia out of the refrigerator, there are ways to check for freshness and to ensure that the fish hasn't gone bad. Look at the eyes on a whole tilapia fish. They should be bright in color and very clear. Feel the fish. There shouldn't be any slime, and the flesh should be firm . Smell the fish. It should be fresh, with a scent of saltwater. A musky, fishy odor means that the tilapia has turned bad. Dull coloring in the skin and eyes means the same thing.
A Word on Thawing
The most important rule of storing tilapia is that the fish can't be refrozen once it has thawed. Doing so changes the texture and flavor if the fish, making it unpleasant for consumption. You can freeze the tilapia once it is cooked, but it can only be unthawed once after that. Thaw the fish in the refrigerator by placing it in there for 24 hours. Don't thaw the tilapia by leaving it at room temperature. This will cause the fish to go bad.
Freezing Cooked Tilapia
Leftover tilapia dishes can be wrapped tightly and frozen. Once in the freezer, the tilapia can remain for up to six months. Fresh tilapia can be stored for up to six months as well.
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Jonita Davis is freelance writer and marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "The LaPorte County Herald Argus" and Work.com. Davis also authored the book, "Michigan City Marinas," which covers the history of the Michigan City Port Authority. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University.
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