How Long Does Kingfish Last In The Freezer?

Kingfish is one of the best tasting fish out there. With proper preparation and the right mix of herbs and spices, it can easily steal the spotlight on your dining table. So, you might be wondering if it's okay to keep some stock of kingfish fillets and steaks in your freezer. Most importantly, how long will they stay good in there so that you can be assured of their great taste and quality when you cook them? Well, we've asked the fish experts, and here's what they say.

Kingfish does well in the freezer if handled and stored properly. Fresh and raw kingfish that are kept in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed packaging will retain their nutritional value, flavor, and taste for 3 to 8 months. But if your kingfish have been smoked prior to freezing, it is best to consume them within 2 to 3 months or else their quality will begin to decline beyond this period.

Let's talk more about the proper way of handling and storing kingfish so that we can maximize its shelf life. Continue reading as we share tips we've gotten from the fish experts on how to freeze this fish so that it'll last longer. We'll also share with you if king mackerel freezes well and how you should store it in your cold compartment.


A group of Pacific King Mackerel Fish at seafood market, How Long Does Kingfish Last In The Freezer?

How long can kingfish be frozen?

Food experts say that kingfish is good to go in the freezer. If stored properly, you can keep raw kingfish in your cold compartment for 3 to 8 months. If you want to put your smoked kingfish in the freezer, you can do so but make sure to eat it within 3 months to ensure its good quality.

The USDA even says that frozen fish is kept safe for an indefinite period of time inside the freezer. This is as long as the temperature is constantly kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. But through time, its nutritional value, flavor, and texture will deteriorate so it's best to consume your kingfish within the recommended time frame.

Does Kingfish freeze Okay?

Two fresh Kingfishes isolated on white background

Kingfish belongs to the Sciaenidae family that can be found in the Atlantic Ocean's shallow waters. It is also a prized catch among anglers or those who love to do fishing as a sport. The best thing about catching this fish aside from the bragging rights is that you get to enjoy a really delicious meal out of it.

Some people like to cut kingfish into fillets or steaks. Because it has a firm and moist texture, it's great to deal with in the kitchen. It can be fried, grilled, smoked, or combined with other ingredients for some sumptuous dishes like curry or stew. With the right seasonings, kingfish will make a pescatarian out of you!

That's why it is understandable if you want to stock up on this fish in your freezer. And you'll be glad to know that kingfish does well in the cold compartment. As long as you prepare it for freezing immediately while it is in its fresh state, then store it in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed packaging, you can be assured that you can enjoy your kingfish steaks later on.

How Do You Freeze Kingfish?

  1. Prepare a bowl of brine solution using this proportion: 1 cup cold water to 1/4 cup of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, wash your kingfish over running water.
  3. Dip the cleaned fish in the brine solution for about 30 seconds. This will make the fish firmer even when thawed.
  4. Cover each fish cut with freezer paper or cling wrap so that you can easily separate them when it's time to use your frozen kingfish.
  5. Place the fish inside a freezer bag. Press out excess air before sealing it tightly.
  6. Label with the content and storage date.
  7. Freeze.

You might read some recommendations to submerge your fish in water, cover it tightly, then freeze. While some people do this, experts say that it will affect the quality of your kingfish once it thaws. So, it's best to stick with the brine solution as a pre-treatment for this rich and flavorful fish.

How to smoke Kingfish

Kingfish's fat content makes it ideal for smoking as this process will enhance its flavor. Smoking is also another way of preserving this fish. It prevents the growth of bacteria and molds which reduces the risk of food poisoning. There are 2 ways of smoking: hot and cold depending on the temperature used. But for kingfish, hot smoking is the preferred method.

You'll need your smoker or griller, brine solution, and your favorite smoking wood. Here's how to go about it:

  1. Prepare your brine solution with this simple formula: 1 tbsp of salt to 1 cup of water. You can also add some white wine, brown sugar, peppercorns, and other herbs and spices that you like.
  2. Gut and clean your kingfish.
  3. Submerge in the brine solution for 2 to 3 hours. Aside from reducing the growth of harmful bacteria, this will also add flavor to your fish if you added some other seasonings.
  4. Prepare your griller or smoker by choosing your smoke maker. There's oak, alder, or fruit woods. Take note that your fish will also absorb the wood's flavor so don't choose ones that leave a bitter taste.
  5. Arrange your kingfish on the grill rack. Just make sure you leave some space in between each fish cut.
  6. Cover your griller.
  7. Start with a low temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Smoke the fish for 2 hours. This will help the fish absorb the smoky flavor.
  8. After 2 hours, you can turn up the heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Smoke the fish for another hour or so. Make sure that it reaches the safe internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit before you remove it from the smoker.

Does King Mackerel freeze well?

Fresh fish on the dock at a local fish market

King mackerel are a sought-after species among game fishers because they don't go down without a fight. They are larger in size than the usual mackerel that you might be accustomed to. In general, they are fatty fish. Experts say that the higher the fat content of the fish, the lower its water content which makes it great for freezing.

With proper care and handling, king mackerel will stay in good condition for 6 to 12 months. Experts suggest storing them in polyethylene bags and surrounding them with ice packs to extend their shelf life in the freezer.

How to freeze King mackerel

The important thing to note here is to prepare your king mackerel for freezing as soon as you get home from the grocery or after capturing it if you're an angler.

  1. Gut and clean your king mackerel if it's freshly caught. Slice according to your desired cuts.
  2. Cover each layer of fish with aluminum foil, freezer paper, or cling wrap. This will make it easier to separate them later on.
  3. Transfer your king mackerel to an airtight container. You can also use a freezer bag. Press out the air before sealing it tightly.
  4. Label before putting it inside the freezer.
  5. If you have ice packs, surround your king mackerel with them to make them last longer.

Click this link to find these flexible Cooler Shock ice packs on Amazon.

How to thaw frozen fish?

The best way to thaw your frozen kingfish or king mackerel is by transferring it to the fridge. Just put it on a plate to catch any drips and leave it there overnight.

Some also recommend the cold water bath method wherein you submerge the frozen fish in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every half-hour as needed.

If you don't have much time, you can also cook your fish straight from the freezer. Cooking time will just take a little longer.

Final Thoughts

Making kingfish dip sauce, kingfish Indian curry masala, or simply fried kingfish is no longer a problem as long as you have some fillets and steaks of this fish in your freezer. You can serve these dishes anytime to add variety to your everyday meals.

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