Striped bass, also known as rockfish, is one of the tastiest fish you could pull from brackish and freshwater streams. But if you’re not planning on chowing down immediately, you might want to refrigerate your catch. Still, how long can striped bass be refrigerated?
Striped bass can be refrigerated for up to five days, though it’s typically best to consume fresh-caught fish within three days of gutting and cleaning them. You could also choose to freeze your striped bass to make it last an additional two to three months.
This guide will explore how long refrigerated striped bass keeps and how to refrigerate bass. We’ll also discuss whether striped bass can be frozen and how to preserve your bass fillets for future meals.
How Long Does Refrigerated Striped Bass Stay Edible?
A recently-caught refrigerated striped bass can stay safely edible for five days. Naturally, you’ll want to gut, clean, and fillet the fish before storing it in the fridge. Additionally, the quality of each fillet decreases slightly with every passing day.
Therefore, if you’d like to make a meal out of a fresh-caught striped bass, you’ll want to do so within the first three days of preparing the fillets. After this point, the meat can get slimy and develop a dull appearance, which are the first signs of spoiled fish.
How To Refrigerate Striped Bass
Before you refrigerate striped bass, you’ll need to turn the whole fish into neat slices or fillets.
The only exception to this rule is when you plan on cooking a whole fish. In this instance, you’ll want to gut and clean the fish, taking extra care to wash away any entrails or loose scales.
Then, dry the fish as best you can (paper towels help), wrap it in plastic or wax paper, seal the fish in that material, then place it on the lowest shelf of your refrigerator.
If you’re not planning on cooking the fish whole, you’ll want to descale the fish, remove its guts, and wash away any excess. Then carefully fillet the fish, placing each finished fillet into a bowl of iced, salted water.
When you’ve cut the last fillet, clean your workspace.
After that, drain the portioned fish by pouring the fillets into a colander. Pat each fillet dry with a paper towel and store the dried portions in a sealable plastic bag or glass container. Place the bag or container into the refrigerator.
If possible, write the date onto a sticker and place the sticker onto the container. This will ensure you eat the striped bass before it goes bad.
Can Striped Bass Be Frozen?
Striped bass can be frozen and will remain edible for several months. If you don’t plan on eating your striped bass within five days of catching it, you’ll likely want to skip refrigeration and head straight for freezing.
Notably, freezing your filleted fish is the best way to preserve it.
But you’ll likely want to chow down on your fillets within the first two or three months of their time in the freezer. Otherwise, you could end up with freezer-burned bass or chewy, gummy fish fillets.
How Do You Preserve Striped Bass?
Unfortunately, freezing striped bass changes the texture of the meat. Still, if you’d like to keep your catch edible for several weeks or months, you’ll need to freeze it.
To preserve striped bass, you’ll need to prepare it for freezing. You can either freeze it by using the saltwater freeing method or vacuum seal it before freezing. Both methods will keep your bass fresher longer.
The right option depends on your budget, kitchen equipment, and personal preferences. Let’s explore both methods to discover how they differ. That way, you’ll be able to select an option that suits your needs.
The Saltwater Freezing Method
You don’t need several hundred dollars of equipment to freeze your striped bass safely. However, you will need a freezer, several freezer bags, and plenty of salt. You’ll also need a filet knife and a safe space to clean and cut your fish.
To utilize the saltwater freezing method to preserve striped bass, you’ll want to:
- Clean and fillet the fish.
- Place a portion into a freezer-safe bag.
- Fill the bag with saltwater.
- Seal and label the bag.
- Place the bag in the freezer.
The first step of the freezing process is cleaning, gutting, and filleting your striped bass. This initial step can be awkward if you’ve never descaled or gutted a fish before.
For a helpful visual guide, be sure to check out this related video:
After removing the entrails and the scales, it’s time to fillet the fish. You’ll need a cutting board and a sharp fillet knife for this process. It’s also an excellent idea to put on cut-resistant gloves to keep your fingers safe.
For more information about how to fillet a fish, consider watching this video guide:
After you’ve filleted the striped bass, you’ll want to prepare a deep bowl of salted water. Then place a single filet into a freezer-safe bag and partially seal the bag, allowing only a small opening for air to go in and out.
Carefully hold the bag by the top seal and pull it under the surface of the salted water until the bag is full of water, with no air bubbles rising to the bowl’s surface. While the bag is under the water, press the seal closed.
Dry the outside of the bag, then place it in the freezer. Finally, repeat these steps with the remaining fillets.
The Vacuum Seal Preservation Method
If you own a food-grade vacuum sealer, you might want to use this method to keep your fish fillets in excellent condition.
After all, most foods begin to rot after prolonged exposure to air. By removing the air from your bags of fish fillets, you can help reduce long-term rot. The lack of extra moisture in the bag can also help prevent freezer burn.
To vacuum seal your striped bass, you’ll need to:
- Clean and fillet the fish.
- Place a portion into a vacuum-freezer bag.
- Vacuum the remaining air from the bag.
- Label and freeze the bag.
The first two steps are almost identical to the saltwater freezing method. The primary difference is that you’ll want to use vacuum seal bags when placing your fillets into containers.
You’ll also need a vacuum sealer to remove the air from each bag.
After suctioning the air from each fillet-filled bag, the final step is labeling your bag with the current date and tossing it in the freezer. How easy is that?
Striped bass can be refrigerated for up to five days if you’re careful. However, suppose you’re an expert fisherman and catch several basses in one or two hauls. In that case, you’ll need to preserve them in a long-term storage solution. Use the tips in this article for freezing your bass, and you’ll have something for supper for several months.