Tips For Handling Fresh Fish

by Dana Kester-McCabe

I recently spoke to Charlie Pertocci, an historian and former game warden, who lectures about our seafood heritage and the best practices for cleaning and storing fish. I asked him to share some tips with us.

Now that warm weather is here fishing is the way many people like to spend their spare time. To catch a fish is a thrill that never gets old. To eat your catch is also very satisfying.

  • When the water is not too warm keep your catch on a stringer in the water where you are fishing.

  • Otherwise get your fish into a cooler as soon as possible.

  • Block ice lasts longer than cubed or crushed ice. Fill recycled plastic bottles with water leaving room for expansion and use in your coolers.

  • Use a vacuum packing machine for fish you are going to freeze. An alternative is to fill a stock pot with water, put your fish in a plastic baggy and lower it into the water to force the air out, then seal.

  • Fish can be frozen block style. Put fish in a bag or container and cover with water. Add 1-2 tablespoons of coarse salt and seal.

  • If you have trouble shucking clams pop them in the freezer over night. They will die and open easaily. The clams and all their juices can be used right away or packaged and frozen. The juices are valuable to save because they are delicious in sauces and soups.

Charlie encourages those who love to eat seafood but who do not want to try and catch it themselves to visit a local harbor and buy fresh fish directly from the captains who are selling it. But note that if you want their fish cleaned and filleted health codes require that only established fish markets can sell that.

Find out more about seafood heritage: