Category Archives: How to Select, Handle, Clean and Store Seafood

Freezing Shellfish and Storage Times

How to Select, Handle, Clean and Store Seafood

(printer-friendly version)

Storage Times

frozen-shrimpIdeally, all frozen seafood should be used within two months for maximum quality. When properly frozen, lean fish such as flounder and catfish should maintain quality up to six months. Fatty fish such as bluefish, mackerel and mullet should be used within three months.

Shrimp, scallops, clams, oysters and crabs can be stored up to three months. The sooner fish and shellfish are frozen after harvest, the longer the shelf life will be.


  • should be headed and frozen in their shells in freezer containers. After filling the carton, cover the shrimp with ice water, leaving enough head space for the water to expand when frozen. Use small or medium containers so that the shrimp will freeze more quickly.


  • should be shucked and frozen in airtight containers.

Clams and oysters…

  • are best frozen in their shells, which makes them easy to shuck with no loss of juice. This is not always practical and they can be shucked and frozen in airtight containers.

Blue crabs…

  • should be cleaned and cooked before freezing. Freeze the cores and claws and thaw them before picking the meat out. The quality of the crabmeat will be superior to that of frozen, picked meat that undergoes significant textural changes.

From: Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas

Contributed by Joyce Taylor

How to Dress and Fillet Lionfish

how to select, handle, clean and store seafood

(printer-friendly version)

Barry Nash, North Carolina Sea Grant’s seafood technology and marketing specialist, demonstrates how to dress and fillet the invasive lionfish.


To avoid being stung, use puncture-proof gloves when handling a lionfish with its spines intact. To clip the dorsal spines, hold the fish by the head, and using heavy kitchen shears, start cutting at the rear of the fish and work forward. This prevents the spines from lying flat along the back. Clip only the first spine of each pelvic fin and the first three of the anal fin. The remaining are rays and are not venomous. It is not necessary to clip the tail or pectoral fins.

Morris, James. Invasive Lionfish: A Guide to Control and Management. 36.

cRemove the scales with a fish scaler or the dull side of a knife.

dCut around pelvic fins and remove viscera and all black membranes and blood, particularly the blood streak running along the backbone.

eRinse the fish well – with attention to the belly cavity – under cold, running  water.

fCut the flesh just above the tail.

gAt the pectoral fin, just behind the head, cut into the flesh at a 45-degree angle toward the head until the knife reaches the backbone.

hTurn the knife and follow the backbone to the tail, keeping the knife against the backbone. Or, if you prefer, reverse this and cut from the tail to the head. Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side. Always direct the knife away from you when filleting.


Remove the fillet and rinse it well under cold, running water.

Taylor, Joyce. Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas. North Carolina Sea Grant: 48-49.

jThe skin is edible, so it can be left on the fillet or removed.

Contributed by Barry Nash