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Can You Freeze Mackerel?

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By Ross Young

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Mackerel is an oily fish that’s great for your health. There are several varieties, including Atlantic, Blue, Chub, and King, and you can buy them from the supermarket once they’ve been packed in various ways.

Most fish comes vacuum packed, but it’s also possible to pick it up from the fresh fish counter if you’re fortunate enough to have access to one.

However you purchase your mackerel, you need to freeze it as soon as you can when you get home in order to preserve its freshness. But does mackerel freeze well or not?

The Quick Answer

Yes, you can freeze mackerel. Mackerel can be frozen for around 3 months. Regardless of how it has been packaged, it’s perfectly safe to freeze mackerel. This means you can have access to delicious oily fish regardless of the time of year.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

How to Freeze Mackerel

If you’ve purchased vacuum-packed mackerel from the supermarket, your job of freezing it couldn’t be any easier. Simply take it from your grocery bag and place it straight in the freezer!

You don’t need to unpack it or do anything at all. Keeping it in its vacuum pack will actually help to preserve it in the freezer.

If you’ve picked a fresh piece of mackerel up from the fish counter, you will need to freeze it within 24 hours. Here’s how to package it and ensure it freezes well:

  1. Wrap Individual Pieces
    If you have more than one piece of mackerel, wrap them in freezer paper, heavy-duty cling film, or tin foil. You should wrap each of them individually so they don’t stick together in the freezer. 
  2. Place Into Tupperware Box
    Line a Tupperware box with greaseproof paper, and lay each of your individually wrapped mackerels on top of one another. 
  3. Label and Freeze
    Write the date that you purchased your mackerel on the lid of the Tupperware box before transferring it to the freezer. You should also write the date the fish should be used. Remember, you can freeze mackerel for around three months.

Frozen Mackerel

How to Freeze Freshly Caught Mackerel

If you’ve caught mackerel yourself and taken it home to enjoy great work! Freshly caught fish is extra special, and you enjoy a sense of satisfaction that you’re eating something you caught yourself.

The only thing different from the list above when it comes to freezing freshly caught mackerel is that you will need to remove the guts of the fish before freezing it. However, if you know how to fish, you will most likely have known that already! 

3 Tips for Freezing Mackerel

Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing mackerel to have the best results:

  • Buy it Vacuum-Packed – Buying vacuum-packed mackerel from the supermarket is the best way to preserve mackerel, and it saves you lots of time when it comes to preparing it for the freezer. You can simply remove it from your grocery bag and place it in the freezer in its packaging. 
  • Keep It Well Wrapped – When you place your mackerel (or any fish) in the freezer, it’s important that it’s well wrapped and inside a box. You don’t want all of your other frozen goods to come out of the freezer smelling like oily fish!
  • Freeze Fresh – You have to be careful when freezing fish, as it needs to be fresh when frozen. If your fish begins to discolour or give off a pungent smell, it’s best not to freeze it at all. You should only freeze fish that is fresh and for best results, make sure you place it in the freezer within 24 hours of purchasing or catching it.

How Long Can You Freeze Mackerel?

You can freeze mackerel for around three months.

Whether smoked or unsmoked, the freezing process is the same. Just be sure that your mackerel is gutless before freezing it.

You Can Freeze Mackerel for up to 3 Months

How Do You Defrost Mackerel?

To defrost mackerel, you need to remove it from the freezer and place it in the fridge the night before you plan to enjoy it. You should defrost mackerel or any other fish on the countertop, as you run the risk of it spoiling or causing you a stomach upset.

Keep it covered in the fridge while defrosting, so the odours from the fish don’t cause too much of a smell! 

Can You Refreeze Mackerel?

We wouldn’t recommend refreezing mackerel. Fish is best enjoyed fresh or immediately after being defrosted.

By defrosting and refreezing mackerel, you run the risk of the fish spoiling and going bad. As you can imagine, fish that has spoiled doesn’t taste good and can be harmful to your health, which is something you will want to avoid at all costs. 

Does Mackerel Freeze Well?

If you place mackerel in the freezer as soon as you buy or catch it, you will find it freezes well. You will also need to ensure you eat it as soon as you can after it has been defrosted.

The key to enjoying fish is making sure it is as fresh as possible, so providing you follow the steps outlined above; you should have absolutely no issues when it comes to freezing mackerel.

Related FAQs

If you’ve still got questions about freezing mackerel or mackerel in general, then these may help:

Can Smoked Mackerel Fillets Be Frozen?

The method for freeze smoked mackerel fillets is actually identical to the method outlined on this page for freeze mackerel. Wrap them tightly in cling film, bag up and then freeze. Make sure you store them wrapped as this can prevent the smoky fish odour from spreading to other foods. 

Can You Freeze Mackerel Pate?

Mackerel pate can be frozen but you do need to be prepared for some textural changes. If you’ve made a chunky pate then the textural changes will be less noticeable compared to a smooth pate. 

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