Fish Preservation Techniques: Ensuring Freshness Beyond the Shoreline

Fish preservation is the process of increasing the life of fish and other fish products by applying the principles of different branches of science to maintain fish, once it arrives, in a good and healthy condition for human consumption.

When you buy fish, it is important to be fast in the process of scaling and gutting to avoid damage. Fish can be damaged in two ways:

Bacterial activity:

The microflora responsible for destruction lives both in and on the back of the fish. Bacterial damage is delayed until the hard mortis disappears, mainly due to lactic acid. This acid creates an unfavorable environment for the growth of damaged microorganisms, thus preventing their spread.

Autolytic enzymes or digestive enzymes: 

During the rigor mortis process, large autolytic changes occur, slowly softening the tissue. This softening is accompanied by the production of hydrogen sulfide. Conditions that cause fish to spoil quickly include factors such as high temperatures, delays in transportation, poor handling practices, and use of unsanitary packaging.

Methods of fish preservation and storage

There are four main ways of preserving and storing fish, namely: canning, freezing, smoking and pickling. It is important to keep fresh fish high. As with any fresh food, fish is susceptible to physical deterioration, rancidity and microbial spoilage.

1. Freezing

It is of the utmost importance to carefully handle the fish immediately after it is caught, because this initial treatment provides the basis for the integrity of the fish during freezing. 

Next, it is important to quickly remove the guts and clean the fish thoroughly. This step removes potential contamination and spoilage, thereby contributing significantly to the quality of frozen fish. 

The choice of packaging material or process is very important. The use of airtight packaging is important to avoid overheating, due to exposure to air, and to prevent the development of odors. Maintaining a freezer storage temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower is a requirement. This low temperature effectively stops the activity of the spoilage microorganisms, preventing their growth and subsequent fish spoilage. 

The freezing process includes two main methods:

  • Put ice on the bottom of the container, next to the fish, and cover the fish with ice on top. By doing this, the process of fishing is slow, which preserves the type of fish and maintains its freshness and taste.
  • On the other hand, the freezer can be used, where clean fish, steaks or fish fillets are stored at different temperatures. This system provides flexibility in performance in the freezer, suitable for different types of fish products. 

2. Sun drying

Sun drying, a traditional and effective method of preserving fish, finds special value in areas with high temperatures and low humidity. 

This method includes two different methods: direct sun drying and sun drying. In terms of direct sun drying, the fish are best placed on various surfaces such as mats, sand, rocks, roofs or platforms that exposed to sunlight. The intense heat of the sun causes the water in the fish to evaporate, dehydrating it and thus preserving it. 

This process thrives in environments where the combination of high temperatures and low humidity speeds up the absorption of water from the fish.

In contrast, enhanced sun drying is used following the implementation of other measures to prevent or thwart bacterial growth. This method is associated with a method such as salting.


 Speaking of salting, there are two ways to do it:

3. Salt drying:

Following the fish's scaling and gutting, it undergoes partial drying before being properly salted inside and out. Next, the fish is put through the  draining process, allowing the salt to penetrate the flesh. The contact time of fish with this salt is from 1 to 3 days depending on the degree of preservation required.

Both sun drying process, as well as the salting method, work as a powerful method for preserving fish. Sun-drying effectively removes moisture from the fish, thus preventing the growth of harmful micro-organisms. 

Improved sun drying combined with other systems such as salt, increases the preservation effort by providing additional layer of defence against bacterial growth. This combination of traditional methods plays an important role in extending the fish's life, ensuring that it feels better.

4. Brining

Brining is the process of soaking meat in dilute salt water until the salt has dissolved into the meat. Salt is used to make the brine in which the fish is placed. The fish is kept in brine for about an hour and dried in the sun. This process improves fish preservation by preventing the growth of spoilage microorganisms and improving the taste and texture of the final product. 

Steps or procedures for brining fish:

  •  First, the salt is carefully weighed and dissolved in water to create brine. Adding salt is important, because it affects the preservation and flavor of the fish. The correct salt/water ratio ensures optimal results. 
  • Second, prepare enough brine to completely submerge the fish, ensuring even exposure for consistent penetration of salt and brine components.
  • Also, make sure that the fish is left in the brine for at least an hour to ensure that it absorbs enough salt and flavor enhancers, thus preserving the texture and taste.
  • Control the temperature of the discharge, keeping it below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius), to avoid the growth of bacteria that can damage the storage.
  • Brine fish that is similar in size and shape to ensure uniformity, consistency and preservation
  •  After brining, establish a foundation for good preservation by protecing flavor, reducing moisture, and preventing microorganisms from spoiling during sun drying. These careful procedures make stocking a vital part of successful fish conservation.

5. Smoking. 

Smoking is a traditional method used for temporary preservation of fish. The process that is included in the smoking process is important, not only to ensure good safety, but also to promote the development of flavors and aromas. 

A variety of fish, including carp, suckers, catfish, salmon, trout and chub, can be effectively smoked. The fish are carefully sealed in dug pits or on platforms, usually in compact chambers that are placed inside brick ovens. Lighting the fire of burning wood creates the smoke necessary for drying the fish, helping the preservation process.

The process or steps in the smoking process:

There are different methods involved in the smoking process:

  •  Ensure consistent heat treatment by placing freshly caught fish, whole or packed, into the smokehouse. It is important to use properly prepared fish. 
  • Once ready, introduce the fish to a smoker, the smoker back when the air temperature reaches 100 degrees. During the smoking process, carefully monitor the air temperature, allowing it to slowly rise to 225 degrees.
  • The fish internal flesh must have the heat of 180 degrees and be in this position to 30 minutes.
  •  When smoking, it is advisable to store the smoked fish in the refrigerator and eat it within a month to maintain its quality and freshness.

6. Canning

Canning is an effective fish preservation process that begins with careful cleaning and professional sorting. Finally, the fish is put through a carefully prepared brine solution, which includes water and salt, to preserve and enhance its flavor. 

After brining, the fish is washed in clean and cool water for about an hour to remove salt and impurities. Once Brine and Running is over, the fish goes into drying phase to remove excess moisture, which is important to prevent the bacteria during storage. 

When the back has been dried, the back was shipped to create a place to produce a structure and the cover area and air makes it wrong, the causes of damage. 

The package filled with fish undergoes a heat treatment that performs two important functions: to eliminate any harmful organisms and to extend the life of the fish. 

Finally, after heat treatment, the boxes are closed under pressure, maintaining sterility and preventing the entry of microbes or air.

Through these rigorous processes, canned fish remains fresh, tasty and ready to eat for a long time, making canned fish a safe and reliable food choice.


Pickling of fish

Pickling fish is a simple preservation process that requires the fish to be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40 degrees F to maintain the best flavor, and it should be eaten within 4 to 6 weeks. It is although only certain types of fish are usually fished for local food, almost any type of fish is boiled at home. 

To ensure the safety of these home-grown fish, the first step is to eliminate the larvae of the giant tapeworm, a parasite that can infect humans and is widespread in mountain pike and other fish species.
Ingredients for pickled fish:
1. To prepare pickled fish, it is important to start with fresh, healthy fish.
2. Clean water should be used to avoid hardness that can give an unpleasant flavor to the final product.
3. Choose distilled white vinegar with a minimum acetic acid content of 5 percent; This level of acidity is very important to prevent bacterial growth and ensure the safety of the pickling process
4. For the salt side, choose a large canning or pickling salt, because these types do not have calcium or magnesium compounds that can introduce unpleasant flavors and textures to these fish. - eat food.

 5. By following these guidelines, you can create a batch of healthy and tasty fish. 


Although there are other ways to preserve fish, only freezing can maintain the taste and quality of fresh fish. Where possible, freezing inhibits or stops the body's metabolic activity. Enzymes cannot soften and break down fish without free water.

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