How to tell if fish is fresh

There are many substantial health benefits to eating fish on a regular basis:


Photo Credit: Charlie Brewer at http://www.flickr.com/photos/charliebrewer/60778805/

  • Eating fish at least once a week lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Fish are an excellent source of protein, calcium, minerals (phosphorus, iron, potassium, etc.) and vitamins (thiamine, niacin, etc.)
  • Fatty and oily fish contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids

However, as a frugal consumer, eating fish on a regular basis can seem like a lofty and impossible goal. Fish can be expensive! A nice fillet of salmon can run you $5-6 per serving, while halibut and sea bass can get even pricier.  One great way to reduce the cost of eating fish is to cut your own fish fillets.  But in order to take advantage of cutting your own fillets, you have to know how to buy fish – specifically, how to tell if a fish is fresh.  It seems like a common sense thing right?  But when you find a shrink-wrapped salmon or a tuna on ice, it can be difficult to tell if you’re getting good value for your dollars.  Here’s what to look for:


Look at it!

  • Is the fish shiny and glistening?  Or are the scales dull and the flesh grey?  Fresh fish should have a vibrant, shiny appearance.
  • Does it have all its scales?  Fish like salmon should have its scales intact, not flaking off or missing.
  • Are the eyes bright?  Even dead, fish eyes should be bright and clear, not cloudy or glazed.

Smell it!

  • Fresh fish does not actually smell “fishy”, thought it may smell of the sea – any strongly rank smells indicates an old product

Touch it!

  • Does the flesh spring back if you poke it?  If it’s fresh, it should.
  • Does the fillet split apart if you bend it?  If it does, it may be old.  The fillet should be firm to the touch, not brittle.

Take a look at these other sites for good fish purchasing tips – and good luck!




Posted in: Food and Grocery

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