Are you so into the mild flavor of catfish? Welcome to our catfish fan club! We are here to share our experience in enjoying this tasty cuisine.
However, catfish will spoil over time, especially when not kept in optimal storage conditions like other fish. So how to tell if catfish is bad, and how can you store it properly?
Don’t worry! We will help you explore the signs of a spoiled catfish. You can also learn some pro tips to extend its lifespan and maintain its quality.
Now, let’s jump into the details!
How to Tell If Catfish Is Bad
There are five signs to help you tell if your catfish is bad: sell-by date, smell, color, texture, and taste. You should perform the test in that order.
If you buy catfish from the supermarket, check the sell-by date. It indicates the last day by which the market should sell the fish.
However, the label can only tell you are buying a fresh product. In some cases, some fish go bad before reaching that date. Meanwhile, some are still safe to eat even if they have passed their sell-by date, under specific storage conditions.
The unpleasant odor is one of the most obvious signs that your catfish has gone bad. While these fish have a mild, ocean-like aroma when fresh, they turn sour once spoiled. In the worst condition, they smell like rotting eggs or ammonia.
Fresh catfish are silver or white on the undersides and turn grayish-blue or black on the back. You will also notice a slight sheen on their skin.
However, the color turns dull gray or brown when they go bad. There can be discolored patches.
A fresh catfish is firm to the tough with hard scales. If it spoils, the texture will become slimy and mushy. As the decomposition process continues, slime buildup can make the fish slippery.
Besides, the skin of a spoiled catfish is soft and comes loose from the scales and flesh. You can test by depressing its skin with your finger. The lack of elasticity prevents it from returning to its original shape.
If you are not sure whether your catfish has gone bad, perform the final test: tasting it. Catfish have a mildly sweet flavor with a moist texture. It’s often less flaky than other types of white fish.
On the other hand, the spoiled catfish tastes sour. Believe us; you can immediately feel how terrible it is at the first bite.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Catfish
Eating bad catfish is a bad experience that you should never try. They won’t taste as good as you expect from fresh fish and cause a lot of trouble, such as:
When spoiled, catfish develop bacteria that produce toxins. Symptoms of food poisoning from spoiled fish include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal cramps and pain
In severe cases, food poisoning from contaminated catfish will cause hospitalization or even death. People with weak immune systems, such as kids, pregnant women, and the elderly, should be extra careful with what they eat.
Scombroid poisoning is a form of food poisoning. It refers to a foodborne disease caused by eating spoiled fish. The symptoms of this illness are:
- Blurred vision
- Abdominal cramps
- Breathing difficulty
- Irregular heartbeat
How Long Can Catfish Last?
It depends on where you keep the fish. You have three options as follows:
- At room temperature: 2 hours.
- In the fridge: 2 days.
- In the freezer: 5 to 6 months.
The different lifespan of catfish, when kept in different places, helps you choose the ideal method to store them.
At Room Temperature
If you intend to cook catfish right after buying or catching them, leave them on the countertop for no more than two hours.
Do not keep catfish there for too long because they will spoil quickly. When exposed to air, bacteria can grow rapidly on the surface and inside the fish.
In the Fridge
Fresh catfish can last in the fridge for two days. However, whether your fish can remain good after that time depends on how you refrigerate them. Here are some tips that help:
- Wash the catfish carefully to remove any dirt and debris from the surface.
- Remember to pat the fish with a paper towel before storing them.
- Wrap the fish in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, so air can’t get inside.
- Put the fish in the coldest part of your fridge and away from other foods to avoid cross-contamination.
In the Freezer
Freezing helps your catfish the longest. If you intend to store them for months, consider freezing them. But try to do it correctly, or all you have after months of freezing is the spoiled fish.
Here are some important things to bear in mind when freezing catfish:
- Wash and pat the fish to dry as you do when refrigerating them.
- You can wrap the catfish in their original packing in aluminum foil. Alternatively, put them in a freezer ziplock bag with some water inside. Don’t forget to squeeze all the air in the bag before putting it in the freezer.
- Label the bag with the date and freeze it at 0°F or below.
Other Ways to Keep Catfish for Longer
Refrigerating and freezing are the two most popular storage methods. However, you can also consider canning and curing catfish to preserve their quality.
Canning catfish involves cooking them in a sealed container under high pressure. This method will destroy bacteria, keeping the fish in good condition for years.
Often, commercially canned catfish can last for five years. Meanwhile, home canning is good for only one year.
However, you must follow the correct canning techniques. It’s about using the right pressure canner, temperature, and pressure to process the catfish.
Curing can be salting or smoking. If you smoke fresh fish and vacuum pack them, they can last about three weeks. And if you freeze them after smoking, they can remain edible for three months.
Salting is also an excellent cooking method. Once salted with salt, sugar, and spices, catfish can last three to five days in the fridge.
Related: Is raw catfish edible?
You can easily determine whether your catfish has gone bad by sight, touch, and smell. Do not eat spoiled fish, or you will suffer health issues.
Instead, learn how to store the catfish properly. Often, they can last the longest in the freezer. But refrigerating them can be a good idea if you intend to cook them within two days.
The next time you are at the supermarket, use these tips to select fresh catfish. And do not forget to visit our website for more useful knowledge.
Happy cooking time!