Freeze Fish Fillets Without Freezer Burn

A great fishing trip is usually followed by some extra work and trouble once you get home. You have all these fish, but storing it turns out to be an issue. Of course, your first task is to gut and fillet it, but then what? Most people tend to throw the fish fillet in the freezer, but this might not be the brightest idea if you do not prepare for freezer burn. Especially if you plan on storing it for more than a few days. Having your freshly caught fish ruined by your freezer is certainly not something that you want to experience.

But how do you freeze fish fillets without freezer burn? Below, we will go over two of the most popular ways to do this. One of them is quite common but requires extra equipment. The other one, however, is much simpler and easier to perform – it can even come in handy when you want to freeze all sorts of stuff without risking freezer burn.

But before we get to these two points, let’s talk about the issue we are trying to tackle here – freezer burn.

Why Does Freezer Burn Happen?

Freezer burn typically happens because the meat you are storing is exposed to air and moisture. Naturally, this means that drying off your meat and vacuuming it is the way to go. However, this is easier said than done – vacuuming requires equipment, and drying off meat can be tedious, especially when dealing with large quantities. While you may skip the former by using a different approach, there is no way to go around the latter – drying off your fish fillets is a must.

Failing to prevent freezer burn may result in your fish fillets being ruined. It can drastically change the quality of the food, form crystals, discolor meat, and even change the texture of the fillets. Needless to say, these are all things that you want to avoid at all costs. Keep in mind that freezer burn does not render food inedible – however, it will likely ruin the final dish.

Do You Need A Vacuum Sealer?

It is already clear that a plain zip bag might not do the trick. Most people prefer to rely on a vacuum sealer to freeze fish fillets without freezer burn. The machines are relatively cheap, and they come in various sizes. Of course, you will also need to spend a few cents on the little bags they use. The process is quick and easy – but costs a few dozen dollars.

While many people think that vacuum sealers are mandatory to prevent freezer burn, this is not true. There is an alternative way to freeze fish fillets without freezer burn, as well as all sorts of other meats. But before we get to that, let’s talk about how to freeze fish with a vacuum sealer.

Use a Vacuum Sealer to Freeze Fish Fillets without Freezer Burn

Let’s assume that you already have the machine and little bags ready. So, what next? Do you just throw the fillets in, and let it to do its work? No – there is some preparation that you will need to take care of first.

We already discussed the two main elements leading to freezer burn – air and moisture. Air is easy to deal with, thanks to the vacuum machine. With this out of the way, all you need to do is to prepare your fish fillets for storage. Once you have cleaned and cut them nicely, you should wash them well by using cold water – it helps to keep the meat firm. After this, pat them dry – pay extra attention to this step, as you do not want any extra moisture. Finally, pick a baggy with the correct size, and run the vacuum sealer.

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How to Freeze Fish Fillets without Freezer Burn and without a Vacuum Sealer

Now, if you do not wish to bother with a vacuum sealer, or you simply do not have one right now, then here is the alternative technique you have been looking for – frozen fish fillets in a block of water. This sounds simple enough, but we are not done yet – we have some valuable advice on how to perfect the process and minimize the risk of encountering any issues.

Make sure to manage portion sizes carefully because when you defrost one of the bags, you will need to cook it – refreezing it is not an option. The same applies when using a vacuum sealer – managing portions is something that you should think of in advance.

Once you have the portion figured out, pick a Ziploc bag that is slightly larger than the fish fillet you are about to store. Why? Because you want to have some space on top so that the water can nicely cover the meat. This also minimizes the risk of the meat floating out of the water. Keep in mind that you are using a Ziploc bag – you will not be able to get all the air out, so the water acts as a sealant to freeze fish fillets without freezer burn.

Now that you have the fish fillets and the water in a bag, it is time to think of storage. One option is to use a flat surface, but this might still be a bit uncomfortable – the bags will end up freezing in weird shapes. A neat trick that can solve this is to use Tupperware or any sort of plastic container. Pick a size that somewhat matches the one of your bag of fish fillets, and stuff it inside. Make sure that there is enough water on top to cover the meat entirely.

Once it freezes, you can take it out and have a perfect block of frozen fish fillet that is 100% protected against freezer burn. This also makes it much easier to arrange and store your meat without wasting any space at all. Last but not least, make sure to tag the bags with the date on which the meat was frozen – future you will thank you for this information.

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Fishing Report from TPWD (Nov. 30)

GOOD. Water stained; 59 degrees; 4.25 feet low. GOOD. The water level is 167.7 with no generators running. Water temperature at the Dam is 59 degrees. The back feeder creeks are stained and muddy with lots of Fall leaves floating on the surface, and the main lake remains clear. We were blessed with some rain this week 2-3 inches. Not much has changed on the pattern this week. Chatter baits are still producing in 3/8 to 3/4 ounce white, chartreuse, watermelon pepper, and red/black skirts. To cover a lot of water, use a square bill crank bait or a flat side crank bait and smaller rattle traps from 0-8 feet in shad and perch imitation colors and the Rayburn red traps are still working. For deeper Bass, cast a Carolina rig with a worm or lizard. Jigging spoons are still producing quality bass on 1/2 to 3/4 ounce (silver with a white or yellow accent tail feather or a deep diving crank bait in citrus shad and Tennessee shad colors). The jig and pig bite has been strong. Cast your jig to long tapering points that drop off into deep water, the best colors are black and blue, PB&J football jigs 3/8 - 3/4 ounce with a 3-inch matching color craw trailer, and a green pumpkin jig with a chunk style trailer. The Crappie bite is still good in 12-20 feet on the edge of the river channels using 1/16- and 3/32-ounce Wager Baits, #46 Bluegrass, #3 Monkey Milk, #09 Electric Chicken, #10 Black and Chartreuse and small minnows depending on the cloud cover and cooling night temperatures. Now that the lake is at a Winter drawdown, it's prime time to go out scouting for new areas for Springtime fishing. Look for areas like feeder creeks, ditches, man-made structures, creek bends and undercuts, etc. Reminder: Keep and extra set of clothes in a dry bag stowed away on your vessel just in case you get caught in the rain, heavy winds, etc. Hypothermia happens quickly. Good luck and keep casting forward! Report from Master Captain Steve “Scooby” Stubbe, Mudfish Adventures LLC, Orv

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