Salmon is not only delicious but is highly nutritious as well. This popular oily fish is a rich source of omega3 fatty acids that provide a range of health benefits. To ensure you enjoy maximum benefits, it is important to consume salmon fresh. You have to consider a few important things to tell if that cut of fish is still good and fresh. Let's find out more about how to tell if salmon is bad.

How to Tell If Salmon Is Expired

Just by having a closer look at the piece, you can tell a lot about the quality of salmon. You can check its appearance and tell about its freshness from its smell. Here are some simple ways to confirm the salmon you are going to prepare has not expired yet.

Check Its Appearance

How a piece of salmon looks tells a lot about its freshness. If the piece is still in good condition, it will have a deep pink or orange color. Do not waste time cooking a piece of salmon that looks pale or dull. Similarly, you can also check the quality of salmon from white or dark spots on the flesh. If there are spots and the color of the salmon is not uniform, avoid eating it.


Check Its Firmness

The fresh salmon is usually firm. There are white lines in salmon which can help maintain its firmness. If the piece you are going to cook is old, you will find that those lines have gradually separated. This will affect the firmness of the fillet and the meat may start to break while being handled. If that is the case, the salmon is not fresh to eat.


Check Its Smell

Checking the smell is an obvious way to tell if salmon is bad. The smell of fresh salmon can never be intense or unpleasant. If a piece of salmon has strong smell, you should not consume it to avoid food poisoning.


Check Its Eyes

This applies when you bought a complete salmon with head still intact. The eyes of a fresh salmon should be bright with a relatively dark pupil. The eyes would be bulging out slightly. Do not buy it if the eyes are sunken into the socket. Moreover, the eyes should not have any stains either.


Check the Inner Muscle Tissue

It is a good idea to check the quality of the inner muscle tissues to tell whether the salmon has gone off or not. There should be lines out there and they should hold together on to the fish tightly. If you notice there are gaps in the fish, the fish has probably expired.


Check Its Texture

You can judge the freshness of salmon by touching its flesh and feeling the texture. If it is fresh, it will have a slight firm and non-slimy feel. A thin coat of slime usually develops on top of salmon when it goes off. Do not confuse the light shine with slime – fresh salmon will have that light shine, which is not from slime.

How Long Does Salmon Last?

So many factors go into determining the shelf life of salmon. Some of the most common factors include the sell by date, the storage method, and what preparation method you use.

Shelf Life of Differently Cooked/Stored Salmon (Past Printed Date)

Fresh Salmon6-9 months1-2 days-
Smoked Salmon6-9 months5-7 days1-2 weeks
Cooked salmon6-9 months5-6 days-
Canned salmon9-12 months6-8 months6-8 months
Frozen salmon6-9 months4-5 days-

How to Store Salmon to Retain Freshness

Knowing how to tell if salmon is bad helps make a right decision, but you also need to understand how to store it properly to retain its freshness. Storing your salmon in the refrigerator immediately after use will increase its shelf life. Use a tightly closed container to store salmon that you have already prepared. This is important to keep moisture and other contaminants from damaging your salmon. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

Be sure to store fresh salmon immediately after you purchase it.


Use plastic wrap to cover the salmon completely – you should not store it for more than 2 days after you have bought it.


Do not use packaged fresh salmon 2 days after its expiration date (mentioned on the package).


Use the following tips when storing fresh salmon in the freezer to improve its shelf life:

  • Use some moisture-proof paper or a sealed plastic bag to wrap and store the salmon.

  • Never store fresh salmon for more than 6-9 months after the expiration date mentioned on the package.

  • Ensure that frozen salmon should be kept frozen until the day before cooking. Defrost it in the refrigerator first or submerge it in a bowl of cold water before using it.


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