An Outdoor View: On filling the freezer

In a perfect world, we’d be eating a sandwich made from the last of last year’s salmon while catching our first salmon of this year. In reality, we sometimes catch more salmon than we can eat. When this happens, the fish end up in the garbage or fed to animals. Here are some tips that might help you determine how many salmon you need.

Salmon that are properly cared for should still be in good shape after several months of storage. Much depends on how they are handled. Most importantly, fresh fish should be kept clean and cold. The sooner you get them frozen, canned or otherwise processed, the better they’ll taste when you eat them.

While your freezer is empty of fish, try to estimate how many salmon you’ll use between then and the next time you expect to bring some home. For example, let’s consider my situation, since my freezer is empty as I write this, earlier this week.

For starters, my wife and I pack our sockeye salmon in freezer bags that will usually hold half of a fillet. The packages will vary in size and weight, but that’s a good thing. We like leftover salmon. We usually cook for just the two of us, but occasionally have friends over for salmon.

I used to smoke salmon, but seldom do, anymore. If you smoke salmon, don’t forget to add the “smokers” to your calculations. Smoked salmon can be canned, or vacuum packed and frozen.

My wife and I don’t eat as much as we did when we were younger. Considering that the front half of a large sockeye fillet can weigh two pounds, we’ve found that one package — half a fillet — is about all the salmon we want in an average week. One large package will make three meals for us. It takes 13 sockeye to make a year’s worth of packages for the two of us. Add in the few times we feed guests salmon, and our estimate comes to 15.

Other factors can add to or subtract from the number of sockeyes I might want to bring home. Someone will sometimes ask me for a fish or two, so that can add a few for a given year. When I used to be able to bring home king salmon, I didn’t need as many sockeyes. I like to fish for silver salmon in the fall, so I like to leave a little space for a few of those. In years when I can’t catch enough reds, I can usually make up for it with silvers.

I used to give fish to Outside friends and relatives, but I’ve pretty much stopped doing that. It wasn’t appreciated enough to justify the work and expense. Worse, that fish often ended up in the bottom of a freezer, wasted. If you’re giving away fish, you might want to follow up and check on what’s happening to it. Also on this subject, giving away last year’s fish ensures that it won’t be appreciated.

From experience, I’ve found that the way fish is frozen and stored has much to do with its condition six months later. Putting fresh, raw fish on top of frozen fish in a freezer thaws the frozen fish. We have a large, upright freezer with cooling coils under the shelves that we use for freezing fish. We’ve found that handling the packages of vacuum-packed fish while they’re frozen can cause the bags to leak, so we don’t handle them any more than necessary.

By knowing how many fish you can use, and by taking proper care of those you keep, you’ll not only not waste it, but you’ll enjoy it more at the table.

For advice and free brochures on how to properly cook, care for and process fish and game, visit the Cooperative Extension Service office (43961 Kalifornski Beach Rd., Soldotna).

Les Palmer can be reached at les.palmer@rocketmail.com.

More in Life

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Once bitten

Just keep moving. For some people, it might be a mantra for… Continue reading

Joan Brown Dodd, left, and Doug Dodd pose for a photo at the Homer News on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Hero Unaware’ based on author’s compilation of father’s war correspondence.

Letters home span the entire length of World War II from a Navy corpsman’s perspective.

Mindful ramen. (Photo by Tressa Dale/For the Clarion)
Take guilt off menu with mindful ramen

I do a lot of preaching about healthy eating, but I have… Continue reading

Bonnie Marie Playle (file)
July Musings

July is the seventh month, and is called “Dog Days” because it’s… Continue reading

2007 photo by Clark Fair 
Sometimes called “Murder House” in the years after the killing, this dilapidated Quonset hut was the scene of the crime.
A killing close to home

By Clark Fair For the Peninsula Clarion We all hope we live… Continue reading

The stage for "Grounded" is seen inside of the Kenai Performers’ black box theatre on Monday, March 15 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Presenting Little Mermaid

Kenai Performers youth drama camp takes center stage

This rich Parmesan risotto makes a creamy base for mushrooms and kale. Photographed July 10, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Kale salad? Not so much

A cream risotto makes an indulgent base for the nutritional green

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: The generations … my how they flow by

It has been over 20 years since we had a 1-year-old in the house for any extended period of time.

This orange Julius swaps out the traditional egg whites with sweetened condensed milk, for a tangy and safe summer treat. Photographed July 4, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Adding some orange to the red, white and blue

A quintessentially American drink cools off any Fourth of July celebration.

Nick Varney (courtesy)
Flying fish and lead. Oh my!

Homer can become rather rowdy at times.

Pottery is on display on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at the Kenai Art Center, which is reopening on Thursday for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘The more we get together’

Kenai Art Center celebrates reopening with work from Potters’ Guild

Containing onions, carrots, shitake mushrooms and noodles Japchae is a stir-fried Korean vegetable and noodle dish that is delectable hot, cold and everywhere in between. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Noodles made with a loving hand

Japchae is a stir-fried Korean vegetable and noodle dish that is delectable hot, cold and everywhere in between