I just found a couple of salmon fillets in my freezer that seem to have been there for about two years. Are they still edible, or should I bin them?

  • 4
    My personal approach is to bin anything that I'm really unsure about.
    – yossarian
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 15:07
  • @yossarian: Well I usually use it if it smells and looks okay, but with frozen food you can't really tell. I figure it'll either be perfectly safe to eat or a complete no-go, but I've no idea which, hence why I'm asking! Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 15:11
  • How are they packaged? (Vacuum-sealed, wrapped in paper, zipper bags?) Commented May 27, 2013 at 1:19

6 Answers 6


I agree with yossarian, if I question it, I chuck it. Although in this case, the salmon probably will not harm you, it might just taste bad. Loss of moisture (freezer burn), taking on of flavours, etc. I wouldn't eat it because it wouldn't taste great. My father-in-law would eat it, because you don't throw out food (his rule). Bottom line, if it has been in the freezer for those two years straight, it won't give you food poisoning or harm you. It's just a matter of palate. But rest assured, it won't taste great.

  • Depends on freezer temp too. If your freezer is just barely freezing, there's a chance (albeit a small one) something could spoil in the freezer. If it's good and cold though, nothing will ever spoil in there, it'll just, like you said, taste bad. Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 18:53
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    The other reason to chuck if you're worried about it is that even if it's fine, you're going to be fretting about it the whole time and won't enjoy it.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jan 15, 2011 at 19:12

My grandfather was a commercial fisherman on the NW Pacific coast. He used to salmon charter fish. When he had fish that was "aged" in the freezer he used to make sure he thawed it COVERED in milk. If it was overly fishy, the milk caused the fish to sweeten. You can smell the fish when it is completely thawed and check it's consistency. If it smells fine, and has good consistency for salmon just prepare it with a nice lemon sauce. You can always cook it and then mash it as a pate with herbs and onion for wonderful cracker snacks.

  • And thank you for that tip! I will definitely be using it in the future (if needed). Commented Jan 15, 2011 at 3:12

I guess I would take a different approach. I would first thaw the salmon and see if it looked and smelled OK, and if it did I would find a way to use it. True, it probably won't taste as good as it would have the day it went into the freezer, but would probably be palatable in some way. Maybe used in salmon cakes? or a salmon chowder.

I have found and used walleye fillets in my freezer that were several years old (I used to bad at labeling) that tasted just fine. I figure an animal died to provide me this meat, so I should do everything I can to make sure that it is used.

  • 1
    I take the same approach with frozen foods I find in the back of my freezer from back when I was terrible at labeling things. I maintain my freezer below 0 and regularly check it, so I know it's "safe" in the "not going to kill me" sense, so I just turn it into something that can mask the freezer burn. Soup/chowder sounds great to me. Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 16:03
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    @stephenmcdonald: you have your freezer below zero? Isn't that what a freezer is meant to do? Oh... I see, Fahrenheit. ;-) Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 18:10

I fish in Alaska and have eaten 2 year frozen Salmon that was so freezer burned that I had to cut half of it away, but after 45 minutes on my Treager wood pellet grill it was delicious.


Frozen Fish Can Be Stored Indefinitely

According to the USDA, frozen foods will keep indefinitely if stored in an airtight package at a constant temperature at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing fish does not decrease its nutritional value. Freezer burn may dry the fish out in spots, but it is still safe to eat.


I see no-one has bothered to listen to the posting guidelines in terms of answering the question. No don't eat it. It is way past food safety recommendations. If you were a restaurant, cafe or any food outlet the maximum "use by" for all products that are frozen is 6 months. There are reasons for this, the cell walls get damaged and freezer burn sets in where a certain dryness affects the quality of the food so even though it may not kill you the quality would probably have deteriorated. Bacteria lays dormant in a freezer so they wouldn't spoil like in a fridge or at room temperature but still be active once defrosted.

I hope this helps people. You should really stick a label on your frozen things to help keep track of the date

  • 4
    There is a fundamental difference between food safety and food quality. Think of a undercooked chicken breast vs. a very cooked through one. As far as frozen food is concerned, we are dealing with quality, hence no one broke any guidelines.
    – Stephie
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 15:33

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