How Long Does Pickled Fish Last? An Ultimate Guide For Preserving Fish 

There are many ways to preserve fish, and pickling appears to be one of the most common choices. But how long does pickled fish last? 

Pickling is already a method for extending your food’s lifespan. If you know the tips, it can even last longer. 

This article will include everything you need to know about pickled fish and other effective ways to preserve your food. Let’s check it out! 

how long does pickled fish last

How Long Does Pickled Fish Last? 

Pickling is a simple way to preserve fish. When kept in the refrigerator at lower than 40°F, pickled fish can last for four to six weeks. 

Since pickling allows the flesh to stay longer than simple refrigeration and open-air preservation, pickled fish is a popular meal all throughout the world.

Pickled also has a mildly acidic and salty taste, which can help conceal some harsher fish smells.

The pickling method may differ from place to place. However, all follow the same principle: curing the fish with salt water brine and adding other spices.

Read also: The 9 Best Electric Fish Fillet Knives: Fish Prep Made Easier!

How To Pickle Fish? 

To pickle fish, you need the following ingredients:

  • Fish filets
  • Kosher salt
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Ground black pepper
  • Clovers
  • Mustard seeds
  • Lemon slices 

After gathering the necessary ingredients, let’s follow the following three steps:

Step 1: Brine the fish

Even if you can pickle entire fish or big filets, you won’t have the same level of control. Hence, cut the fish into smaller filets using a sharp knife.

Mix kosher salt and water to have a weak brine and boil the mixture until the salt dissolves. 

Put the fish filets in a glass or ceramic container after the brine has cooled down. 

Refrigerate the brined fish for 8 to 24 hours. Remember to drain off the brine when you take the container out of the refrigerator. 

Pour white vinegar into the flavored fish and put it back in the refrigerator. It needs to sit for at least one night there. 

Step 2: Pickle the fish

Make the pickling brine by boiling water, vinegar, spices, and sugar. You can add various flavors to the brine, depending on your taste. 

Simmer your fish for five to ten minutes on medium-low heat. If you can pierce the fish with a fork easily with the fish not falling apart, you can put it down. 

Transfer the fish and brine from the stovetop to a glass pan carefully. Then, put the pan in the refrigerator until the brine reaches at least room temperature.

Thinly stack the fish in sterilized glass jars. Also, add thin layers of onion slices, lemons, peppercorns, and bay leaves between the fish layers. 

Pour the brine through a filter into a jug or other pouring container. You can use a mesh sieve to filter peppercorns or bay leaves. 

Pour the filtered brine into the jar, fill them up to the top and seal the jar quickly. 

Step 3: Store the pickled fish

Now, put the jar in the refrigerator, and you can serve your picked fish within four to six weeks. 

Other Ways To Preserve Fish 

Pickling is not the only way to preserve fish. You can also try other methods. 


Freezing is the easier and most convenient method. Follow these steps to freeze your fish properly: 

  • Cut filets from huge fish and freeze whole tiny fish.
  • Wrap your fish filets in freezer bags. For better thawing, split the layers of fish into two layers of packing.
  • Mark the storage date on the package so that you can monitor the time. 
  • Set the freezer at 0°F or lower to provide the best environment for your fish. 

Other freezing instructions are as follows:

  • Place your fish in a pan or a watertight box.
  • Pour ice cubes into the box and put it in the freeze for 8 to 12 hours or until frozen.
  • Remove the black from the box and wrap. 
  • Mark the storage date on the package so that you can monitor the time. 
  • Set the freezer at 0°F or lower to provide the best environment for your fish. 

If you want to thaw your frozen fish, keep it in the fridge for half a day or a full day. You can also defrost in the microwave for five to seven minutes. 

Vacuum-packaged fish can last longer and taste excellent. However, thawing it requires more caution. It’s important to follow food safety in this job. 

Always take the fish out of the package before defrosting in the fridge or right away. Opening the box as it defrosts will release oxygen, which inhibits the formation of C. bot toxins attributed to botulism. 


You can use a standard heat-tempered jar for this method. 

Please note that fish is low in acid, and you can only process it safely at a temperature range that reaches the pressure canner. 

If not appropriately carried, harmful bacteria will form in the fish. 

The method of canning fish includes these steps: 

  • Remove the fish scales, fins, head, and tail. 
  • Wash the blood. 
  • Cut the fish into smaller filets. 
  • Fill pint jars with the skin side contacting the glass and one inch of headroom.
  • Do not add any liquid. All you have to do now is to adjust the lids and process. 


Smoking is a traditional method of preserving fish. Once you follow all the right steps, your fish will last long and taste wonderful. 

You can smoke many kinds of fish, such as salmon, suckers, carp, trout, chubs, and buffalo catfish. Try to use high-quality products for the smoking process to yield the best result. 

To smoke your fish, please take the following steps:

  • Wash your fish carefully.
  • Brine your fish with salt and spices. 
  • Refrigerate the brined fish for 12 hours. 
  • Rinse the brine from the fish. 
  • Put the fish in your smoker set at 100 F. 
  • While smoking, the temperature will rise up to 225. The flesh temperature should be 180, and remain that heat for 30 minutes. 
  • Refrigerate your smoked fish and serve it within one month.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Does pickled fish go bad?

Yes. Even when stored at an ideal temperature, your fish can only last for a few weeks. Remember to check its flavor, smell, and texture before eating. 

Q: Is pickled fish cooked?

We categorize picked fish into three types: cooked, raw, and pre-cured fish. Cooked fish demands more gentle marination as it has fewer bacteria. 

Q: How long does pickled fish last in the fridge?

If the temperature in your fridge is lower than 40°F, you can keep your pickled fish there for four to six weeks. 

Q: Why do we eat pickled fish on Good Friday?

On Good Friday, Jesus sacrificed his flesh. Hence, on Good Friday, people traditionally avoid eating meat.

Meanwhile, they see fish as a different type of flesh, which is acceptable to eat on that day.

Q: Is pickled fish good for you?

This food is beneficial for your health in some ways. For example:

  • Pickled fish can lower the chance of an abnormal cardiac rhythm. 
  • The food is rich in Vitamin B12, supporting various body systems, including the recovery of healthy nerve cells and normal brain activity.
  • Pickled fish contains iron, which assists in the body’s production of hemoglobin- a component of red blood cells and helps the blood transmit oxygen throughout our body.

However, pickled fish has a lot of sodium. It raises blood pressure and your chance of having a heart attack.


Pickled fish can remain edible for four to six weeks when stored in the refrigerator. It’s a health-benefit food that helps with your brain activities.

You can also choose other preservation methods, such as smoking, canning, and freezing. All of them can keep your food fresh and delicious for a long time. 

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