FAQs

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Many crustaceans, especially mud crabs, rocklobsters, yabbies and marrons, are sold live, so that they’re as fresh as possible when they’re cooked. When you buy them, they should be lively with a hard shell (indicating that they haven’t recently moulted) and all limbs and antennae intact. Fishmongers usually store live crabs, marron and yabbies out of the water, while rocklobsters, and live bugs, are best stored in a tank. Buy live crustaceans as close as possible to when you plan to cook them. Store them in a covered container, with ventilation holes in the top and wet butcher’s paper or cloth in the bottom and keep them in the coolest part of the house (below 20°C) for up to 2 days. Live bugs won’t survive long out of water and deteriorate quickly once dead, so cook them on the day they’re purchased.

 

 

Live unopened oysters are quite hardy; they can be kept in the warmest part of the fridge (usually the crisper) for up to a week, covered with a cloth that is kept damp. Shuck them just before you want to eat them. Mussels, pipis, vongole and other clams should all be live when you buy them, and should be eaten as soon as possible after purchase. They can be stored, covered, in the warmest part of the fridge (usually the crisper), overnight, with the covering kept damp. Pipis, vongole and other clams (but not mussels) grow in a sandy environment and so need to be purged; they can be stored in cold salted water (30g salt/litre water) in a cool place (not refrigerated) for a few hours.

 

 
 

Fresh Prawns (cooked or raw) can be refrigerated for 2-3 days between 0 and 4ºC. Leave them in their shells, place them in a single layer on a plate or tray, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the coldest part of the fridge. Fresh Prawns (cooked or raw) that have never been frozen, can be frozen for up to 3 months at -18ºC or below. If you plan to freeze Prawns, ask your fishmonger whether they have already been frozen and thawed – if so, use them as soon as possible and do not refreeze. Some domestic refrigerators and freezers do not run as low as the above temperatures; if in doubt check your fridge or freezer’s temperature or store for a shorter time.

 
The simple answer is 6 months for whole, non-oily fish and 3 months for everything else, which includes oily fish (whole or otherwise), any pieces of fish (such as fillets, cutlets and steaks) and all shellfish, including crustaceans (such as rocklobsters, prawns, crabs) and molluscs (such as mussels, abalone, squid). 

The important thing to remember is that these time periods are only valid if the seafood is stored at -18°C or less and some domestic freezers do not get this low, so, if in doubt, check your freezer’s temperature or freeze for shorter periods of time. 

Better still, whenever possible, buy fresh Australian seafood and eat it as soon as possible while it’s still at its freshest and tastiest.
 

Oysters are best eaten freshly shucked (opened). Once opened they quickly lose flavour and texture, and after 24 hours they’re more suitable for cooking than eating raw. The soft flesh will break down if frozen and thawed; so while they can be frozen, once thawed they’ll only be suitable for blending into a chowder or similar dish where their flavour rather than their texture is important. To freeze: remove Oysters from their shells, pack into a small airtight container and freeze below -18ºC for maximum 3 months.

 

First check that the country you are travelling to allows the importation of seafood. The Australian airline industry has very stringent guidelines about packaging for fresh chilled and live seafood that is being transported by air. Basically, they require seafood to be packed in approved polystyrene or fibreboard boxes (an esky is suitable) with leak-proof liners, gelled ice packs (where relevant) and absorbent pads, well-sealed with plastic tape. The box must be checked in and dry ice is not permitted.
More details at www.qantas.com.au/cargo/pdf/SATRegulations.pdf

 
How should I store live crabs and rocklobsters?

Many crustaceans, especially mud crabs, rocklobsters, yabbies and marrons, are sold live, so that they’re as fresh as possible when they’re cooked. When you buy them, they should be lively with a hard shell (indicating that they haven’t recently moulted) and all limbs and antennae intact. Fishmongers usually store live crabs, marron and yabbies out of the water, while rocklobsters, and live bugs, are best stored in a tank. Buy live crustaceans as close as possible to when you plan to cook them. Store them in a covered container, with ventilation holes in the top and wet butcher’s paper or cloth in the bottom and keep them in the coolest part of the house (below 20°C) for up to 2 days. Live bugs won’t survive long out of water and deteriorate quickly once dead, so cook them on the day they’re purchased.