Can you freeze tuna salad?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you freeze tuna salad?”, and how to freeze tuna salad?

This article also includes a brief guide on how to tell if the tuna salad is bad.

Can you freeze tuna salad?

NoYes, you can’tcan´t freeze tuna salad. But all recipes of tuna salad are not fit for freezing. Some types of tuna salad are better at withstanding the freezing temperatures than others. The US Department of Agriculture does not recommend freezing tuna salad. In the refrigerator, tuna salad can be stored for 3-5 days (2).

For example, tuna salad with dairy ingredients like mayonnaise, cream cheese, etc won’t last long in the freezer. 

A study reported the contamination of tuna fish burgers by toxic histamine. The tuna was submitted to multiple freezing and thawing cycles, which is common for tuna used to produce tuna salad and tuna burgers. Histamine poisoning is a chemical intoxication with a short incubation period. The symptoms include tingling and burning sensations around the mouth, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and palpitation (3). 

They’re best consumed fresh or better stored in the fridge. Other types of tuna salad with vinegar-based salad dressings can be safely frozen for up to 1-2 months.

The international trade in fish continues to be heavily skewed toward the EU, USA and Japan (the global ‘Triad’). They totalled 64% of the value of world seafood trade in 2012, with the EU at 36% (including intra-EU trade) and Japan and the USA at 14% each (1).

How to freeze the tuna salad?

First of all, divide the tuna salad into portions so that you can easily thaw just the right amount of tuna salad at once. 

Then pack away each portion of the tuna salad in an air-tight container or a freezer bag. If you opt for a freezer bag, make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible. 

This is important because the sir inside the freezer can infiltrate the storage container and cause freezer burn. 

If you opt for an air-tight container, leave 1-½-inches headspace for expansion. Last but not the least, label the storage container and freezer.

Fresh tuna salad recipe 

Ingredients 

  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1 shredded carrot
  • 1 chopped celery stalk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Things you’ll need 

  • Large bowl
  • Storage container
  • Freezer bag

Instructions 

  1. Drain the canned tuna. De-seed the avocado and take out all its flesh in a bowl. Mash the tuna and avocado using a fork.
  2. Season the mixture with lemon juice, salt, pepper, etc.
  3. Divide the salad into portions and transfer them into an air-tight container or freezer bag.
  4. Store in the freezer for several months. Consume within 1-2 months for best taste.

What kind of tuna should be used to make tuna salad?

You can get two types of tuna in canned form; solid white albacore and skipjack/light tuna.

  1. Solid-white albacore is quite expensive and may contain higher levels of mercury than other types of tuna. Limit its use to only once per week to avoid mercury toxicity. Albacore is low in fats and rich in omega-3 fats.

It has a very mild flavor unlike the strong fishy flavor of most types of fish including tuna. Due to its white color, it mimics the appearance of a baked chicken breast. It can either be solid white or light pink with a firm texture.

  1. Skipjack is a very common canned tuna variety. It is economical but tastes strongly fishy. It has reduced levels of mercury so you can eat it multiple times a week to meet the omega-3 needs of your body. 

It has a mushy texture and is often used in sushi because of its similar quality to the yellowfin tuna.

How to tell if tuna salad is bad?

Tuna salad made with mayo should never be stored for extended periods. Mayo contains eggs. Meat and eggs do not last long in the fridge. Look for the following signs if you are unsure if the salad is spoiled or safe to eat.

  1. You can immediately tell if the tuna salad is bad or not by looking at it. If you notice discolored spots or patches on the salad surface, toss it in the bin immediately. The spots could be green or brown. Discolouration characterized by persistent flushed pink, orange or green colors in the flesh exceeding 5% drained contents are also signs of spoilage (5).
  2. Tuna already has a strong fishy taste. Therefore, smelling the salad to test if it is spoiled or not doesn’t sound very reliable. One should always go with the gut feeling. If something smells off about the tuna salad, throw it away. A rancid odor characterized by the distinct or readily detectable persistent odor of oxidized oil; or Flavor characterized by distinct flavors present individually or in combination as follows: bitter, sour, metallic flavors detected at the sides and back of the tongue leaving a lingering aftertaste indicates spoilage of the tuna (5).
  1. Always label the container before storing anything so you know you have to consume the salad within 3-5 days. Past 3-5 days of storage, it is best to not consume the salad as there are high chances of contamination and spoilage.
  2. Changes in the texture: Breakdown of muscle structure characterized by muscle fibers no longer being detectable resulting in the presence of small particles and/or granular, gritty or pasty texture exceeding 20% of the drained content are signs of deterioration of the product (5).

A study clearly shows that quality characteristics of the canned fish (Organoleptic-taste, texture, rigidity of flesh, appearance, etc) deteriorates after opening the can and subsequent storage under any medium. Also, there is a steady bacterial build up as the length of storage increases. No form of storage, however cold, even at -4°C will halt spoilage due to bacterial multiplication (4).

How to use tuna salad?

Tuna salad is extremely versatile. You can either eat it as a midday snack, filling for a sandwich, or spread it on a toast, or eat it as is. 

Tuna salad typically includes canned tuna, mayonnaise, red onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, and celery. 

Lemon juice or mustard can be added for a tangy hint. Mayo can be substituted with a healthier option like avocado paste or hummus sauce.

Other FAQs about Salad that you may be interested in.

How to make subway salad?

Can salad dressing go bad?

What happens If you eat expired salad dressing?

How long is pasta salad good for in the fridge?

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “Can you freeze tuna salad?”, and how to freeze tuna salad?

References

  1. Campling, Liam. Trade politics and the global production of canned tuna. Marine Policy, 2016, 69, 220-228.
  2. Penner, Karen P., and Karen Blakeslee. Safe Food Storage: The Refrigerator and Freezer. Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, 2014.
  3. Becker, Karen, et al. Histamine poisoning associated with eating tuna burgers. JAMA, 2001, 285, 1327-1330.
  4. Oyelese, O. A., and M. O. Opatokun. Exposure time on bacteria flora/count and shelf life of canned sardine (Sardinella pilchardus) under ambient and cold storage conditions. J food process preserv, 2007, 31, 517-530.
  5. Suwanrangsi, Sirilak, et al. Sensory evaluation of tuna. Canned Tuna Quality Management Manual. Marine Fisheries Research Department, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, 1995. 93-114.