If you’ve ever felt confused about the difference between fresh and frozen salmon when shopping online for home delivery, know that you’re not alone. These adjectives don’t always mean they seem to at first glance, especially if you’re not familiar with common salmon processing and shipping practices. Most of the time—and especially if you’re not in Alaska or along the coast of the Pacific Northwest—then you’re going to be shopping for frozen (or previously frozen) salmon.

We’ll get into some of the exceptions that prove the rule and other interesting tidbits, but let’s first start with some basic information that will ensure you never have to feel confused by fresh vs. frozen salmon delivery. Unless the company is very clear that it’s selling fresh wild Alaskan salmon online, you’re almost surely talking about previously frozen salmon.

Even still, you need to read the Shipping information or FAQ resource on that website to know for sure whether your salmon will arrive fresh or frozen. It takes about 24 hours for frozen and vacuum-sealed salmon to thaw, so keep this in mind if you’re looking for salmon delivery to cook for a meal that same day.

 

Fresh Seafood Markets and Delivery Options

If you’re ordering from a local distributor that’s no more than a couple hundred miles away, overnight ground transportation at a reasonable cost is probably doable. But even then, you’ll want to check with that distributor if you’re trying to find never frozen salmon products. Most of the time, these fresh salmon delivery options are catering to the last-minute party or meal planner. Wild Alaskan salmon that’s been previously frozen but pre-thawed for your convenience can still make for a meal that will wow your party guests.

Edible vs. Delectable

Yes, in theory, never frozen salmon is the absolute best-tasting result you can get. The problem is to achieve this type of straight-out-of-the-water freshness, you need to clean and cook the salmon within hours of harvest. The quality of fresh and unfrozen salmon will begin to deteriorate almost immediately with the general guideline to cook and consume most refrigerated seafood within a day or two. Fresh salmon packed with an abundant amount of ice or frozen gel packs might last as long as 72-96 hours before becoming inedible. If the unfrozen salmon isn’t properly refrigerated, it can go bad within a day during a particularly warm Alaskan afternoon. Even if the salmon isn’t carrying foodborne illness yet, it may have a slightly spoiled taste. Compared to salmon that’s immediately cleaned, flash-frozen, and vacuum-sealed for shipping to your front door, never-frozen salmon that’s shipped overnight may be the inferior choice.

 

So, How Close is Close Enough?

There’s no exact mileage, but most of the time, you need to be close enough for “overnight ground shipping.” That minimizes the chances of delay, miscommunication, and other logistical issues with transporting fresh seafood. There’s also no clear-cut right answer between, say, fresh salmon that’s cooked and eaten 24 hours after harvesting and salmon that was processed and flash-frozen within 4 hours of harvesting. It’s also worth pointing out that many salmon are partially processed on tender boats that do a way better job of preserving salmon than your average home refrigerator.

Here’s a related question: How much are you willing to pay for personal harvesting and overnight express shipping request? Put another way, you might be the exception that proves the rule if you personally know a fisherman who’s willing to catch salmon out of the sea, immediately clean the salmon, generously pack some not-quite-frozen fillets, and then take the package to a prearranged overnight express flight to your hometown.

 

Start Comparison Shopping for Salmon Delivery Prices

Ready to start shopping for your next fresh or frozen salmon delivery? There’s no better place than our side-by-side marketplace comparison of wild Alaskan salmon companies and delivery costs including price per pound of salmon.