Gina Florio
Updated March 10, 2017 10:36 am

As we’re spring cleaning our way to a functional kitchen, one question we keep coming back to is how long things like fish and shellfish stay fresh in the fridge. The last thing you want to happen when you’re starving on a busy weeknight is to reach into the fridge for that last piece of salmon, only to be met with a scent so horrendous you feel like puking. Seafood is one of those foods you have to keep an eye on in the fridge, more so than chicken or beef, since it spoils faster. But how long, really, can fish last in the fridge until it goes bad?

The rule is pretty simple: Raw fish and shellfish stays good in the fridge for up to 2 days after you purchase it. Sometimes it can last up to three days if it’s been stored properly, but that usually applies to a whole fish rather than fillets. Whether it’s fillets or a whole fish, just make sure you smell it first before you cook with it. If it smells a bad kind of fishy that makes you grimace, it’s done for. Abort.

It’s actually best to cook your fish the same day you buy it, but that’s not always possible. Life just gets in the way. If that’s the case, when you put away your fish, never put it in the freezer. Seal it in a bag and store it on ice in the fridge. But make sure the fish doesn’t ever come into direct contact with the ice.

When it comes to shellfish, put it in a bowl covered with a paper towel, and put it in the fridge as well. Things like oysters and clams should be covered with a damp paper towel in a container that allows it to drain while it’s in the fridge.

After fish or shellfish has been cooked, it can last in your fridge for up to three or four days, as long as you store it in the fridge in an airtight container. Use the same common sense as you would for raw fish — if it smells off, it most likely is and you shouldn’t eat it.

Trust your nose, follow the two-day rule, and you’ll be good to go. Happy cooking!