I love salmon. I eat it raw, cooked, by itself, on bagels, in dips, and I even share the leftovers with my cats. They’re also huge salmon fans. I guess it runs in the family.
But, with any seafood, it’s normal to wonder if you can it raw or cured. We’ve seen a common question on the Internet: Is cured salmon safe to eat?
Yes, it is. The curing process helps to stop the growth of bacteria and maintain the quality of the fish.
We expand on that point and more in this article to ensure you have a strong understanding of how curing works, the minor potential risks of curing, and other tips on how to preserve your salmon so you can safely eat it at a later date.
We cover the following items in this post:
- What Does Curing Salmon Do?
- Is Cured Salmon Safe to Eat?
- Is Cured Salmon Good for You?
- How To Preserve Salmon
- Final Thoughts: Is Cured Salmon Safe to Eat?
What Does Curing Salmon Do?
Curing is the process of preserving meat through the addition of an agent that helps to maintain taste and texture, as well as extends the life of meat so it can be safely eaten. Common curing techniques involve adding salt, sugar, nitrates and nitrites, or smoking meat.
Curing salmon helps:
- Prevent bacteria growth
- Preserve taste
- Preserve texture
- Maintain color
- Preserve the overall quality of the meat for a longer period of time
Salmon is commonly cured in salt and/or sugar. The meat is coated and then stored for a period of hours or even a few days to ensure the meat is properly cured to your liking. The sugar helps to reduce the strength of salt flavor and can assist in the growth of healthy bacteria.
Normally, we depend upon the cooking process to kill off bacteria and make the fish safe to consume, but curing can do the same thing and gives you the opportunity to enjoy salmon in a different way, with a slightly different texture and flavor.
Is Cured Salmon Safe to Eat?
Cured salmon is safe to eat, provided that the salmon has been properly handled and stored according to FDA regulations. In general, salmon is frozen before it is sold, and this process is enough to kill any parasites that may be present in the fish. The curing process then helps to fight off additional bacteria growth.
The curing process is a major reason why you can eat raw smoked salmon!
Is Cured Salmon Good for You?
It can be, as long as you eat it in moderation.
Cured salmon is often smoked as well, and there are quite a few health benefits to smoked salmon. Some worth highlighting include:
- Improves brain health
- Reduces anxiety
- Assists in maintaining your weight as it’s low in calories and high in protein
- Reduces cardiovascular disease risks
- Contains omega-3 fatty acids
- Combats inflammation
- Has vitamins B12, A, and E
Just note that cured salmon may have high volumes of sodium, so be sure not to overdo it, especially if you have any health issues like high blood pressure. For example, let’s look at your average serving of smoked salmon.
- Smoked salmon has roughly 600 – 1,200 mg of sodium per every 3.5 ounces.
- The daily recommendation by the FDA is no more than 2,300 mg per day.
As such, smoked salmon can very quickly meet or exceed your daily sodium requirements. Especially if you have quite a bit of it.
How To Preserve Salmon
Salmon can be preserved in several different ways. The most popular methods include:
- Curing the fish through salt and/or sugar
- Freezing the fish in a vacuum-sealed bag
- Pickling the salmon
- Smoking the salmon
- Refrigerating the fish (for no more than 2 days, per USDA)
In my house, we freeze salmon when we want to preserve it. However, we generally don’t get to that point as we devour it as soon as we get our hands on it.
Final Thoughts: Is Cured Salmon Safe to Eat?
Cured salmon is safe to eat. It’s an extremely popular practice to prevent bacteria growth, as well as protect the flavor and texture of the fish. It’s a major reason why both cold and hot-smoked salmon are ready to eat right from the store.
Like everything else in this life, it’s best to eat cured salmon in moderation. The high sodium levels can be dangerous to some with preexisting conditions, so be cognizant of the sodium levels in cured salmon, especially if it’s then smoked.
Whatever you do, do yourself a favor and have some smoked salmon, especially cold-smoked salmon if you’ve never tried it. It’s so flavorful and a great compliment to many dishes, especially a toasted bagel with some cream cheese!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can You Get Parasites from Cured Salmon?
In theory, you can get parasites from cured salmon. Although curing kills bacteria growth, it doesn’t prevent parasites.
If you’re fearful of parasites, you can freeze the salmon before or after curing it, or buy already frozen salmon and then cure it.
Does Curing Salmon Kill Parasites?
No, it doesn’t.
Bear in mind that many salmon live in very salty waters anyway, so it’s not surprising that the parasites they carry might be resistant to salt.
The best way to ensure that the parasites have been killed is to freeze the salmon. The fish should be frozen at -4 degrees F for a minimum of a week to ensure that they are dead, and the fish is safe again.
Is Cured Salmon Raw?
Yes, cured salmon is raw. However, it is safe to eat! Remember that salmon sushi is extremely popular, and it’s almost always raw fish.
When we think of cured salmon, we generally also think of smoked salmon. Smoked salmon can be cooked when it is hot-smoked, or uncooked when it is cold-smoked.