Do Anchovies Go Bad? How To Store Anchovies?

Do Anchovies go bad

When you think about a small, flavourful, and salty fish, anchovies are the first option! They make the perfect seafood options that can be used to enhance your salad, lunch, dinner menu, etc. If you are wondering for how long you can store them, we got you covered!

The good news is that these fishes if canned, can last for a long time without showing any spoilage as long as the packaging is free from dents and punctures.

This article will discuss the estimated timeline during which they are safe to consume. We will also discuss some tips that can help you improve the overall shelf life of these tiny silver fishes.


How Long Do Anchovies Last?

How Long Do Anchovies Last?

These small silvers fishes have become one of the most easily accessible and delicious seafood that one can get their hands on while fishing or shopping. However, these are available in two fundamental types:


If you went out on a fishing expedition and got lucky and netted these silver fins, you need to store them at the right temperature to ensure that they do not get stale by the time you cook them.

As per the regulations mentioned by FDA, seafood should not be kept at room temperature for more than an hour if the temperature outside is above 90° F. Hence, it is best to refrigerate them at between 35° and 38°F to keep them safe from bacterial invasion.


We all love our canned fish since they are easy to store and can be shelved for longer without worrying about spoilage. Anchovies are canned after they are preserved in salt for an extended time. This process nearly eliminates bacteria present in the fish. Hence, these gutted and canned fish can be stored without worrying about contamination.

As per FDA, canned fish can be stored at room temperature for about 18 months without noticing any signs of contamination. If the can is frozen, these small fish can be used indefinitely if you do not notice any random smell or taste.

Here is a table that can help you understand the time duration

Types` Stored in Shelf Life
Canned Anchovies Freezer Indefinitely
Canned Anchovies Room Temperature 18 months
Opened Can of Anchovies Refrigerator 5 days
Fresh Anchovies Freezer Indefinitely
Fresh Anchovies Room Temperature Less than 2 hours
Fresh Anchovies Refrigerator 5 days


Can We Eat Anchovies After Its Best By Date?

The majority of canned food comes with a best-by date. However, this date is not sealed in iron and doe snot indicate that the food is not consumable post that date.

As per the USDA, the manufacturer predicted that date to imply that the item will taste best if consumed within that time frame. Hence, eating them after their best-by date should be safe if they are stored under the correct guidelines to avoid spoilage and limit their interaction with moisture and microbes.


How to Know if Anchovies Has Gone Bad

How to Know if Anchovies Has Gone Bad

Well, if it is spoilt, it will smell fishy. However, that is not enough, is it? In this section, we’ll delve deeper into identifying the spoiling indicators so we can decide whether to keep or throw them away more effectively.

Packaging Damage

Canned fish comes with a sturdy container that can withstand the test of time. However, if you notice that the can is damaged, dented, bulged, leaking, etc., it is not safe to consume such a food item.

However, an article highlights that sometimes, some non-harmful bacteria may not be eliminated by the salting process and are canned along with the semi-preserved anchovies. These bacteria can result in the bulging of the cans, but since they are not harmful, they can be consumed.

Hence, it is best to avoid the can closely to check for the integrity of the packaging before determining whether to consume them.


As mentioned before, these fishes are silver in color. Even after the entire process of bringing, they retain their original color. Hence, if you notice that the scales on these fishes have turned grey or green, it indicates that the fish is spoilt or old.



I am sure we all know what the growth of mold looks like. Hence, if you notice random green, brown, and black hues on the can or inside it, it means that fungi and bacteria have invaded them, so they should not be consumed.

To prevent mold formation on the can, it’s best to store them in a cool and dry area with limited air exposure. Furthermore, even though these cans are shelved, ensure you wipe the can with a dry paper towel to prevent the collection of dust and mites.



One common complaint regarding the texture of rotten fish is that it becomes too mushy and slimy. Hence, if you open a can and find mushy fish, it might be because it is way past its usability.



I am sure it is not difficult to understand that the fish is spoilt if you notice an unusual and unbearably strong and pungent odor. If the fish was frozen for a long time, it might be challenging to sniff anything unless it has thawed. Hence, always give these silver fishes a sniff before cooking them. If you detect a random smell, discard them without attempting to revive it.


Best way to store Anchovies

Best way to store Anchovies

Here are some tips that can help you extend the shelf life of anchovies and keep them tasting fresh and flavourful for a longer time.

1. While storing anchovies at room temperature, ensure you find a spot free from dust and mites.

2. Avoid keeping the can in an area under direct sunlight, as it can damage the integrity of the can and facilitate spoilage and moisture accumulation.

3. If you wish to store leftover anchovies, it is best to store them in air-tight or vacuum-sealed containers to avoid interacting with air and humidity.

4. If you have fresh anchovies and want to preserve them, immerse them in oil. The oil acts as a barrier and prevents the interaction of fish with the surrounding atmosphere.

5. While freezing anchovies, double-wrap them with a cling to prevent the accumulation of ice crystals.

6. Never thaw frozen fish at room temperature. If you wish to thaw them, place them in the fridge and eventually remove them when ready to use them.

7. While refrigerating them, always cover them to prevent cross-contamination and diluting the aroma of these fishes.

8. Keep the sealed bag or box on the inner shelf of the fridge, rather than the doors, to limit temperature fluctuations.


Health hazards of consuming decayed Anchovies

One of the most common symptoms you may notice after consuming old or spoilt fish is vomiting, nausea, headache, dizziness, etc.

However, if the fish is not handled correctly, there are high chances that you may contract Scombroid poisoning. It is a typical food poising that needs to be addressed as soon as you notice the symptoms to prevent complications.

If the food is not stored under ideal conditions, there are chances that the fish will release histamine. Such fish, when consumed, will result in a flared-up allergic reaction in the body.

Symptoms may include nausea, flushed face, excessive sweating, hives, diarrhea, etc.


FAQs about anchovies going bad and how to store them

In this section, we will answer some commonly asked questions.

Why is there white deposition on my can of anchovies? Does that mean it is spoilt?

Answer: White powder-like deposition inside the can or around the fish may be due to salt accumulation since these fishes are semi-persevered by salting them. Hence, don’t be alarmed when you find it since it is safe and does not indicate spoilage; it is merely there because salt has precipitated.

How to dispose of spoilt anchovies?

Answer: Once the fish has become rancid, you must take it out of your kitchen. To dispose of them, wrap the entire can in a plastic bag and put it in your trash can. Take the trash out of your kitchen since it will attract bugs, bacteria, and other insects.

Can you refrigerate fresh anchovies?

Answer: Yes. There is no harm in refrigerating anchovies. However, while refrigerating them, wrap them in air-tight bags or containers. Since raw fish has a typical smell, it is possible that the smell can get absorbed by other food items in the fridge and make them all smell bad. Imagine eating ice cream that smells like fish. Not so appetizing, is it?



Anchovies can be stored in the freezer at 0 degrees Celcius for as long as you can keep them. However, if the can is opened, it must be stored in a refrigerator that is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to limit the growth and proliferation of harmful microbes. Once the anchovies are exposed to air, try to consume them within 5 days.

Before consuming these silver fishes, thoroughly inspect them in the steps mentioned above to prevent any signs of food poisoning.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any other questions regarding anchovies, feel free to reach us in the comment section below.

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