Yellowtail tuna

It is important to preserve fish soon after they are caught. Preserving the flavor and freshness can be done if care is taken. Do not allow the fish to bruise itself by flopping around, put live fish in cold water immediately. Gutting them and washing the fillets or steak cuts, then storing in a plastic bag on ice will assure their fresh natural flavor for several hours until you can adequately preserve them. Canning is used commercially with any type of fish. Choose pickling for herring, northern pike, and suckers. Smoking and fish jerky is done for flavor and is a favorite method of preservation by many fishermen. Freezing is common and effective if the product is handled in such a way that it's quality is kept near peak freshness.

1. Smoking fish.

Smoking as a temporary method is one of the most flavorful ways to preserve fish. The smoking process steps are necessary not only for safe preservation, but also to produce good flavor and aroma. Chubs, buffalo catfish, salmon, trout, and several others may be successfully smoked. A safe, high quality product can be produced using the following brining and smoking procedures. Use fresh, dressed and washed fish only. Place fish in brine made of four cups salt to one gallon water that is less than 40 degrees F for fifteen minutes. Place in smoker or smokehouse at uniform temperature of at least 180 degrees F until desired doneness.

2. Freezing fish.

Clean and prepare fish the way you will prepare it for meals. Wrap the fish in aluminum foil, or resealable freezer bags. Separate layers of fish with packaging material for easier thawing; store at 0° F or lower. Thaw in the refrigerator several hours before using. Label with type of fish, cut and date frozen.

3. Canning Fish.

This method should be safely done by those who are experienced in canning, water baths and time tables. Fish is a low acid food and can be processed at temperatures reached in a steam pressure canner. Failure to heat process fish at 240° F or higher may allow heat-resistant bacteria spores. Use standard heat-tempered canning jars, wide-mouth jars are easiest to fill. Clean and prepare fish after catching, keep on ice until ready to can. Cut cleaned fish into three inch pieces. Fill pint jars, leaving one inch head space. Do not add liquids, adjust lids and follow canning process. Boil for ten minutes before tasting or serving.

4. Pickling fish.

Any type of fish may be pickled at home. Refrigerate the fish until they are used in the pickling process.

Combine the following ingredients in a large saucepan. This is for five pounds of fish.

  • 1 tbs. ground allspice
  • 1 tbs. mustard seed
  • 1 tbs. whole cloves
  • 1 tbs whole black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbs. diced onions
  • 1 quart distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon slices
  • 3 cups water

  1. Bring to a boil. Add fish, and simmer for 10 minutes until fish is soft.
  2. Remove fish from liquid, place on a single layer on a flat pan. Refrigerate and cool quickly to prevent spoilage.
  3. Pack cold fish in clean glass jars. Add whole spices, freshly sliced onions, and a slice of lemon.
  4. Strain the vinegar solution, bring to a boil, and pour into jars until fish is covered.
  5. Seal the jar immediately with sealing lid. Pickled fish must be stored in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F.


Preserving Fish