A very traditional—often thought of as old-fashioned—way of preserving fish and wild game is canning using the pressure of steam.
Unless you have a friend to lend you a pressure canner, the start-up cost can be between $100 and $200 to purchase the necessary equipment and accessories.
In olden times, cans were used even at home, but in recent history jars made for canning have simplified the process.
Being careful and following the instructions are key, as the process uses boiling water and steam pressure to produce the final product.
After a thorough wash and rinse, you basically just boil the jars, sealers and screw-on lids to sanitize them. This part only takes a few minutes and then the jars etc., are removed with sterile (boiled) tongs and stood upright to dry.
Some of the water is then poured off because the product-filled jars will raise the water level until it is too deep. When the jars have cooled, add the fish or meat chunks up to about 1/2inch from the top.
Exercise caution here. The lip of the jars must be kept clear of fish or meat bits as that will prevent proper sealing.
Follow the pressure canner instructions to get it up to pressure, then just hold it above 10 pounds for 100 minutes. Follow the canner instructions afterwards while reducing the pressure to the point the canner can be opened and the sealed jars removed.
It is important to follow the instructions carefully, or serious injury can result from too much heat or premature opening of the canner.
Lift the jars out with rubber-covered tongs and stand aside to cool and seal.
After a period of time you’ll hear each jar make a “ping” sound as the cooling causes it to seal. Sometimes an occasional jar will not seal and you cannot see that.
Tap each lid with a dinner knife. The sealed ones will make a sharper “ping” sound, while the unsealed ones will make a “pong” sound. The ones that did not seal are fine to eat, but that should happen within a day or two and they need refrigeration.
Use any sized jar, but these ingredients are for quarts/litres.
1/2 cup tomato soup (or ketchup)
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon salt (added to each individual jar before soup/vinegar mix)
Fillet the fish, making them boneless. Cut into 1 inch chunks and pack into quart jar until about 1/2 inch down from rim. (Put in salt first, then fish, then liquid.)
Process for 100 minutes at above 10 lbs pressure.
NOTE: for safety sake, if it drops below 10 lbs, restart the 100 minutes.
Jackfish Stuffed in Pita Pocket Halves
I pint of canned Jackfish
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion.
3 tablespoons mayo or sandwich spread
Seasoned salt to taste
Seasoned pepper to taste
1 pkg of small pita pockets.
Drain the liquid from the fish and break it up, mixing the onion, sandwich spread, salt and pepper.
Open the pita pockets and fill with fish mixture.
You’ll be surprised how many people will think it is salmon.
Try it; you’ll like it.