Canning Other Fish???

tclynxAugust 16, 2009

I've seen info about canning salt water fish and canning salmon.

What about inland freshwater fish or warm water fish? We grow catfish and tilapia in an Aquaponics system. We usually freeze excess fish we have to harvest but I've wondered if it would be safe to can up some smoked catfish or tilapia. They are both rather oily fish too.

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Would be very mushy, and with the oil in the fish, it can still be unsafe to can, although tuna comes to mind, but thats salt water fish.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 1:18PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Never done it - we always freeze - but I don't know of any reason why the tilapia couldn't be canned.

NCHFP says "Blue, Mackerel, Salmon, Steelhead, Trout, and other Fatty Fish Except Tuna" may be canned and you already know that freezing is the recommended method for all other fish including fresh water ones like bass and crappie.

Personally I have never found catfish to be that fatty/oily and we love it frozen but you'd know better about that.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 1:20PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

It's hard to imagine they'd be any oilier than salmon or tuna, both of which can be canned.

The link provides safe processing times for fish and smoked fish. I don't see anything that would prohibit canning catfish or tilapia. However, I've only canned salmon (fresh and smoked) and tuna. I don't know what sort of quality you'd get with the fish you have in mind. You might want to do a trial jar or two.

Notice the processing times for smoked fish are longer than for fresh fish.


Here is a link that might be useful: Canning Seafoods

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 1:25PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Just a reminder per Dave's comment for anyone who may reference this thread in future. Tuna can be processed; it's just listed separately because there are special preparation considerations.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 1:27PM
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Thanks for the reply.

I might be worried that tilapia would turn to mush when canning. Catfish however can be very dense (even a little like tuna in texture sometimes) so I would not be too worried about catfish turning to mush.

We like making smoked catfish dip but are not often of a mind to spend the day smoking catfish just to make a snack. Would be nice to have some small jars of smoked catfish that we could pop open to whip up some dip.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 2:28PM
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wiringman(ZONE 4)

i was raised on the north Washington coast.

we canned both tuna and razor clams all the time.

we would buy the tuna right off the boat when it came in. we butchered the tuna our selves. we did cut off the little bit of red meat around the fins and gills. then we rinsed the meat off and filled our jars. mostly 1/2 pints and some pints. we added a little salt. about a 1/4 teaspoon per 1/4 pint and pressure canned it at 15 pounds for 1/2 an hour.

the oil in the fish would cover the fish when it was done.

when we would open a jar we would mix the oil back into the fish.

you have never tasted tuna so good. after all these years i still had hardly eat commercial tuna.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 3:00PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

It is really good WM, I bought mine last week and it's in the freezer waiting for a rainy day. I buy mine in loins the last several years even though expensive - the man we buy from sells to a few of us to can but mainly to restaurants, sushi bars. All but jar ready, just needs a quick rinse and some cutting into pieces. OT - is along the lines of aging hippy :) about my age - he fishes tuna under sail, built and outfitted his own boat. Very interesting man.

Current guidelines though are 100 minutes at 10 lbs pressure weighted canner, up from the 90 min I had used for years, and longer than you remember. Just a touch of salt, nothing else needed.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 5:53PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

A couple of weeks ago we did 62 half-pints of tuna, 5 of the smaller fish. We're pretty finicky getting all the dark off, so there was a fair amount of waste.

We also had processed fish for years at the 90-minute time. I was surprised to see the change to 100 minutes. (I checked NCHFP before doing this year's batch as I hadn't canned fish in a while.) I was even more surprised to see smoked fish is 110.

Last night we lightly smoked and grilled a loin on the Traeger with a soy sauce, lime, ginger and sesame oil marinade.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 6:02PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Carol, I keep telling myself the price is justified because there is no waste with the restuarant quality loins I've been buying. Truth is, its just much easier and for a bit more work I could probably save some money on fish from another vendor.

Do you like your Traeger? My brother uses his often but my grill is gas - and just about due to be replaced, think it's on its last year...we're deciding. We did a turkey (in a pan) and a roast in his Traeger last Christmas ...I'm the family gravy maker and I couldn't overcome the smokey flavor in the gravy drippings with any seasonings I tried.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 9:20PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Believe me, I would have been happy to get just loins. But DH was focused on the whole fish. What a nasty nasty job, far worse than salmon to my mind. The tuna oil is so viscous and the smell lingers like I can't believe.

We do like our Traeger, though we also have a gas grill we picked up super-cheap. The Traeger is quite different but in some ways more versatile. I keep meaning to try baking bread on it. Haven't gone that direction yet.

Smoking, of course, is an option. You might prefer not smoking some things. Last Thanksgiving we brined a 23-pound turkey. I used apple cider with the salt, brown sugar, some tangerine peel, peppercorns, fresh thyme. DH lightly smoked it initially and then finished it off without smoke. It's easy to overdo.

I don't even attempt making gravy from those turkeys. I buy extra necks, wings, drums, etc., make a big batch of rich broth from those, strip the meat and then that's my gravy fixings and dressing moistener. Usually on a big turkey there's plenty of fat in the cavity I can render. If not, I always have rendered fat (turkey or chicken) in the freezer and I supplement with butter. It's more trouble but the flavor of the turkey is excellent and it does free up the oven for other things.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 11:14PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Aarghh...whole tuna, more than a bit more work. I did that once, I will not do it again, not at my house....whole tuna belong on a dock and no closer to home. Nasty doesn't begin to describe it - cleaning salmon is a treat in comparison, that I can do.

(DH doesn't get to focus, he doesn't do the canning.)

Thanks for the tips on the Traeger, gives me some more to think about :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 1:07AM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

I'm picking up my tuna on Friday!!
I've got a Eugene source that owns their own boats and brings the fish in daily (45-50 minute drive) for their retail store.
What are you guys paying this year?
I'm buying @ $2.50/lb. for 50# or more (whole fish, they fillet for FREE!!!). I'll pick up the fillets, coat with water, freeze overnight on cookie sheets, then vacuum seal in the morning.
I'm splitting the 50# with a friend.

I just freeze the loin chunks in sizes that work for us.
That way I can thaw and grill or cook for flaked tuna dishes. I just don't want to spend the time & energy to can.

Try a 2" loin slice wrapped with bacon and grilled! YUM!
Like Filet Mignon, but a little healthier!


    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 12:49PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

We did all the prep and canning outside. No way those fish were coming into the house. We have long plastic tables which we covered with more plastic for the gutting and filleting then we pack the jars and can on a propane burner in the shop (door ajar).

BIL just got 230 pounds of tuna. All I can say is he's welcome to it.

For myself, I like canned tuna a whole lot better than the fresh, so I don't freeze any. I don't hate the fresh but it's not something I'd ever go out of my way for. I'm much more fond of salmon (or almost any other fish you can name).


    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 1:13PM
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wiringman(ZONE 4)

well i no linger live by the sea. as i said i was young and me and dad were out side butchering the fish for the ladies who did the real work. what i do remember is how good eating it was.

the razor clams made the best clam chowder.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 1:32PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Carol, my choice is REALLY more about not having the danged PC running for 100 minutes.......each load........
I like the flexibility of eating fresh (not much of it, really) or cooking for other dishes.
Sometimes I just toss the vacuum sealed bag in a pot of boiling water to cook. Cool, then make tuna salad or whatever from there! In a pinch, I've been known to "nuke it"!

It's nice that there are plenty of choices so each can choose what works for them!


    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 4:02PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You all on the coast are SO lucky to have access to fresh tuna!!! Needless to say we don't see many tuna down here in the hills. A big carp or gar is the closest we can come to it. ;) The Chicken of the Sea brand cans is all we ever see.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 4:13PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I do agree, Deanna. By the third 100-minute canner load I was so sick-and-tired of sitting out in the shop monitoring that thing.

But I've got so much other stuff in the freezer, I just don't know where I'd put tuna.

Dave, I remember staying with relatives in Texas. Wonderful farmers markets with incredible tomatoes and melons. But on that occasion the only I fish I saw was farmed catfish.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 5:57PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

We just paid $1.50 a lb. for whole fresh tuna. Mine didn't stink. Just a fresh tuna smell after it was canned. Hardly any smell at all. You are supposed to add water to canned tuna. Check the Ball blue book and NCHFP. You will see it has water added to the jars. I used the salt called for, but next time will cut it in half. Too much salt for me. I rinse it off.
The fresh grilled tuna was wonderful, too ! I used a honey mustard marinade with a little soy sauce added, too.
I think the tilapia would be a mess canned.
When you smoke fish to can, you only smoke for 1/2 hour to get the flavor, then can. The fish is not fully cooked before processing. Otherwise it is too strong and too dry.
Be sure to add extra water to the canner, too. You will need 3-4 inches, for sure.
I had both of my canners, with the jars stacked, so was no big deal to process them.
It is good to know my tuna was not caught in Thailand, Vietnam, or some other place. Check your cans and see where it comes from.
OOOhhh, I would can 230 lb. of tuna !! My neighbor and I would get together and do it all.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 6:03PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Linda, when did the water get added to the directions...The only time I've ever seen water or oil added is when the fish has been precooked - I only raw pack....I see the latest BBB has it added for both methods.
The reasoning behind this would be....?

If you say you handled whole fish without a problem I believe you, but that wasn't my experience. We butchered the fish in my back yard and it's not an exercise I want to ever repeat.

I'm not going to tell you what I paid for sushi quality loins - but if I end up with more than 1/4 C waste/scraps from 65 lbs I'll be very surprised.

Funny things is, I really don't like fresh tuna...I don't much care for it grilled, smoked, sushied, or any other way than raw-packed canned.
WM, razor clams still make the best chowder, and fritters, and just plain'd probably be surprised to know how strictly they are regulated now. A few three day opening per year, 15 clams per limit and you keep the first 15 dug (I remember digging when the limit was 36) leaving a mangled clam in the hole if you've broken one badly. The fisheries agents sit on the beach in their trucks with field glasses that would allow them to count stitches in the seam on your cap - so no cheating :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 9:00PM
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Hello All,

I was glad to see this fish canning thread! This year we havenÂt canned tuna or salmon but we have done a fair bit of Smelt, Mackerel and gorgeous large Sardines.

These smaller fish are easy to handle and process for canning: one fillet is taken off one side, the innards scraped out, the head and tail cut from the other side (that still has the backbone) and the gut scraped also. These are washed in salt brine. Then, these pieces are appropriately cut up to fit in the half-pint wide mouth jars with a tad of salt and one inch headspaceÂ.100 minutes @ 10 lbs. pressure and any bones disappear. We also did some with a Chipotle Pepper in the bottom. The smoked jalapeno was a good addition for a little zing, but I think a light smoking prior to canning would be best for our tastes.

When doing a lot fish, canning outdoors or in the shop is best, and a couple or three canners running in sequence seem to be most efficient. But I donÂt know anyone who adds water to the jars and fishÂ.all seem to just cold pack the fish by themselves.


In regards to the smoked/canned Catfish; I think theyÂd be just great and they would seem to have a good texture for canning. But remember that the smoked taste is intensified from the canning and so most just do a pretty light smoke.

Thanks for all the great conversations.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 12:32AM
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