Which fish varieties can (or can't) be pressured canned?

pqtexDecember 31, 2012

My husband Fishes. And Catches. My freezer already has a lot of catfish in it--and he just brought home a 14 lb catfish and a 12 lb catfish. I know tuna, salmon and seafood can be canned, but don't know about catfish. I have never canned fish or meat before.

I searched the NCHFP site and found their guidelines for canning pints and quarts for "fatty fish" and a few specifically named varieties, but catfish is not mentioned (or excluded).

Is catfish a fish that can be safely pressure canned? And if it is, has anyone here done it? Will you tell me what it's like and if it is worthwhile taste-wise to do so?



Here is a link that might be useful: nchfp--canning fish

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I didn't find answers when I searched gardenweb harvest forum before posting my question, but using a different search engine I came up with an older thread with the answers.

I also found Kentucky's extension service instructions, which name catfish specifically. They indicate I may not be happy with the outcome, but it is safe. I'm going to try a small batch to see for myself what taste and texture are like.

Any comments or suggestions or tips will be greatly appreciated.


Here is a link that might be useful: other varieties of fish---an older thread on harvest forum

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 2:50PM
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I don't know the answer to your question, Jill, but wanted to let you know I'm interested in hearing a response to your post, too.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 10:47PM
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kriswrite(zone 8)

On page 2 of this Wisconsin Safe Food Preservation PDF (link below) you will see that canning catfish is safe.

Here is a link that might be useful: Safe Food Preservation

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 7:54PM
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Okay, I finally did it. My husband brought home some more catfish yesterday. Per the instructions, the fish were gutted and bled within 2 hours of being caught (actually was done immediately). They were stored on ice until he got them home. He filleted them and handed them over to me. I washed them again and drained them. I pressure canned them per NCHFP instructions for pint jars.

The fish are canned raw pack into hot jars. I filled the jars with fish cut into approximately 3-1/2" strips. I left 1" of head space. No liquid was added. I added approximately 1/8 tsp of salt per jar, much less than the listed amount, which is optional anyway. The processing time was 100 minutes.

I processed only 4 pints because I didn't know if I would like the catfish pressure canned. After processing was complete and jars removed, I had one jar with a seal failure, which I know was related to the lid itself. It was the only one left from an old batch I uncovered in the pantry and it just didn't take. I refrigerated that jar as soon as I discovered it this morning, approximately 9 hours after being removed from the canner.

I cooked it up in a recipe for lunch today. I used a recipe for fish patties that was labeled "if you like crab cakes, you'll love this recipe." It was only for "inspiration" and what I did was mix the entire jar of fish (drained of the liquid) with about a cup (maybe a little more) of cracker crumbs, a squirt of mustard, mayo, some lime juice, about 1/3cup each of minced bell pepper and onion, 1 clove of garlic, 1 egg, cajun seasoning, and some freshly picked and chopped cilantro. I formed patties and cooked over medium heat in about 1-2 TBS of oil in a large skillet. When they were golden brown on each side and thoroughly cooked, I removed from the skillet.

They are actually quite good. I would repeat this recipe.

Now, for the negatives: I was forewarned by several official extension agency publications that the texture of the fish might not be satisfactory after canning this type of fish. The catfish did not come out flaky. In the jar, it looks like it remains in the cut slabs, but it is extremely mushy, and becomes almost paste-like as soon as you start stirring it up. This texture did not affect the recipe I used at all, but I can't see it working for most other recipes. I thought it might be usable for casseroles (like a tuna-like casserole), but I don't think I would like it. I will try it for a tuna-like salad sandwich spread, but I don't know how that will turn out yet.

I'm not sure what other recipes this might work for. I thought if all the recipes were failures at the taste-test, I would use it for cat food. However, my vet has recommended that I not feed fish-flavored cat food to my cat due to a bladder ailment. He says fish cat food is processed with the fish bones, which provides too many minerals which form crystals in his bladder (similar to kidney stones in people). I will ask if that is still a problem if the fish is processed without bones, but for now, I'll avoid canning it for cat food.

All in all, I think it will work just fine for fish patties and I would probably do it again. It is very, very, very easy. It was easier than bagging up in individual bags for the freezer. The only thing time-consuming about it was monitoring the canner processing time.

The only other thing that occurred is that the jars are not full. I did not have any siphoning. I probably did not put enough fish in the jars. I just dropped pieces of fish in until it came up to the 1" head space. I didn't try to push them down or fit any more in. When processing was over, the self-made liquid covers the fish, but the jars are a little less than 2/3 full.

Jill in Texas

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 3:26PM
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I've never canned fish, HOWEVER, I've been 'meaning to' when I get a roundtooit.

We catch a lot of catfish on trotline and limbline here, and, the first thing comes to mind when I think of canned catfish is 'what a waste'. IMO, better off to clean out the freezer, invite the neighbors and have a fish fry, then DH can just keep on doing his thing and bring home the meat to fill the freezer, again. (Beginning to sound like a cycle maybe?) :-)

Fresh fried flathead or blue cat is gourmet eating, period. And the outcome of canned mushy fish doesn't surprise me.

We have buffalo suckers here (KY River). Large, powerful, plentiful, simple to catch, and delicious to eat, but, very boney. However canning these suckers is supposedly a superb way to prepare them. 'Not only do the bones dissolve, but the meat is firm and the flavor is great.'

Like I said, when I gat a roundtooit I intend to can me some sucker.

Here is a link that might be useful: Poor Man's Salmon

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 9:00AM
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I wasn't looking for a way to replace freezing catfish, but exploring and experimenting with additional ways of keeping it that were not dependent on the freezer. On this last trip, my husband also brought home a wild hog. Now that will be an experience. I sure wish I'd paid more attention to how my father used to do things. I never imagined that some day I'd be stocking the pantry the way my great-grandparents did, instead of just buying it at the grocery store!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 10:03AM
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I've canned quite a bit of pork, my favorite being 'Carnitas' - Mexican pulled pork. I hope it's a good quality wild pig you've got, I understand some of those old boars can be nearly inedible.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 11:07AM
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So far it looks really good. It was a smaller female, maybe 100-150 lbs, just guessing. I was really glad to find out he hadn't gotten a huge old boar! I cooked some up last night...fried like venison backstrap. It was delicious. Not as red as beef, not as light a meat as commercial pork. The meat is in the refrigerator now, just waiting for me to cut it up and package for the freezer. I have never done this before, so I may end up with a whole lot of stew meat pieces instead of steaks and roasts! :-) I know I am going to save enough for a trial batch in the canner.

Jill in Texas

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 11:19AM
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On more than one occasion the wife and I have both gotten deer the same day, we butchered our own meat and both worked 8 hr day jobs and were forced to intitially quarter the deer(s) up and put them on ice in coolers until we could get the meat boned out, which has taken as long as up to nine days to complete, which being drained and re-iced several times really washes/cleans the excess 'gameyness' away. I wouldn't do it any other way now.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 11:54AM
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For the hunted meat, make sure you bleed it and gut it instantly including the lungs, bacteria reside inside the blood stream and inside the digestive system and the lungs are useless to eat. pack the meat as clean as possible to take home, at home clean the meat and if you are canning, cut the meat directly into three quarters to an inch cubes and pack them as tightly as possible into canning jars leaving 1 inch headspace. add 1/2 tsp salt to each pint jar, clean rims and install new lids and install rings on the jars finger tight (so the temperature changes won't remove them)

Process the jars in a steam pressure canner at 15 pounds (to destroy all possible pathogens in the meat as well as botulism) for a minimum of 90 minutes. Once the jars pop, you can remove the bands and wash them and bake them dry in an oven for later use. The next day, wash the jars, lids, and threads under warm running water using something like dawn and a good washcloth to remove all traces of the meat juice that leaked during processing.

Let the jars air dry and then reinstall the bands finger tight (I personally do this for one simple reason. the jar edge may come into contact with something that may take the top right off. putting the bands back on removes this possibility) so the bands can be removed as needed..

Any jars that haven't popped within 2 hours of removing from the canner should be considered something to put in the fridge when it gets cool enough.

I started to use spaghetti sauce jars and olive jars (surplus unused 16 ounce jars bought from a local surplus store that stores have olives in on the shelves) and I can process 15 olive jars at once in my canner. The spaghetti sauce jars are good for making homemade spaghetti sauce and not have the original flavors ruin your sauce because they are the same (no sense trying to can applesauce in a spaghetti sauce jar). Try putting salsa into used salsa jars (remove all labels and glue first). You can even buy new 58mm lids to put on your old jars to change what you store in them (but alas they sell them 1600 lids per box)

That's enough of me ranting about various things. I hope you found some of this information useful

    Bookmark   February 2, 2015 at 12:04PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Since this old post was brought back up just a couple of safety issues that need to be pointed out.

Processing time and weight is determined by your altitude and is not the same for all

Using non-canning jars isn't recommended for several reasons. The current guidelines address this issue in more detail.

Hot pack is preferred over raw pack. See guidelines for details.

And storing jars with the bands in place is also not recommended for several reasons. For more details see the current guidelines.


Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP - Canning Meats and Seafoods

    Bookmark   February 2, 2015 at 1:31PM
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