Canning Fish....

Discussion in 'General Food and Foraging Discussion' started by kyredneck, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. kyredneck

    kyredneck Family Gopher

    ...particularly suckers, and especially buffalo suckers. :)

    I have done more than my share of trotlining/limblining (Ky River is a little more than a mile from me) and have caught more than my share of flatheads, channels, and buffalo suckers, and, I'm ashamed to say I've never canned any.

    The sucker is supposed to can good and the bones are supposedly made insiginificant during the process. I would love to know recipes, methods, tips, tricks, suggestions, ANYTHING anyone wants to share with me about canning fish. These rains coming in from the hurricane have given me 'the itch' to put my boat in and a trotline out and target some buffalo suckers, which are actually very plentiful and relatively easy to catch (the real challenge is netting them and getting them in the boat).

    Here's some pics from a couple-three years ago; my Romanian SIL with a weekend's worth of fish and a sink full of 'buffalo ribs':

    Attached Files:

  2. kyredneck

    kyredneck Family Gopher

    I'm very interested to know if anyone has ever canned fish in oil. My family loves canned tuna in olive oil and I think it would be neat to replicate that.

  3. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    The only fish we ever canned was salmon ... so I'm no help.

    Sorry ...
  4. kyredneck

    kyredneck Family Gopher

  5. kyredneck

    kyredneck Family Gopher

    Some call canned sucker 'poor man's salmon', others say it reminds them of tuna; I've got a feeling it depends a lot on the recipe one uses.

    'Poor man's salmon: there's nothing wrong with suckers - if you know how to can them.' This recipe calls for one tsp salt (optional) per pint, and no liquid, and he compares it to salmon (I LOVE canned salmon). Other recipes include ketchup, vinegar, and oil and is compared to tuna.

    Heheh, you've canned salmon then you're waaaay ahead of me. :)
  6. kyredneck

    kyredneck Family Gopher

  7. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    Interesting link ... Thanks.
  8. kappydell

    kappydell Well-Known Member

    My state's DNR put out a cookbook some years ago regarding the cooking of 'rough fish' and they had some kick-a$$ recipes:

    General Info on Rough Fish:
    Certain oily fish species, particularly carp and freshwater drum can develop a musty taste during July and August, usually due to algae in their home waters. Sniff the gills – if they have a musty odor, so will the fish. This is primarily in the reddish brown streak along the lateral line of the fillet, which should be sliced off. Also remove the mud vein from carp fillets.

    Carp, as well as suckers, redhorse, quillback, buffalo fish, and the northern pike have many small Y bones in them. The fillet should be scored by cutting into the fillet every 1/4 – 3/8 inch in the front 2/3 of the fish. Cut through the fillet into the Y bones. This will allow cooking oils to penetrate to the bones to soften them so they cannot be detected. Score by cutting across the fillet sideways.

    Get fresh-caught fish into an iced cooler chest. Ideally it should be bled and gutted before it is iced. If you don't have an ice chest, use a large mesh fish bag or clip type stringer, and keep your fish alive as long as possible. Handle the fish well and you will know it is in excellent condition for cooking.

    Suckers and redhorse have many Y-bones. Best prepared by filleting, skinning and scoring prior to pan frying or freezing. Then run through a food grinder twice to break down the Y-bones. Use the ground fish in patties, hash or sausage. Both are also excellent pickled and canned.

    Quillback or white carp are primarily used for smoking. They have Y-bones. Fillets should be twice ground to make patties, hash and sausage.

    Bowfin or dogfish are best smoked. Freeze them for a month before smoking to harden the flesh.

    Burbot or lawyer should be skinned as soon as possible after catching. Then fillet it. It is excellent pan fried, also boiled as "poor man's lobster". Save the livers after removing the dark green gall bladder. If you like liver, they are reputed to taste better than finest calves liver.


    2 qt. boiling water
    2 TB salt
    fish fillets
    Drop fillets in salted boiling water. Return to full boil; allow burbot to remain in water 1 1/2 minutes and freshwater drum 3-4 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon.. Dip pieces into melted butter, or serve butter on the side.


    3 TB catsup
    4 TB vinegar
    2 TB cooking oil
    1 TB water
    2 tsp salt
    Clean fish, remove rib cage bones and cut in chunks to fit in a quart canning jar. Wipe fish dry, pack in jars. Pour mixture of catsup, vinegar, oil, water, and salt over fish. Leave 1 inch head space. Seal with standard canning lid, pressure cook 90 min at 15 lb pressure.

    Fillets of carp, cut up in pieces, and soaked in salt water overnight
    Wash fillets in fresh water, then pack in pint jars. Leave 1 inch head space. To each jar, add:
    1 1/2 tsp canning salt
    1 TB white vinegar
    1 TB tomato sauce
    1 TB cooking oil Pressure cook 90 min at 10 lbs pressure (or 65 min at 15 lb pressure). Good with crackers and beer as an appetizer.

    yellow salad style mustard
    canning salt
    lemon juice
    vegetable oil
    Scale fish, remove heads and intestines from pins size or smaller smelt or perch. Fresh caught alewives can be used also. Wash and pack standing up in pint jars, skin side out. Mix 3 heaping TB mustard to each cup of water, and use to fill jars 3/4 full of liquid. Add 1 1/2 tsp canning salt and 1/2 tsp lemon juice to each pint jar. Fill remainder of jar with vegetable oil, leaving 1 inch headspace. Process 70 min at 15 pounds pressure.

    Fresh or frozen fillets
    salt cooking oil
    Pack fillets in pint jars solidly. Leave 1 inch headspace. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 TB cooking oil per jar – nothing else. Screw lids on, and pressure can 65 min at 15 pounds pressure.

    Mix the following for each pint jar of fish:
    1 tsp brown sugar
    1 tsp canning salt
    1 tsp white vinegar
    1 tsp butter
    1 tsp catsup
    Soak sucker or redhorse fillets 1 hour in salt brine strong enough to float an egg. Remove from brine, pack in pint glass jars to within 1 inch of the top. Add mixture leaving the 1 inch headspace. Pressure can at 50 min for 15 lbs. pressure. Let stand 2 weeks before eating.


    2 lb ground fish
    1 c salted soda cracker crumbs (saltines)
    1 tsp pepper
    2 eggs
    1/2 tsp thyme (optional)
    1 small diced onion
    Clean, skin and fillet fish. Those with Y-bones, run through medium coarse grinder plate twice. Add remaining ingredients, make into patties and fry crispy, or pack in loaf pan, cover with tomato sauce and bake at 350 until done.

    2 lb filleted bullheads
    1 large raw potato
    1 small onion
    1 large or 1 small eggs
    2 TB flour
    salt, pepper, seasoning salt to taste
    Grind fillets coarsely, gring potato and onion through same plate. Mix with remaining ingredients and drop by TB into 1/2 inch hot fat. Bacon fat is very good. Fry until golden on both sides.

    5/8 c pickling salt for each quart of fish
    white vinegar
    Pickling Mixture:
    1 pt. white vinegar
    1 pt. white port wine
    3/4 c sugar
    1/8 oz pickling spice
    sliced onions
    Cut fish in chunks. Dissolve salt in enough vinegar to cover the fish. Let stand 4-6 days in the solution. Keep at about 40 degrees F. Take out of salt solution and rinse well with cold water.
    Place alternate layers of fish and onions in sterilized jars. Place hot mixture of vinegar, wine, sugar and spice over the fish. Refrigerate and let stand one week before using. This solution covers 4 qts of fish.

    6 c vinegar
    4 c sugar
    1 TB salt
    2 c water
    2 med onions, sliced
    2 TB pickling spice
    Bring ingredients to a boil at least 5 minutes. Lower heat, when at a simmer, add pieces of filleted, scored carp. Do not boil. The fish will turn white. Watch closely, as time of simmering depends on size of fish pieces. Put in glass or stoneware container, and cover with liquid. Let stand several days.

    2 1/2 – 3 lb fish fillets, fresh or frozen
    1 1/2 c sliced onions
    1 1/2 c sliced carrots
    2 TB dry mixed pickling spices
    1 1/2 c water
    3/4 c vinegar
    2 TB salt
    1 TB sugar
    Cut fish in 1 inch pieces. Place in 2 qt covered casserole 1/3 of the fish, then 1/3 of the onions, carrots and pickling spices. Repeat layers twice more. Combine water, vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Pour over ingredients in casserole. Cover. Heat in slow oven (325 F) for 1 hour or until mixture reaches the simmering stage. Remove from oven and cool. Refrigerate at least 24 hours, then serve as an entrée with potato salad and a vegetable, or as an appetizer with crackers, toast squares, or party rye. Makes 6 entree servings or 10-12 appetizer servings.

    I hope this give you some fine eating! It is a pity to waste rough fish because you dont know how to cook them. By the way, the recipe book in it's entirety is on the internet. enter - - and when it comes up, click on 'angler education materials' then the link 'a fine kettle of fish for chefs of all ages' for a PDF of the entire book. It is an excellent one, includes info on cooking turtles, crayfish, and all manner of rough fishes.
  9. kyredneck

    kyredneck Family Gopher

    Outstanding post kappy, thanks so much for passing this info along. Wisconsin DNR cookbook is outstanding with many recipes I'll undoubtedly will eventually try, I've downloaded it to my 'canning' and 'fishing' files.

    Excerpts from the cookbook “A Fine Kettle Of Fish”:

    Smallmouth and black buffalo suckers are actually readily taken on rod & reel, trotline or limbline, it's the bigmouth buffalo which almost totally feeds from zooplankton, albeit smallmouths and blacks will suspend and feed on zooplankton also, as will crappie.

    100% correct, although I would add 'scrumptious' and 'delectable' in there somewhere, fresh buffalo sucker is gourmet eating. See first photo; the cooked fillet is split down the middle and the 'Y' bones plucked out and the fish is then eaten. It is soooo simple and easy to do once you get the 'eating technique' down of splitting the fillet to reveal the 'Y' bones. IMO, folks work a lot harder getting the meat from crab legs than plucking bones from a large buff fillet.

    At one time (may still be) largemouth buffalo sucker was the #1 commercially caught and sold freshwater fish in North America.

    Ugh, beautiful? See second photo, they're slick and slimy and thick and powerful and hard to hold in your hands, near impossible to hold when they're live and wiggly. I have about perfected a dough bait that features fermented cottonseed meal over the years that has proven it's worth with buffs on trotline.

    I've never known buffs to obtain an off flavor, but then again the river is usually slow moving and stratified during those months, and I don't fish then (lack of O2 causes fish to die on the line if they're unable to reach the thermocline, the upcoming rains from Isaac will change all that and the river will freshen up and 'come alive' (heehee, that's the plan anyhoo)). Note the third pic w/ a tilapia and buff fillet compared. The 'red' in a buff fillet is no different than the red in a tilapia fillet, it doesn't have to be removed (although I will remove some of the thickest part of it), it has no off flavor, I know. Carp does, buff doesn't.

    Well, I got the boat motor checked out and running, went to the courthouse and got the boat licensed, went to Lexington and bought some much needed new oars, got some dough bait 'concentrate' out of the freezer to thaw, now I have to wait see what the rains do (I'm not putting the boat on the water or a trotline out if there's a chance flooding will occur, I'll wait); that'll give me time to get the doughball boilies made and get my trotline drops w/hooks made up. Hopefully I'll provide some up to date pics of the whole adventure, including my canning venture also. :)

    Attached Files:

  10. Riverdale

    Riverdale Well-Known Member

    I marinate the suckers (and salmon) I can in honey and sea salt (a container large enough to have the fish covered). I know when I have enough salt in the water when a raw egg will float high enough to pass my hand between the egg and the bottom of the container. I usually add a couple cups of honey.

    Leave it overnight. The next day, half smoke the fish (I prefer maple or alder, tho apple is good too). When the fish is about half done, I can acoording to the Ball Blue Book.
  11. kyredneck

    kyredneck Family Gopher

    Thanks RD, I've never had smoked fish (I don't think), it's not a big thing in these parts.

    Anyhoo, so far we haven't had enough rain to have runoff to raise and freshen up and oxygenate the river. This is disappointing, I may put my dough bait concentrate back in the freezer for another day when the river is in shape to fish with a trotline and catch buffalo.

    I've been picking up some good deals on canning jars here and there, got three dozen wide mouth for $3 total at an estate sale yesterday.
  12. Riverdale

    Riverdale Well-Known Member

    Smoked fish is a big part of my likes. :D
  13. kappydell

    kappydell Well-Known Member

    Best of both worlds....from the Univ of Alaska, Fairbanks extension book: Add Variety to Home Canned Fish (on intenet)

    Mock Smoked Fish (1/2 pint size) – excellent.
    Put ingredients in half pint jars, then fill with fish and can as usual.
    1/4 tsp salt
    2 TB brown sugar
    1/8 tsp minced dry garlic
    1/8 tsp liquid smoke