TUTORIAL: Pressure Canning Fish for Beginners (step-by-step)

TUTORIAL: Pressure Canning Fish for Beginners (step-by-step)

Hey hey So today is going to be my fish canning day. And I just wanted to show you my setup. So this is my prep station. Right here, I’ve got a cutting board and this is all the fish that I’m going to can. So I’ve got two nice sized filets of fresh salmon and I’ve got a bag of walleye that’s been in the freezer for a little while and I wanted to get it out of the freezer, so I’m going to put it into cans. I’ve got my pressure canner here. Uh, it’s a big guy. Whenever you’re doing meat, low acid low sugar foods, you have to pressure can it. You can’t do the water bath method. That’s not safe to eat. I’ve got my container of rings and other general canning tools all of my jars I always have a pile of towels and rags And these towels and rags, I don’t care about. They can get totally trashed. And I’ll just throw them in the wash. You’ve got your lids and your rings and your jars that are prepping. So I’m doing ten pint-sized jars that’s what I’m guessing based on the amount of fish I have. Whenever I guesstimate, I always guess over. Because, I mean, when you’re at the point where you’re starting to stuff hot jars, you always want to have too many, not too few. So right now I’ve got them on we’re just starting to roll on high heat. With some water on the bottom so right now I’m just sterilizing the jars and heating them up. So that heating, or that uh, sealing element inside the rings it’ll start to heat up. So the thing about lids is that you need to use a new lid every single time you can. You buy new lids just in a container, like this. So every time you resuse your jars and your rings you need to add a brand new lid to it. Finally, most importantly, I’ve got my recipe. So this is a pamphlet, or a recipe, that I got from the University of Fairbanks Alaska Cooperative Extension Office. Called ‘Canning the Fish Catch’. And this is good for pretty much all fish. I will put a link in the description below to their website so that you can find yourself a copy of this. Because it is just amazing. It goes through handling the fish in the field how you should prepare the fish, removing bones and skin for certain kinds of fish, Then it gets into how to pack your jars, recommended processing time, and pressure for your jars sizes. All of this was done by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, so this is a very, very trustworthy source. When you’re canning fish and meat, and other things that have potential for botulism when it’s not correctly canned, you want to find a reputable source. And now I’m going to get started chopping up my fish. I’m about part-way through prepping all the fish My jars have just started boiling, so that’s good. Jars are being sanitized, and I’m dicing up the walleye still and as I’m running the knife through these filets I can feel bones. Like, I haven’t deboned these yet. But part of the beauty of pressure canning fish with small bones is that pressure canning completely takes care of all of these bones. So I can feel the bone lines in this filet, and same with the salmon. I have not removed the bones from these salmon filets. But during the pressure canning process, the pressure actually totally dissolves those bones. It makes the fish healthier for you because you’re eating all of that calcium inside the bones that you’d normally be picking out and throwing away. If it’s a fish like salmon or walleye where the bones are just really small and really obnoxious to take out, you don’t have to take those out when you’re pressure canning it. It’s pretty amazing, actually. So yeah, just chop up all of your fish. Don’t worry about the bones. The pressure canner will take care of that. All of the fish hasbeen diced, walleye on the left, salmon on the right, and now I’m moving my hot jars from the sanitation…sanitizing pot over and lining them up. where I will fill them. So this is a really nice tool to have. It’s a pretty standard canning tool. So you don’t have to touch any of the hot jars yourself. These are very, very hot jars. So I’m going to line them all up in a row. All my hot jars are lined up. And I’m going to start packing them which just involves grabbing a handful of fish and putting it in. Now this recipe specifically says that you want one inch of headspace and what “headspace” means is the gap of the top of the food level and yeah, the top of the food level and the top of the jar. And you’re doing a raw pack, which means filling the jar with raw food. This recipe says one inch of headspace. So they make this little tool to measure your headspace. And the highest tooth, here is one inch. So you just put that in the jar and you can see, on most jars the one-inch mark is just under the lip of that ring you’ve got a perfect amount of headspace. And you just keep doing that until all of your jars are filled. The next step that you would want to do is to take a clean dry rag and wipe off the top of each of those jar rims. If your jar rim has any fish residue or chunks of fish then the sealing agent on the inside of the ring – errr, on the inside of the lid might not get a good, tight seal so your jars might not seal. So that step is really important. Just to wipe the tops of all the jars and make sure they’re nice and clean. So the next step now that all of the tops of my jars are clean I’m going to pull out this little tool. When I first started canning, I was like, “I’m never going to use this…” I really hate single purpose tools I despise them I think they take up space unnecessarily I’m more of a proponent for tools that serve many purposes but this is a tool I have not been able to find functionality with anything else, other than this. And all it is is a stick of plastic with a magnet on the end. Once it’s time to fish those hot lids out of your water that just stopped boiling you are going to wish you had one of these. I tried doing it without this tool the first few times and you can get these for like two dollars so two dollars is definitely worth a lifetime of not scorching your fingers in boiling water. And I’m just going to add all of the lids to these jars… And now I’m putting on the rings. We talked about headspace, which is the amount of space between the top of your food and the bottom of the lid. Another canning term you’re going to hear quite often is “finger tight” and that term applies to how tight you put on the ring. When you’re twisting this ring on your jar, you only want to be putting enough pressure on it so that you’re just using your fingertips to tighten it. It’s tight enough to serve its purpose of holding the lid onto the jar, but not so tight so that you’re using all of your strength. Next step. We’re finally ready to put our jars in the pressure canner. Your pressure canner should have some sort of tray like this so that your jars aren’t going to be flat on the metal. And I’m just going to go one by one. and stack them around the edge. Alright, all of my jars are packing in here. It’s really tight, but there is a small amount of space inbetween each of the jars, which is what you want.You don’t want them so tightly packed that they’re all touching. Now that we’ve got everyone in there this recipe says that I need a few inches of water on the bottom. This pressure canner gets insanely heavy when it has when it’s filled with water. So I usually wait until the end then just use a separate, smaller container to pour the cold water in here. Ok. So I was hoping that this moment wouldn’t come, but I have realized it has to. I’m being exposed for still being in my pajamas in the afternoon but that’s fine! Because you know what? I’m pressure canning fish. I’m not going to do my hair and do my makeup. Now you all know what I really look like. So this pressure canner is a metal on metal. Some pressure canners have a nice rubber ring and that’s what creates the seal, but this canner is straight up just aluminum on aluminum. So for this model, what you want to do to help create that seal and to help yourself be able to get that lid off later is to just take a little bit of petroleum jelly and just do a thin layer around the inside where that metal on metal seal is going to happen. You’re just lubing it up a little bit. Even when I do this, I still tend to have issues getting the lid off. It’ll create a well, during the pressure canning process, it creates such an intense vacuum that after the pressure canner is cooled down, I still can’t get the thing off. I can’t get the lid off. If that ever happens to you, and you have issues getting your lid off because it creates too efficient of a vacuum seal, I do have a solution for that. Check in the description of this video and I’ll post a link to another video with my trick to how to get the lid off. We’ve put our petroleum jelly all around the inside and now to put this this lid on. So this pressure canner has a little indentation right here to show you what you need to line up to. Then on the lid, there’s an arrow. Sometimes you need to wiggle it a little. Now it’s falling in place. There we go. So now we’re in place. I’ve got all of these latches on the side so you start by grabbing two opposite from each other and just go really, really loose. Don’t tighten at all. You also want to make sure that the gap over here is similar to the gap over here. Otherwise your lid is going to be off. So right now, I actually put it on pretty darn straight. No adjusting needed. So you’re just going to go around the whole pressure canner just going really, really loose. I mean, not tight at all. At this point, you’re just trying to line everything up. Grabbing these screws… and those twists opposite from each other. So that once you’ve got everyone on, then you can go through and start tightening a few twists at a time. And the reason you’re doing that is because you don’t want your lid to shift during this tightening process. You want to make sure that your pressure is being applied evenly throughout the whole lid. Otherwise you need to start over and readjust your lid. So those are on pretty nice and tight. I’ve got my pressure canner weight here. And according to this recipe, it needs to be at ten pounds of pressure. So I’m going to turn the heat on I’m going to wait until steam starts coming up through the top and then I’m going to put my weighted gauge on at ten pounds. There’s a better shot of the weighted gauge, so you can see ten pounds would be there. This piece is going to go right over the top of this steam hole. But first I’m going to wait about ten to fifteen minutes so that some of the steam can escape. And then I’m going to put this down just like that. But for now, you want to let it heat up a little bit. This has been going on for about ten minutes. You can hear that steam escaping from the steam vent. And I can hear that the water is starting to boil. And also, if I put my hand over this, I can feel hot steam coming out. It’s ready and it’s time to put on our weighted pressure I usually use an oven mit for this part. So you’re wearing your oven mit and you just drop it over. Now over here, you can see our pressure is at zero right now. So I’m going to watch this slowly creep up and once it hits ten pounds of pressure, everything over ten pounds is going to be released through this vent so you’re going to hear it start to make this noise. (sound of pressure gauge weight rattling) A rattle noise. As the pressure is released. This recipe says we need to process our jars for 100 minutes. That 100 minute timer doesn’t start until our pressure canner has reached ten pounds of pressure. So right now we’re still just waiting to build up the right pressure before I can start my timer. (sound of weight rattling) And this is the noise and consistency that we’re looking for. So now I can start my timer for 100 minutes for processing time. My timer for 100 minutes just went off. So all I did was turn off the heat on the stove. From here, you just let it cool naturally. It’s very tempting to take the weight off because then the steam is going to release faster and the whole pressure canner is going to cool down faster but it’s actually important for the sealing of your jars to just let it come down to pressure naturally. So I waited for the dial on the pressure canner to reach zero and then I took off the weight. There was just a little puff of air left in it. So I took off the lid and I’m just going to remove them, one by one. and there you have it. That can will stay just fine on a shelf, no refrigeration needed. There’s still some pressure change happening in the jars. So that’s how you pressure can fish. And it’s pretty crazy that now this is all going to be shelf stable even though it’s fish and it started with bones in it, that would’ve been a nuisance to pick out, now it’s totally shelf stable it doesn’t need to be refrigerated or frozen, and you’ll never have to worry about picking out bones. Hey, so I know that was a long video so thanks for sticking with me. There are just a lot of moving pieces when it comes to making fresh fish shelf stable. I mentioned a few things throughout the video… I mentioned where to find the recipe and check the description below. I’ll make sure to put a link to that recipe from the University of Fairbanks website. And also, a trick to getting your stuck pressure canner back open after processing cans I’ll put a link to that video in the description below. If you liked this video, please give it a thumb’s up so other people get help finding it easier. Or if you really loved it, subscribe to me! That way you’ll get a notification every time I upload something new. Thanks!

55 thoughts on “TUTORIAL: Pressure Canning Fish for Beginners (step-by-step)

  1. This video was very helpful and interesting, thank you for making it. This is Dave from the Georgia north mountains. I had to change my name for privacy.
    I really wanted you to know how I enjoy everyone of your videos.

  2. hello,, very good video,, how do you use the fish?,, I have never had canned fish,, do you have a recipe for the fish,, thank you James,,

  3. Thank you soooo much!! I am new to canning and just bought my first pressure canner, an American Canner 925…I am certainly nervous about canning fish and other meats, but that's exactly what I purchased it for. Thank you for the detailed explanations and taking it slow yet at a doable pace. I will let you know how it works out. Looking forward to learning more from you. #appreciated

  4. is there a reason why you didnt use the funnel to pack your fish into the jars…that way you dont get fish residue on the lip .. ?

  5. oh and one more thing, in all video, they never tell you how far to turn your temperature dial on your stove top. Do you put it full blast to get a hard boil for 100minutes ? or do you go half strenghts…etc… ? thank you

  6. Thank you for this informative video. I had to look away and just listen most of the time. Too much camera movement gives me motion sickness. 🙁 But I learned a lot anyway!

  7. Great video! What do you use canned fish for? Does pressure cooking it for so long make it mushy?

  8. Once it is pressure cooked, does it still need cooked afterwards or can you just pop the lid on it and eat it like it is?

  9. Thank you so much for taking time to share this!! Can't wait to finally start up now with confidence. That was really helpful

  10. I live on the banks of the Conecuh River plus near the Gulf of Mexico and love to fish, so, there is plenty at my house. Will start canning all this fish and have more room in my two freezers. Also raise plenty of vegetables and fruit, will can this also. Thanks for your video. By the way, I am sitting here in my boxers drinking a homebrew.

  11. Omgosh! You're fish video is amazing! I JUST bought a canner today and I can't wait to try this! I live in TX though. Can I just go to the store and buy fish from the counter/butcher's or the freezer section? Also, can we add seasoning to the jars before they are canned? Thank you for your help and instruction. My family will be so surprised when I do this. 
    Stay fresh, 

  12. One more question: is the food still safe to eat if it's not totally covered in juice after it's canned? I thought the food has to stay submerged for safety.
    Thanks again, 

  13. Thanks for a great refresher fish canning video! I have done it successfully once with a batch of trout that I caught, processed and canned myself and was very satisfied with the results…. that was some time ago now and I have a large catch in the freezer waiting for my second canning… I would like to move up to one of those nice American canners!

  14. You don't need to sterilize jars when pressure canning since you're canning at 248 degrees. A good wash with soap and hot water is sufficient. I have always used a rag dipped in distilled vinegar to wipe the rims, the vinegar ensures that any and all fats that might be on the rim is disolved and wiped away. I always add aout 1/4 cup of vinegar to the water in the canner, this prevents the jars from getting cloudy(this happens on the outside from mineral build up). The vaseline is not needed. If you're having a problem getting the lid off after it's not from vacuum. Once your canner cools and you'r e ready to open it and you've removed the weight there is no vacuum. You're having trouble removing the lid due to surface tension created by the vaseline.

  15. I made three pints of this in March for my Dad. He loved it so much, I’m doing nine pints for Fathers Day today! Thanks for the great video!

  16. Your glass top stove does ok for pressure cooker? And you don't add any water to the fish? Do you do the same procedure for canning smoked fish?

  17. Hi there, thanks for the great video! My question is, I see,you used the all America canner on a glass top stove! I was told you couldn’t use that on there.

  18. Ok, so you cut up the fish… I'm guessing you use the fish in a recipe mixed with other things? What if you don't want cut up fish?

  19. I have a question. Does the lid allow any air out during the cooking process? Because 1, I would think the jars would burst from pressure if it didnt.. And 2, I think it has to or a vacuum could not be made when it all cools down. So gas must come out right? and 3, if gas does past the lid seal during cooking, dont you run the risk of contaminating your seal with the food product when it boils? Im probably over thinking this whole thing but im very interested to know. Thank you.

  20. excellent tutorial. I have canned for 50+ years, and you explained all the steps in a very understandable way. My sister lived in Alaska for 30 + years and canned tons of salmon. She brought my parents several cases around 20 years ago. Mom and dad ate it sparingly because it was so precious in their eyes to eat too frequently. Eventually some of the jars were "lost" in the back of the pantry. When I came into their home to help them in their final years, I started using it as much as possible, They were approaching 20 years old by this time, but OMG it was so good. I made patties, (tuna) salad, and salmon dip (see my video). This was just plain Salmon. But their smoked salmon was so good we just dumped it into a bowl and picked up chunks of it with toothpicks and ate it "naked". lol Thanks for showing a new generation how to do this. Subscribed and very happy to meet you.

  21. grest job. questin There are not videos on eating canned walleye can I eat like bateered fish fry because textures are gone . make video and reciepes on canned fish. Thank you very much

  22. They recommend not boiling lids any more and just warming then if your pressure canning you don't need to to boil your jar just wash them in hot water and rinse them. Great video ive been canning for over 38 ears and love to can my trout in the spring. Hope to see more from you.

  23. Just read the manual. Don't leave the weight on when it cools down. It prevents the air from coming inside of the canner. As soon as the canner calms down, take the weight off. I have never had issues with the vacuum inside of the canner.

  24. Thank you for posting this video!  I was able to confidently can some shad by following your video.  The explanation is easy to understand and the demonstration is wonderful. The links were helpful too.

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