Canned Salmon Tutorial

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This tutorial will show how to can salmon using a pressure canner.  I am using sockeye salmon we catch in a net at the Fraser River.
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Step 1: Prepare your jars and scale the fish

Picture of Prepare your jars and scale the fish
Prepare your jars. They don't have to be sterilized, just clean, because they will end up in the pressure canner and be sterilized there. I used six salmon and finished up with 22 half pints and 15 pints. Averaging 5 pints per fish.

Scale the fish. You take a knife and scrape backwards scraping all the scales off. There's a special tool to do this but I've never tried it and after scaling as many fish as I have I'm tempted to buy one. I've viewed it in use online and it looks like it would be quicker and easier on the fingers. Don't worry if you don't get every single scale off, you just need the majority gone.

Step 2: Removing fins

Picture of Removing fins
The next thing is to cut off all the fins. You can do this first if you like and sometimes I do :) There are two fins on the sides, one fin on the bottom and two fins on the top, five in total. I cut the tails off when I clean the fish so that's already gone. Make sure the fish is clean. I save all those fins and little bits to can for catfood so don't throw them out if you have a cat!

Step 3: Top fin

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Use a good sharp knife.

Step 4: Cutting your salmon

Picture of Cutting your salmon
I use a meat cleaver and it works great for slicing and cutting right through the backbone.  I cut my salmon steaks to fit. I also place them into the jar "skin side in," most books say "skin side out," but I don't like the look or how they stick in the jar after processing. Bones, skin, and all, go into the jar, those bones will soften later by adding vinegar and the processing.

Step 5: Packing your jars

Picture of Packing your jars
Pack tightly into jars, leaving about a 1 inch head space, I estimate this and it doesn't have to be perfect, just close.  Here's a bit skinnier pieces in a half pint jar, tightly packed.
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MariaR137 days ago

Have u considered just putting bbq sauce in ur jars instead of cooking then canning- thus twice cooking! That's what I do!,

Wondering though- do u eat the skin? Maybe that's a stupid ? Idk!! I have always skinned it before canning but looking to can larger quantity so wanna save time!! Thanx!!

kansasa (author)  MariaR137 days ago

I'm not sure what you mean because I do raw pack and only cook once when it's canned. Yes, we eat the skin when it's done this way. It's usually mashed with a fork and mayo added and put in a sandwich or mashed and used for fish patties... once in a blue moon I will add it to a salad and gently flake it with a fork. Also the only time I've heard of using BBQ sauce is when people can't get real sockeye salmon and usually are covering up the taste of a cheap substitute such as chum or what we call "humpies."

snashold9 days ago

A few comments:

1: I like your Instructable; nice directions and photos.

2: I have never used vinegar when canning my salmon and have never had bones that did not soften to the point of being nearly unnoticeable when eating it; in fact, I take the backbones from the fish that were filleted and stuff them in the jars alongside the fish I am canning, thus utilizing the meat that is stuck to the bones and also adding more calcium to my food.

3. There is no need to cut the fins off; they will soften up and disappear into the meat. Also, there is fatty tissue around the base of each fin, making them more rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

4. I never remove scales. They also soften when canned.

5. last year I tried canning heads and was surprised at how well they turned out. They look pretty ugly in the jars and it was many months before I finally tasted them (because they looked so bad), but I found them to be delicious --better even than the plain meat. The only things that did not soften were the eyeball balls and the bigger teeth. This summer I plan to cut those out and then stuff half heads in between chunks of meat to make it look more appealing.

Most Westerners seem to throw away some of the best parts.

LauraR85 months ago
We tried this last night with our Presto 23qt canner. Only half sealed.
Our elevation is around 1900 and most documents stated to can at 10lbs for 100min. Friends said they do 15lbs for 100 min...we used 15lbs would that make a difference? Or did we have too many jars? Our jars were not overfull...the ones on the right didn't seal.Any suggestions?
kansasa (author)  LauraR85 months ago
It could be a number of reasons. How old are your lids? Although sometimes even new lids are bad right from the start. I've never canned anything at 15lbs so I don't know much about that. My elevation is only about 800 and you are more than double that, so maybe google and find out if that can make a difference. I would replace the lids and re-can, no harm in doing that at all and I hope you have better luck.
LauraR8 kansasa5 months ago
Everything was brand new (jars lids rings). As we finished late,(1am) we left the jars in the pressure canner all night.. i didnt think the unsealed jars would be good as they weren't refrigerated immediately after cooling. Then i get home tonight and 10 of them had sealed during the day...I don't know what to make of it lol.
Canning is a crazy business :)
Amazmerizing6 months ago

Wow... I have been looking for a homemade canned salmon recipe for years!!! My Grandmother used to make it... it was the best stuff on earth... no lie!!! Thank you to the moon and back!!! Am trying ASAP!!!

kansasa (author)  Amazmerizing6 months ago
Thanks Amazmerizing, I hope you enjoy it, we all do here. Let me know if you like it. :)
mjtalbott9 months ago

i can not find pure white vinegar. can i use distilled vinegar instead? if so how much would i use?

a1cndn9 months ago

Just a word about finishing after removing the jars from the pressure cooker.

We place our hot jars upside down onto a towel on the counter. Heat rises and this causes a tighter seal on the lid while cooling. When they cool down we remove the ring and clean up any spillage that might have occurred during canning. Then replace the ring ( finger tight only.)

Test the lids after jars have cooled by pressing down on them at the center. If they oil can ( you'll hear it ) reprocess or eat the contents soon.

nancy.cheff.59 months ago

I have pressure canned quite a few jars of salmon over the past week or so. Some of them turned out great but alas, a few of them the bones were not soft ~ could this mean that I didn't pressure can them long enough and if so ... can I re-pressure can them now? Thanks for the detailed instructions ...

kansasa (author)  nancy.cheff.59 months ago

I would think letting them sit longer and the bones would soften up because the vinegar has more to do with softening the bones than the time of the pressure canning. Yes you can redo them but I would add a touch more vinegar.

Thanks for your quick answer. Greatly appreciated!

schworak10 months ago

Thanks for the detailed instructions & the great photos. Can this technique be used for tuna?

kansasa (author)  schworak10 months ago
I don't know schworak, I've never tried tuna but I would imagine it would be okay.

my husband just followed your recipe and ended up with lots of water in the jars.

Is that supposed to happen?

kansasa (author)  donna.west.1612110 months ago

No there shouldn't be any water. Did he screw down the rings properly?

yes we both checked them. Now that it's cooled down the

water is down to 1/4 of the jar. I'm puzzled where it came from.

kansasa (author)  donna.west.1612110 months ago

That sounds more normal, a little bit of water and oil is what you're supposed to have but not lots of water. I would say the water/oil comes from the fish.

we had the cut up fish in the fridge overnight

So it was cold when we did it.

vanessa.stufft10 months ago

Great instructions... but I have a stupid question... so after filling the jars with the fish and you have more jars then room in the cooker, can you put the jars in the frig? or do you only cut up as much fish for each bach. This takes alot longer to do than veggies, LOL, but I really want to can this year.

kansasa (author)  vanessa.stufft10 months ago
I stick them in the fridge until they are ready for the next batch.
RonK410 months ago

thank you for this, I expect to do a fair amount of salmon as soon as my pressure cooker gets here from amazon, have you tried putting up cold smoked salmon since it does last as long as hot smoked does?

RonK4 RonK410 months ago

that is does not last as long as hot smoked

kansasa (author)  RonK410 months ago

I don't can smoked salmon at all, rather I vacuum pack it and then freeze it. Sometimes I bake salmon, save the oil from the baking of it, strip off all the skin and bones, and add the meat to jars. Put in coarse salt, liquid smoke, and the saved oil. Process for 100 minutes in pressure cooker. It's very delicious but time consuming to remove all the skin and bones.

RosieChalk8310 months ago

After you put vinegar and salt do you add water, maybe I missed this step?

kansasa (author)  RosieChalk8310 months ago

No you don't add water. The water is added to the pressure cooker but not to the inside of the jars.

how much vinegar do u put in each jar when ur using 250 ml. jars

kansasa (author)  cathy.hayward.5010 months ago

1 TEASPOON for PINTS (500 ml jars)

1/2 TEASPOON for HALF PINTS (250 ml jars)

how much vinegar do u put in each jar when ur using 250 ml. jars

I have been looking for a recipe for pressure canning fish, now I found the right one, most of them don't call for vinegar but I'am a firm believer that the vinegar softens the bones thank you..

Lynnegg11 months ago

Thank you for the detailed instructions. Great photos also.

I plan to can 3 sockeye tomorrow morning.

friesberry11 months ago

Wonderful instructions. Thank you. It made my first time canning salmon experience so much easier. Can't wait to try it out!

puggirl4151 year ago
Thanks again for this tutorial. I'm super late to this party but I just have to comment on how much I like your work here. Canning Tuna is my holy grail. After 3 years of pressure canning I feel like I'm ready to work with this expensive ingredient. Salmon sounds like a great fish to do as well. My question - (hope you look at this occasionally:) Can fish be pressure canned in olive oil? I just like tuna in olive oil in a can so I wondered? I'm willing to give up on this in practice, but I keep trying to get a definitive answer anyway. The internet is strong on results for canning from folks who know a bit about canning fruits and vegetables, but it is harder to find people who have gone so far as to can fish and meat successfully and safely. I'll probably do the fish in water my first time because I like that too. Thanks in advance if you do reply.
kansasa (author)  puggirl4151 year ago
I don't see why not Puggirl415. I've never heard of it being a problem. I can the way my tutorial says but I also can fish another way quite often... I bbq it on a cookie sheet with sides and then strip off all the meat discarding bones and skins. I save the oil from the cookie sheet that came from the fish, this is important! I then put all the meat into pint jars, add a touch of liquid smoke, coarse salt, and then the oil I saved when I bbq'ed the fish, it's a small amount, maybe 1/4 cup per jar, but it makes a difference. This I will eat right from the jar! It is soooo good. :)
jatoha3 years ago
Wonderful instructions! You are so fortunate to have so much salmon.

I am curious, how does your home canned salmon compare to the canned salmon in stores?
kansasa (author)  jatoha3 years ago
Personally I've never bought canned salmon from the store but I understand most of it is "pinks" and I only can sockeye. My husband has tried store bought and he says it's terrible.
Eh, It tastes like tuna, only salmony...If you can understand that O.o' But anyway, nice toutorial!!! I really like it.
sunshiine3 years ago
Thanks for sharing.
kansasa (author)  sunshiine3 years ago
You're welcome. :)
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