Introduction: Canned Salmon Tutorial

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.

Step 1: 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

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

Use a good sharp knife.

Step 4: 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

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.

Step 6: Course Salt

After all your jars are filled it's time to add course salt.  Do NOT use table salt!

Step 7: Add Vinegar (optional)

This step is purely optional.  I like to add vinegar to soften the bones.  It's the same measurements as the salt.

Step 8: Cleaning the Rims of Jars

Take a paper towel that's been dipped in vinegar and wipe the rims of all the jars. Salmon is considered a fatty fish so by doing this you wipe away the oil along with the little bits of stuff stuck to the rim for a better seal. It's extremely important to get those rims clean! I ended up with only one jar not sealed, not bad for as many jars as I did :)

Step 9: Heating Your Lids

Bring water to a boil in a pot, turn heat off and add as many lids as you need. After 10 minutes place on your clean jars, screw on bands (finger tight, do not over tighten!), and put them in your pressure canner.

Tip:   After adding about two inches of water to my pressure canner I add a few glugs of vinegar because we have hard water and it keeps the white off the jars. Place lid on pressure canner.

Step 10: Pressure Canner

I own an All-American Pressure canner, and my directions say when you see steam allow the canner to vent for 7 minutes but follow the directions for your brand of pressure canner.  After venting I place the weight on and after the first rattle (right around 10 lbs of pressure), I turn down the stove and time for 100 minutes, keeping the pressure around 10 lbs throughout. I used to do 90 minutes but guidelines have changed and most newer books will now state 100 minutes (1 hour 40 minutes).

If your pressure drops below 10 lbs guidelines say you must start timing all over again so it's important to keep an eye on it!!

Step 11: Pressure Canner

I let my jars sit undisturbed for about 24 hours.  After that remove the rings and wash in warm soapy water.

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