Introduction: How to Can Carp

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Carp are an underrated fish. In the waters of the midwest U.S. they are abundant, and actually have very good meat.  The reason that more people don't eat them is that they can taste muddy, and they have bones throughout their muscles, making for a rather unpleasent surprise if you munch down on one. 

This instructable will show you how to cook the carp in such a way that there isn't a muddy taste, and the small bones will disolve, making for much easier eating.

So lets get going.

Step 1: Get Your Carp

Now, if you are new to fishing, you will learn quickly that carp like relatively shallow water, and will eat a variety of different baits, although corn and worms are my favorites.  For this instructable I am using Carp that I bowfished out of a creek as it enters a nearby lake.  Mine were in about the muddiest water imaginable, (some have described it as a field to thin to plow) and if I can make it so they don't taste like mud, you should have no problems with yours.

Once you catch a carp, give it a blow on the back of the head to kill it, and then keep it cold until you are ready to clean it. 

I clean my carp by filleting as you would any other fish.  This isn't a real filet, as there are still bones in it.  When you remove the skin, you will see a line of dark red meat, running along the lateral line.  YOU WANT TO REMOVE ALL RED MEAT!!!  This is where most of the muddy flavor comes from, and is also where contaminants will be concentrated if there are any. 

So now we have the light meat from the carp with small bones in it, time to start canning

Step 2: Get Your Canning Supplies

This recipe is to make 1 quart jar of canned carp.

You will need
1 glass canning jar with lid
Pressure canner
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon ketchup (this is mostly for color, but does add some flavor)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground chili flakes (optional)
2 bay leaves (optional)

Cut your carp into cubes, about 1 inch square.  Don't worry if they are a little bit bigger or smaller as long as it fits in the jar. Pack the carp into the jar, leaving about an inch of headspace.  You need the space so that nothing forces itself out under the lid and prevents a proper seal.

Add the rest of the ingredients and shake well.  Don't worry if it isn't completely evenly mixed, the cooking process with mix things up a bit.   

You can halve the recipe in order to make pint jars of carp, which I think are a little easier to use, especially if, like me, you are the only one in your house who likes fish. 

Step 3: Pressure Can

Following your manufacturer's instructions, can the carp for 90 minutes at 15 lbs pressure. I can tell you how long to can it for, and the pressure, but you need to follow your manufacturer's instructions as far as how many cans you can do, and how much water to add. 

Be careful.  I nearly went dry when I was canning, so be very careful, if you stop hearing the wobbler, you may have a problem on your hands.  You could have run out of water, or the release could be clogged, either way, remove from heat and consult your manual as to what to do next.  Remember you are working with a pressure vessel, which may blow up if not used properly. 

So be careful, it isn't worth blowing up your kitchen for a batch of canned carp. 

Step 4: Enjoy Your Carp

You will find that your canned carp still has bones, but they are soft, and no longer will hurt your mouth when you bite into them.  The ketchup will have dyed your carp a pale pink, like salmon.  I think that carp canned this way has a flavor like mild tuna fish, and could be used in any recipe that calls for tuna.  Remember that your carp is already cooked, so you don't need to worry about cooking it again. 

So go ahead and use your canned carp in place of tuna fish, and see if you can really taste the difference.  Perhaps you too will become a fan of this underutilized and underrated fish.   

If you are interested in fishing for, or finding recipes for carp and similar fish, I cannot suggest anything better than the book Fishing for Buffalo.  It has information on all sorts of "rough fish", and you can find my review of it here.