Capt. Bryan Roccucci (Big Daddy’s Guide Service)
I have been getting questioned on the boat lately about how I go about canning my Kokanee fillets, so I thought I would put together a little “how to” or more appropriately “how I do it” article. Before I get into to it let me start by saying canning and preserving food of any type can be a rewarding way to make use of abundance, and allow you to enjoy your harvest throughout the year. That said you need to be very aware of canning and preserving procedures and techniques which will ensure your products are done in a safe manner. I encourage you to use this article only as a guideline and if you are new to canning/preserving foods at home please seek out additional information to ensure you will be preserving your foods in an appropriate and safe manner.
You know this has to start out on the boat, we need to catch the Kokanee to get this process started. Kokanee can be found locally in a number of Sierra lakes. The fish for this article were taken at Bucks Lake, which has a fantastic Kokanee population. I prefer to get the dirty work out of the way on the boat, by breaking the fish down into skinless fillets, pack the filets in a zip lock bag and keep them on ice for the ride home. No need to worry about the rib bones or the fine Y bones, they will completely dissolve in the pressure canning process.
Back in the kitchen we have a stack of cleaned and rinsed Kokanee fillets. I like to dry them with paper towels following the rinse.
When it comes to the jars I like to use the half pint wide mouth size. I have done full pint size jars in the past, but in many cases when using the fish later, it seemed to be more fish than I needed. With the half pints, if you need more just open another. Here are some jars out of the dishwasher and ready to be packed.
The fillets are cut and packed tightly into the jars leaving 3/4 inch of head space at the top. Then I like to add 1/8 tsp. of black pepper and 1/4 tsp. of sea salt along with a dash of olive oil. There are many popular “additives” when it comes to canning fish including herbs, peppers, and various condiments, I like to keep it simple with the salt and pepper and figure I can add stuff after opening the jar if I want to.
The jar lids are kept in hot water to soften the sealing compound and promote a better seal to the jar. The green tool in the picture is magnetic and keeps you from having to burn your fingers. Before the lids are placed on the jars, each jar’s rim is wiped down with a paper towel moistened with hot water. This removes any particles that might prevent getting a good seal.
Ok here we go, lids on, bands on (just snug not tight) and into the pressure canner along with 8 cups of water. My pressure canner is not the biggest one out there, but will hold 10 of the half pint wide mouth jars in two layers. Please follow all safety instructions and directions with your particular pressure canner.