Date: May 1989 (Revised June 1996)
Source: University of Wisconsin
Can fish as soon as possible after you catch them. Immediately after catching, gut the fish and chill to delay spoilage. Do not leave fish exposed to sunlight, or throw them in the bottom of the boat where they will get stepped on and bruised. After cleaning, pack fish in a cooler of crushed ice. You want to get the fish home in the best possible condition.
Bacteria can cause spoilage under ordinary conditions. These organisms are everywhere in the air, soil and water. They are naturally associated with fish that are alive and in the water, or after their removal from the water and before you pack them in a jar.
Before canning, sort the fish according to variety, size and condition. Remove head, tail, fins, and scales. Wash and remove all blood. Split fish lengthwise, if desired. Cut cleaned fish into 3-1/2 inch lengths. Fill pint jars, skin side next to glass, leaving 1-inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per pint, if desired. Do not add liquids. Adjust lids and process.
Do not can any fish product unless you use a pressure canner. It is impossible to sufficiently heat treat or process fish by any other means.
Use pint jars to can fish. Do not can fish in containers larger than one pint, because the procesing time necessary to produce a safe product results in an undesirable product.
Use wide-mouth pint jars, new two-piece vacuum seal lids and screw bands. Process time for fish in a pressure canner is 100 minutes. Pressure varies with type of canner and altitude. Your county offfice of the NDSU Extension Service can provide this information.
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