Community Salmon Canning

Last Saturday a group of islanders got together for a community salmon canning workshop sponsored by our Food Program, an organization started about six months ago to get us thinking about food security and to bring people together to share practical skills related to sustainability. So far we've had workshops on artisanal bread baking, fish smoking, canning and sauerkraut-making, a nettle festival, and a community Christmas dinner that attracted over 100 people.

About twenty people showed up, some keen to get their hands dirty and others willing to just watch and listen. We cut up and canned a dozen or so very large chum salmon donated by a local fisher. A few of the participants were experienced fish canners who provided us with the expertise to get through the day without losing any fingers or blowing up a pressure canner. 

The process was simpler than I had expected. Our two experts had slightly different ways of preparing the salmon. The first had us scaling the salmon with a vegetable peeler and cutting it into chunks leaving the skin and bones intact, holding in more of the precious omega-3s.

The second technique involved skinning the fish, which eliminated the messy scaling process but also cut down on the moisture and nutritional value of the fish.

The fish was cut into chunks using the jars as a guide.

The salmon was stuffed into the jars, skin side out, leaving a one-inch headspace.

A small amount of salt was added, the jar rims were wiped clean, and the two-piece lids were placed and tightened.

The salmon was now ready for the canners.

The jars were processed at 10 pounds pressure in pressure canners for 100 minutes.

Seven hours and about 100 jars later the salmon was ready. Our goal for next year? 1000 pounds of sardines!