"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Canning: Hickory-Smoked Wild-Caught Mackerel

Canned smoked wild-caught mackerel
Last year, I posted about canning mackerel (supplied by my friends who go fishing for fun, so they gave some of their frozen excess mackerels to me).

This year, I joined my friends to fish for mackerel in Rockland, ME. We spent from 11 am to 3:30 pm fishing.

My friend Cecilia and her husband invited me to join them fishing for Mackerels


We used the "Christmas Tree" jigs, aka, fish streamers, where there are 4 hooks with fiberglass type of bunched fibers. At times, we would catch as much as 4 in one go. The mackerels come in waves of "schools of fish" so in between waves, we wait for maybe about 2-5 minutes.  But we were able to fill our bigger cooler then half of the smaller cooler when we finally decided to call it quits.

We split in half, approxiimately. I counted 161 of those I brought home.
It was so much fun, and the main thing that would restrict us from going for more is how we were going to deal with the catch afterwards (the time to take to clean them and still manage to keep them fresh; freezer space; smoking and/or canning). I do can them and I have plenty of freezer space, but my friend Cecilia decided to share some of her portion to our other friends to make her job more manageable.

While my prior blog post was with non-smoked mackerels in pint jars, I did try a batch last year with smoked mackerel, in half-pint jars, and I liked the smoked mackerel better. I got the idea when I found a Japanese-made smoked mackerel in olive oil from an Asian store. So this year, I am making more of them. They are that good. As a matter of fact, I brought a jar to work tonight and shared with two co-workers who love fish (but not sushi) and are also fans of canned herring and sardines. They loved it!

So now I am sharing with you my recipe for canned smoked mackerel.

As a side note, wild-caught oily fish like mackerel is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids (twice that of salmon), the various vitamin B's, and vitamin D. Good for the heart! Click here for more nutrition info on Atlantic mackerel.

There are two steps involved, of course: smoking and canning. This is after you have cleaned the fish and kept them iced. Cut them in either bit-sized pieces or use the half pint-jars to measure the length of cut, such that when you pack the jars with mackerel, there should still be 1 inch of headspace remaining.

Step 1 - SMOKING:

Prepare the brine. For every gallon bags of cut mackerel, use this recipe:
2 qts water
1 cup canning salt
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 T garlic powder
1/4 T onion powder

Pieces of mackerel in brine, kept in fridge overnight

Soak the pieces for at least 4 hours in the fridge, or overnight up to a day. Rinse in cold water.
My cheap smoker, kept in the garage

Pre-heat the smoker and start the smoke with hickory wood chips. (You might want to try other wood chips like Apple or Alder.)

Cold-smoking for one hour (with lid on, of course!)

Smoke for about 1 hour. You don't want to dry up the fish before canning (if you are not canning, you may smoke the whole fish for 3 hours and continue to dry for another hour).

Step 2 - CANNING:

(If you are new to pressure-canning, please learn the principles first using this website.)

Washed in dishwasher

While pre-heating the smoker, prepare your jars. Your jars should have been cleaned (use the dishwasher and start getting them out when ready to fill).

For every half-pint jar, add the following:
1/8 tsp canning salt
2 whole peppercorn
small piece of bay leaf
1 pitted olive
pieces of tomato pulp (I used my canned whole tomatoes; you can use cherry tomato if you have them)
1/2 Tbsp vinegar (I used homemade.)
sprinkling of garlic powder and garlic onion to taste

Tightly packed

Tightly pack with the mackerel pieces. (They will shrink some upon pressure-canning.)

Add olive oil (I used organic extra virgin) until it fills the jar up such that it has a 1-inch headspace. This is important in pressure-canning. It is necessary to prevent boil-overs and create a good vacuum seal.

Should have 1 inch headspace before placing lids and bands

Wipe the rim of the jars. Place the lid. Apply the bands finger-tight (to allow air to escape but still have good seal after cooling down.

I had 3 layers of half-pint jars.

Pressure-can for 110 minutes.

Let pressure naturally release (I do this overnight) before opening the canner (I do the next day).

Check that all jars have sealed properly. If some have not, consume those first. Keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. (I had none that failed to seal.)

Approved by my sons, in-laws, and co-workers (those that love fish, that is!).

Enjoy as snack, or as ulam!

I just inspired my brother-in-law and his wife, and some of my co-workers to fish for mackerel and/or to can them.



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