Canning: Wild Mackerel in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Homecanned wild-caught mackerel
I homecanned mackerel. If you have bought some mackerel in tin cans, I made my own version.
Why homecan?
1. It frees up my freezer space for new items that I can freeze. (We have chicken, pork and beef slaughtered in fall, so I need to clean up my freezers to prepare. That means I need to free up the space.)
2. Making a big batch, enjoy over an indefinite period of time, with serving portions good for a meal or two. This is especially handy when I have the craving for fish and no one to share it with. Both my sons are off to college. My husband does not eat mackerel.
3. When you are a control freak where foods are concerned, that you can be obsessive about the quality of the food you eat, from ingredients to sanitary conditions of food production. I want the best ingredients...BUT...
4. It's cheaper to make them yourself than to buy. A 4.4 oz of great quality canned wild mackerel that are sustainably harvested can cost from $1.25 to $3.15. (That means, the equivalent amount of my pint-jar of canned mackerel can demand anywhere from $5 to $12.60.)
5. They last longer. If canned properly, the shelf-life is basically indefinite. You don't even have to reheat before eating. Compare that to freezing, when they might get freezer burn if you don't consume within a year.
6. It's way for me to share with my sons my love of seafoods (or other foods). I send a jar or two of whatever I homecanned when they are going back to their dorm/apartment. They won't need a refrigerator or freezer for this, and they are ready to take along as well.
7. When fish is pressure-canned, you can eat the bones! That's calcium!

I don't fish as of this typing (maybe that will change later), but a few of my Filipina friends and their husbands do, and I am inkling towards going with them. Anyway, some of them do it for hobby (usually for their husbands initially). And so sometimes they overdo it -- they end up having too much than what their freezers can accommodate or what they can consume in a year. So they give away their excesses. And that's how I ended up with more than two gallon-bags of mackerel (even after this batch, I have two gallon-bags more of larger sized mackerels). They also gave me squids...with the ink bags intact!
Given by friends

If you are new to canning, please use this link to learn the principles of canning first before you embark on it. Believe me, botulism, a form of food poisoning, is common with homecanned foods. So please be smart. Be safe.

Ingredients & Instructions:

Clean the jars in hot soapy water. Inspect for nicks. Must be intact. No need to sterilize. The heat of pressure-cooking will sterilize the jars.
Sliced and kept in icewater

Clean the fish. Hopefully the innards were removed within two hours of catching. Otherwise, removed them before canning. Keep in icewater while you work on slicing the pieces and until you are ready to pack into the jars. You may add some vinegar into the water, they say to remove slime. Slice to fit in the jars you are using, or slice into bite-sized chunks. I like to use wide-mouth pint jars for this so the contents are easier to get out of the jar. You can gather the smaller pieces later to put in a jar, or to fill up spaces.(Note: Do not dump the water. You can use this to enrich your soil/water your garden.)

Boil water enough to cover the lids. Place the lids in then turn off the heat. Do not boil the lids. The heating is just to soften the rubber.

In each jar, place: 1/2 tsp canning salt (I use Morton's), a pinch-ful of whole black peppercorns (3-5 pcs), 1 small bay leaf, 1 pitted olive (I use canned green olives with the carrot or pimiento(?) inside and cut that in three), 1 cherry tomato (just because I was not sure what to do with my harvest). Sprinkle some toasted garlic (I had leftovers from a mushroom sauce-based dish I had for supper. I used my thumb and two fingers to get the amount I need per jar.)
My seasonings

Pack the mackerel in tightly. Use the smaller pieces to fill in. Push if you must to expel air.
Pack them tightly!

Add EVOO, about 3 to 4 T and 1 T vinegar (I used Datu Puti) to fill spaces (and to flavor, of course!) so that your headspace will be that space where you see the ridges for the cap/band (about 1 inch). Do not overfill. This is necessary so you don't have boil-overs and you will actually expel air out during processing (creating the vacuum seal).
See the headspace?

Use a butter knife or bubbler to release bubbles. (I am sure you will find videos on yt how to can, so you get the idea of what I mean here.) Wipe rims with paper towel to make sure there's no oil (that might prevent sealing of the lid's rubber against the jar rim) or other pieces that might interfere with the seal. Place in the pressure canner. Have as much as 2-3 inches water up the sides of the jars. Build the pressure to 10 psi. Time for 100 mins (I based this on an Alaskan govt's method of canning salmon). Let cool off completely before removing from the pot, without removing the weight.

Once pot is cool, open and lift the jars carefully. They might be oily. Wash them with soapy water. Let stand for 24 hours before removing the bands to check for seal. One way to check seal when the band is still on is to see if the lid is concave, which means it was pulled in by the vacuum created. Once you remove the bands, another way to check seal is to lift the jar up with your fingertips only touching the lid, not the jar itself. If lid stays, it's good to go and ready for storage.

Hope I sparked your interest in canning!

Below is the photo of the jar with the least amount of fish that I canned. Fish only filled half the jar, so I used cherry tomatoes as filler.
Straight out of the jar.

Smells and tastes like those sold in tin cans!


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