I love to fish for blue gills, crappie, sunfish, just about all panfish. Some of the lakes and ponds we fish around home here are over populated with small fish to the point that they don't allow good growth of larger fish.
Some of the land owners, that I have the privilege of fishing their ponds or lakes, have often asked me to just toss the lil' ones over the bank. This seemed to be a big waste to me so I set out to find a good use for them. I did a little talking around to some buddies and family members and the idea we hit on was to can them in mason jars.
I scale, clean and cut the heads,tails and fins off all the fish. I'm not sure why but tails and fins seem to cause problems with the preserving of the fish.
Cut the fish into chunks and pack them into mason jars. Pack the jars fairly tight but be sure to leave about 1 inch of head space on the jar. Next add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. Fill the jar to about 1/2 inch from the rim with water and place "clean lid" on "clean" jar rim. It is very important that the lid and jar rim be clean and free of any oils. Put lid bands on just finger tight and place in a pressure canner. Place as many jars as your canner will hold in it each batch (mine holds 8 Qt jars). Place lid on canner and seal it up.
Once the pressure reaches about 12 to 13 lbs. adjust your heat to hold that pressure for 45 minutes to an hour. After the time is up turn heat off let pressure come down on canner and then remove the jars carefully and give the bands a little tighter twist. Set on a towel out of any cool drafts. As the jars cool you will hear the lids pop as they seal themselves. When jars are completely cool, push on the center of the lids if any pop they aren't sealed and need to be used right away. The fish are now ready to use in the same manner as you would canned salmon or mackerel.
This is a great way to enjoy the fish of summer
, when there is 6 inches of snow on your boat cover.
My favorite recipe for the canned fish is to make fried fish cakes. I take a jar of the fish. 1 whole pack of saltine crackers. 1 whole onion (some may like more or less). 2 eggs. Pepper or seasoning. I don't add salt as the crackers have plenty for my taste. Place all ingredients in a big bowl and work it all togeather untill it is mixed well and can be patted into hamburger size patties. Fry in a skillet with your favorite oil or if your like me bacon grease. Yummy stuff! Try some tartar sauce, lemon juice or any of your favorite "fish" condiments on them.
Give this a try the next time your catching bait instead of the bigguns.