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Preserving fish without refrigeration

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What is the issue?
Fish caught on long passages are often too large to be consumed in one sitting by the average cruising couple and most cruisers do not have refrigeration.

Why address this?
By having a technique to preserve food without refrigeration it is possible to provide an external alternative to tinned products and avoid the waste of large quantities of excellent fish.

How to address this?
Firstly you will need a pressure cooker and some bottling jars. We used the type with the rubber seals and clip fastening lids.

You need to ensure that there is no bacteria in the jars or on the seals so it is necessary to boil all of the equipment for fifteen minutes. Whilst this is happening prepare your fish by cutting into meal sized fillets appropriate for a crew sitting. Once the fifteen minutes are up remove the jars and place on a clean surface, try not to touch the insides of the jars or lids and use tongs to remove the seals. Place the fish in the jars leaving a gap of about two centimetres at the top. We used to just cover the fish with water and bit of salt added, some people however had quite specific recipes with vinegar, sugar and oil and omitted the water. Get a clean cloth and wipe the rim of the jar to remove any spills and bits of fish then place the seal on the jar and close the lid using the snap lock fastener.

Place the jars in the pressure cooker and cover with cold water making sure they are about two cm below the surface of the water. Make sure there is plenty of space around the jars so that they don’t bang together.

Close the pressure cooker and bring to the boil then place the weight on top of the steam outlet. Start timing at this point and boil for thirty minutes. Remove the jars very carefully from the pressure cooker as they are extremely hot and place them on a surface covered with a clean towel. You can test that the seal is secure by removing the clip fastener and gently pulling on the lid. If it remains closed there is a closed seal but if it lifts the seal has not worked and you will need to pressurise it again using a cleaned seal.

If you find that none of the seals are working after thirty minutes boiling time you may need to increase this in ten minute intervals until you find the right time for your system.

The sealed jars will keep in a cool dark locker for months but be sure to test the seal before eating the contents and discard if it is broken.

There is something very satisfying about catching your own fish and to have to discard more than you can eat is heartbreaking. This method ensures that you can enjoy all of your catch even in a remote anchorage or on a passage where you have been unable to catch a fish.

With thanks to:
Jayne Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

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