1. No need for electricity (freezers)
2. Keeps good for a LONG time
3. Dissolves bones to make it extra rich in calcium
4. Camp food!
5. Why not?
Many think that when backcountry camping the table fair is always going to be bland at best. Dehydrated soup, potato flakes, MRE's, ramen, you know the stuff. But it doesn't have to be that way! Foraging is one thing, but what if you are on the move, or its dark, or you're traveling in a protected area like a National Park? This is when canned fish is at its best: around the campfire after a long day's hike. But its good any old time too...
How to can fish at home:
To find a good Mullet stream, its important to ask around. Talk to locals and old-timers. Generally they run up from large lakes just after spring thaw to spawn in the shallow cricks. Here they can be netted, speared or caught with hook and line, but check your local legislation before attempting to take fish.
Thanks to Mr. Todd Brasseur for your help!
"When the Europeans came here they literally were starving... Food sprang from the earth but they starved. So we brought them the sucker. And they survived. And then their memories fade. And they forget. And when the [Western] water crisis of 2001 occurred, they called it 'trash fish' - not good for anything. But our memories are intact. And we remember how they survived on the sucker. And we remember how we continually survive on this sucker. And they are not trash fish. They are light and flaky, and some of the best white meat you'll eat in your entire life."
- Perry Chocktoot Jr., director of Culture and Heritage for the Klamath Tribes
Step 3: Scale and gut the fish. After scaling, rinse and remove the entrails. This one was a female full of roe. (May 2013. Update: While doing this I thought "if they say the bones dissolve when canned, wouldn't the scales too?" So I tried it and yup. Now, I only gut 'em and cut the head and fins off.)
Step 5: Remove fins and belly. A high-carbon cleaver makes this job a lot easier.
Step 7: Recruit some help. I'd say that Maria really got "suckered" into this one, but that would be too cheesy.
Step 10: Pressure Can! Place in pressure canner with 2-3" of water in the bottom being sure not to let jars touch. Close lid and vent all air from the canner for 10 minutes. Build up pressure for 11lbs (at my altitude) and start timing the canning procedure, adjusting the heat methodically to keep the pressure accurate.
Do not use this tutorial to learn how to use your canner. Refer to the instructions that come with the canner! Very Important.
Step 12: Remove Jars. Easy enough, but remember they are HOT and still cooking in there. Once they are cool they are ready to be stored in a dark place, or eaten! The last step is almost as fun as catching the fish:
Step 13: Feast! The fish is now soft and the bones are mostly dissolved much like canned tuna. There are several vertebrae that weren't completely dissolved but these turned to calcium powder once pressed with a fork.
I served the fish over Rye bread and topped it with pickled Fiddlehead Ferns. Washed down with Mugwort Ale! The perfect spring meal.
Feel free to contact us if you are interested in catching Mullet and helping can them next spring! Fun for the whole family.