A weekly series about our food and sustainable agriculture.
Harriet Fasenfest, author of The Householder’s Guide to the Universe, and Marge Braker, a former Oregon Extension Home Economist, demonstrate how to safely can fresh sardines, including a basic primer on a pressure canner. In general, foods that are low in acidity require close attention to the temperature, pressure, and heating time instructions to avoid the potential of botulism poisoning.
The recipe and instructions below should be followed closely with the viewing of this video.
Pressure Canning Sardines- Recipe and Instructions
Warning: Failure to properly adhere to the canning instructions below, and in the video, may result in death.
When sardines are running off the Oregon coast its a great time to take advantage of these greatly underrated fish. At prices at under a dollar a pound (if you go to the docks) you will get a lot of nutrition for little expense. Sardines are known as a power food with high levels of Omega 3 and calcium given the tiny bones that can be left in the fish during canning. They also take well to different seasonings which is what makes home canning so much fun. After following a few basic rules regarding pressure canning you can create foods that match your flavor palate.
You will need:
- Sardines (about one pound per pint jar- depending on size – 2 to 3 sardines)
- *Brine Solution: One cup salt dissolved in a gallon of water.
*You will need enough of a brine solution to cover the fish. You may soak the fish in brine anywhere from one hour to overnight depending on the thickness of the fish. This is not necessary with canning though brining helps to remove some of the remaining blood in the flesh of the fish and leaves a nicer looking product particularly if you are using a filet where to flesh is exposed. With Sardines you are leaving the skin on the fish and packing them whole but I still like to brine them. I do so for about four hours but one hour will suffice. I would not suggest any longer.
Follow instructions for filling the jar as per the video. The ingredients added to each pint jar are:
- 1 teaspoon smokey paprika
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon vinegar (I used the vinegar from my picked nasturtiums pods)
- 1/8 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
Feel free to alter these ingredients. I think slices of preserved lemon, capers and onions would be nice. Dill and mustard seed or even some prepared mustard. The options are endless.
Now process in a pressure canner following our instructions (in the video) for one hour and forty minutes. For additional questions your local county extension office offers valuable assistance in all matters related to food preservation. We suggest you take advantage of this great service.
- Pressure Canner: Use and Care (pdf) Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service
- Canning Seafood (pdf) (OSU Extension Service)
- Harriet Fasenfest: Portland Preserve
- The Householder’s Guide to the Universe (Book and DVD)
by Harriet Fasenfest