The more I’m getting comfortable with using my pressure canner, the more I’m realizing what an incredible tool it is.
Anyone who grows, forages, raises, fishes or hunts their own food knows that Alaska’s great outdoors are essentially a grocery store, if you have the skills to responsibly harvest. There’s nothing more satisfying than eating a fresh meal that you had a significant hand in producing.
In Alaska, we’re surrounded by a bounty of delicious, natural foods. But since our seasons change so fast, a big part of learning how to start living off the land is knowing how to properly preserve seasonal harvests – including salmon.
The first few years I lived in Alaska, we relied solely on freezing our fresh caught salmon to keep it through the winter. But as I’m learning more about preserving meats through pressure canning, there are so many benefits to canning salmon instead of freezing it all.
Here are the 4 main reasons why I’m convinced that it’s important to keep a balance of frozen & canned salmon.
Reason #1 – It’s shelf stable (no ongoing energy consumption required).
When you have salmon in the freezer, not only does it take up freezer space, but it also requires a constant source of electricity to keep it frozen (energy = money). If you know how to properly process and can salmon in glass jars, those jars can be stored at room temperature, just wherever you have space in your pantry.
Reason #2 – It’s a ready-to-eat.
While grilling a salmon fillet on the grill is delicious, you need to remember to pull it out of the freezer ahead of time to thaw, then take the time to cook it. With canned salmon, there’s no thawing/cooking required because it’s already cooked and ready-to-go.
Home-canned meat can be great for camping trips, because you don’t need to be worried about keeping it on ice.
Reason #3 – No need to pick out bones = winning for health & convenience
If picking out the bones is the part you hate about cooking with salmon, pressure canning makes it so you’ll never have to remove bones again. No joke.
Through the extreme conditions of the pressure canning process, pressure canning actually disintegrates the salmon bones. You put salmon with bones into the glass jar, and through the magic of pressure canning, the bones essentially break down so you can still see them, but you can eat them without noticing them at all texture-wise.
And being able to eat the softened bones means you’re actually consuming that bone calcium instead of picking it out and throwing it away. That’s right – eating canned salmon with bones is great for your body because of the extra minerals you would otherwise miss if you had to de-bone the fillet.
Before we started canning salmon, it was a struggle deciding whether or not that salmon alfredo dinner was worth the hassle of thawing, cooking, and de-boning a fillet. Just for one meal, that’s a ton of prep work.
But if you have canned salmon on hand, when you want to whip up a salmon dish, it’s so easy to add a jar of cooked salmon to a seafood chowder, make a super easy smoked salmon dip, grill up delicious salmon melt sandwiches, and more.
You never have to think about the tedious task of removing tiny fish bones and whether or not it’s worth it – there are actually heath benefits to not removing the bones!
Reason #4 – Canned food stays good longer than frozen food.
Imagine a world where your meat could stay deliciously freezer-burn free forever.
One of the huge benefits of canning salmon is that it stays good for years and years (as long as it was properly processed in the canner). Even though it’s hard to beat the taste of a fresh Alaska salmon fillet on the grill, in the long run, your salmon stays better tasting for a longer period of time if you can it.
Once your catch is packed away in jars, you’ll never need to worry about freezer burn again.
Ready to can some salmon?
If you want to try canning your salmon harvest but aren’t sure how or where to get started, get some inspiration & pictures here: recipes & reviews on canning smoked salmon.