I Can Tune a Fish
For about three weeks Leilee's favorite joke was:
"What is the difference between a guitar and a fish?"
"You can't tune a fish!"
Actually - that was her favorite punchline. She would ask any question as the first part of the joke and end it with, "You can't tune a fish!"
She thought she was hilarious.
Well I can't really tune a fish. But I can tuna fish. Like a pro.
Although, the truth is.... this is only my second year. Two years ago my sister gave me home-canned tuna for a birthday present. We scarfed it down like it was ocean candy. So freaking good.
The next year, I went to a canning party at her almost mother-in-law's house. She taught us how to can tuna, and I waltzed home with a hundred jars and self-proclaimed title of "Fish-Whisperer" because I had mastered the art of picking the tuna carcass clean. No joke. Hand me a fillet knife and a spoon.
This year, I mastered the art of not being afraid of the pressure cooker. I've water bathed for a decade. The pressure canner left me feeling all nervous. (*Note: I will use canner and cooker interchangeably throughout this post.) But you can't can a tuna without one. And we were down to nine jars. I can hoard like a champ, but it's hard to hoard nine jars of ocean candy with three growing kids.
So, this year. We bought 125 pounds of big-eyed tuna fish. No really. Their eyes are big.
Chooka, chooka, chowwwwwwww....
So, once you get over the eyes....
Then it's just getting used to the fish. Big and solid. And squishy on the inside. Just like its eyeballs.
Now, this year, just before I started to slice into the tuna, I became super nervous. I lost my whisper. I couldn't quite remember what to do. I panicked and started trying to find a blog post or video of how to can a tuna. Guess what? I couldn't find anything. Now maybe my Google skills just aren't what they should be, but I could only find Ball-approved, G-rated canning posts. With brand new jars and neatly sliced fillets that were probably purchased fresh from the seafood market.
I should have Googled 'filleting a tuna', but I was in a former fish-whisperer panic. I wasn't thinking clearly. I just kept staring at the perfect tuna fillets in these posts.
No scales, no eyeballs, not even a fin. That was so not what I needed.
Our tuna was bought from our buddy, and it looked like this.
It's nice to know they were caught one at a time and not netted on a giant ship with who knows what other kind of sea life. It's a good feeling to support local fishermen and not "the man". I'm blessed to live a half hour from some awesome ocean fishing. But it's not quite ready to be put in a jar.
Fins, eyeballs, guts.... you name it. It was there and needed to be separated from the meat.
So, I guess I will confess the rest of my canning issues secrets... I am not a clean, bleachy, sparkling, super sanitized canning woman. I'm more of a common-sense, pioneer, hippy canner. Things are clean enough to be safe, but I want to die when instructions call for "brand new" rings and jars. Seriously?
Here's my canning stash.
These are my new jars.
Can you say Goodwill? Salvation Army? Garage sales? Oh yeah.
Canning jars are canning jars. Not chipped? Good. Dead spiders in the bottom? They'll shake out.
And it's all the same level of clean after it's run through this baby.
Yes, I know that a university extension cannot stand behind that statement. Actually, probably any of these statements. In fact, any lady (or gent) who teaches canning classes and is reading this should click away, quickly. Cuz it's just going to get messier. And not even close to the way you all teach this stuff.
So, click away.
But, if you are reading this and interested in knowing how someone who doesn't follow the book cans her some ocean candy, then keep reading. But for heaven's sake, don't try and copy my techniques if you've never learned from anywhere else. Nothing I am putting out here should be taken completely seriously. Take it with a grain of salt (really, we add that), chuckle, and then click over to a legit canning site like Canning Homemade to learn the real stuff.