Canning Salmon

Picture yourself spending days out fishing on the ocean, and you are catching salmons in tons, and now you are looking up wondering what you can do with all these! Freezing them is an option, but canning salmon is always a better option.

When you know the way to can salmon, you will be able to enjoy it for many days, weeks or even months. Read this post and know how to can salmon and be an expert at it.

This post will serve as a step-by-step guide for canning salmon, which not only just tell you the process of canning salmon but also give you a better understanding of the entire process and significance.

Let us begin with the first step – what to do right after you catch salmon and have a perfect canning salmon.

The basics

Once you have caught the fished (and killed too), you should start removing or cutting out the gills. It will allow the fish’s blood to drain out completely. The idea is to clean the fish as soon as you catch them.

You should also remember to keep the fish cold because if you are not careful enough and the fish gets warm, it will get discolored. Therefore, carry something with ice or cold water where you can put them and keep them cold for a longer time.

The advantage of carrying or having cold water around is that you can use the water to rinse them completely and get rid of large external debris. Now that you have rinsed it completely and sure that it is clean place the fish on a counter.

Hold its tail with your non-dominant hand and cut a shallow or deep incision with a sharp fillet knife. Make sure that you cut the fish from its anus to the bottom lip of the fish. Remove every organ from its stomach cavity gently.

You should be careful to make sure that you do not rupture the rectum or intestines. The intestines and rectum of the fish can contain green waste, which can spread quickly and can affect the salmon’s meat and later canning salmon badly.

Use the sharp fillet knife’s tip to cut and open the thin membrane covering the spinal fluid. Once you are done with these steps, you should rinse out the stomach cavities and spine thoroughly and carefully with cold water.

Now that the salmon is clean and clear, you will have to begin the process of cutting it. This step is crucial for canning salmon.

Start by cutting two deep slits on both sides of the fish, one in front of the tail and the other just behind the gills. Cut the fillets off both sides. You can use your non-dominant hand to hold the fish’s tail and run your sharp fillet knife from its tail to the gill.

Be careful and keep the fillet knife pressed lightly against its spine and try removing most of the meat. Cut the fillets in half, rinse them thoroughly, and dry the scale side downwards with a paper towel. You will have to follow these steps after cutting to make sure that there is no slime left on it.

Now you can place the fillet halves and discard the fish carcass. You have your salmon clean, washed, and in pieces ready for canning salmon. It’s time for brining and smoking before we move to the main part that will tell you how to can salmon.

canning salmon

Brining the salmon

You need three main things for brining, and they are salt, sugar, and water. These are very important for the process of canning salmon. Here’s how to do it –

Step 1: Take two-quarters of cold water, add a sufficient amount of salt that will make it float with uncooked egg and mix them thoroughly.

Step 2: Take 2 cups of brown sugar, mix them, and mix again thoroughly.

Step 3: Add the fish now and let the fish stay in your fridge for 12-13 hours.

Smoking the salmon

Before canning salmon perfectly make sure that the fishes are smoked properly. After keeping the salmon fish in the brine for 12 hours, you should remove the brine first and then rinse it thoroughly. Set the rinsed fillets on a clean smoker rack.

Make sure that you place them scales down and leave about one inch between the fillets to help the smoke rise.

Use paper towels to pat the fillets and keep them for 30 minutes in a clean, dry, and cold place. After 30 minutes load the fillets into the smoker again, you should start with its top rack. Take the wood chip pan and put wood chips in it.

After almost 3 hours, you should check the wood chip pan, and even if you see the chips are exhausted, do not remove the front cover entirely. Instead, just discard the chips and refill with a new wood chip pan.

Wait for another two and a half hours and then unplug the smoker.

Now that the basic steps are done, you can start with the most important part, and that is canning salmon.

Canning salmon

Before we dive deep into the process of canning salmon and tell you the ways to can salmon effectively, you have to keep two things handy – mason jars with lids and a pressure cooker.

Be careful that you do not end up canning salmon in a way that can ruin the meat with dirt or anything present in that jar. Therefore, the first and foremost step of salmon canning is to wash and rinse the mason jars thoroughly.

Wash the lids and rings carefully as well and then set them somewhere where they can completely dry out. Usually, it takes about just one mason jar for every two fillet halves, but you should have extra jars just in case you run out of space.

Remove the tray that is at the lowest level and take the salmon from it and set it on the counter. You can remove the skin, as much as possible, from each fillet and then start the process of canning salmon.

Do not try to stuff the fish with force; instead, it should be lightly stuffed into the jars. Make sure that you keep at least one inch of space empty between the jar’s top lid and the salmon’s highest point in the jar.

After you have stuffed the fish lightly in the jar, place the seal lid and ring and tighten each ring lightly. It is always a good idea to leave some space for the air to heat out while starting the process of canning salmon and if the rings are tight then the heat will not be able to escape during the pressure cooking.

Now you can put the jars into the pressure cooker, and if the pressure cooker is large enough, you can stack many jars. Make sure that you place a rack and make sure that the jars are not sitting on the pressure cooker’s bottom directly.

Be careful with the pressure cooking and refer to its manual for the amount of vinegar and water that you should add. To make sure that there is no debris; you can use a paper towel and run it along the jar’s top rim.

You can now place the lid on the pressure cooker, close the latch, and ensure that the heat escape vent is uncovered or open. Put the pressure cooker on the stove and set the heat at maximum temperature.

As soon as the water starts boiling, a gush of steam will emit out from its heat vent. As soon as the steam is emitted cover the heat vent. Gradually the pressure will start to build up, and when it reaches its peak, the pressure stop will pop up after some time of ratting.

You will see the pressure building slowly on the pressure gauge, and once it achieves 11 psi, you should turn down the heat setting. You should be careful and ensure that the pressure doesn’t exceed 11 psi. Setting a timer for 100 minutes can help, but you should keep adjusting the heat and keep it at 11 psi or less.

When you see the timer’s up, turn the stove off, and shift the pressure cooker to a surface that is not heated. The pressure will start decreasing slowly. After half an hour or less, the pressure will be fully emitted.

Carefully remove the lid from the canner, ensuring that you don’t let the steam hit you on your face or arms. The jars will be extremely hot, and you should use a folded towel or gloves.

Remove the jars one by one slowly and put them on a heat-resistant surface. In some cases, the jars break in extreme heat so you should be careful removing them and can use a tool to take them out.

Leave the jars for a few hours so that they can cool down completely. As the jars are cooled, you will notice that the lids are compressed and sealed.

If any of the jars is not cooled and sealed, do not put them in storage. The sealed canned salmon jars generally stay safe for two years or more. Store these canned salmons in a dry and cool place.

These steps will make you an expert on how to can salmon perfectly!


Remember if you follow the process of canning salmon perfectly, your salmons will last longer. You can relish them for days, months, and even years.

Now that you know how to can salmon, it’s time that you try on your own!

Be sure to check out our guide on canning carrots too!

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