Thursday, June 01, 2006

Advice on drying or smoking your catch

I just came across this helpful article on do-it-yourself techniques for preserving fish by drying or smoking them. If you're ever roughing it out in the wilds and find yourself with a stringer full of fish without a refrigerator or freezer handy, these tips may come in handy. Just be sure the local bears or raccoons don't get wind of your catch while you're preserving it!

(The article was originally published by the Voice of America, aka the US Government...I knew my taxes were paying for something.)

"Most of the time, fishermen catch more fish than they need for their immediate use. The extra fish do not have to be thrown away. The fish can be prepared so they can be eaten at a later time. Fish can be dried or smoked. First, however, the fish must be cleaned and salted.

Begin with fish that are just out of the water. They must be treated immediately after they are caught. If the fish are small, do not remove their heads. If the fish are bigger than twenty centimeters long or weigh more than one hundred fifteen grams, then remove their heads.

Remove the scales on the outside of the fish. Cut the stomach open. Remove everything inside. Wash the fish in clean water. Then rub salt into the fish. Now, you are ready to treat them for future use.

Put the fish in a mixture of three hundred grams of salt and one liter of water. This will remove all of the blood from the fish meat.

Keep them there for about thirty minutes. Then remove all the fish and wash them in clean water. Now, put them in a mixture that has more salt in the water. The mixture should be strong enough so that the fish float to the top. If the fish sink to the bottom, add more salt to the water in the container.

Cover the container with a clean piece of wood. Hold the wood down with a heavy stone. Leave the fish there for about six hours. Then, remove them from the salt water and lay them on a clean place. Cover them with a clean piece of white cloth. Let them dry.

Another method of salting fish is called dry salting. Wooden boxes or baskets are used for dry salting.

After cleaning the fish, put a few of them on the bottom of the box or basket. Cover them with salt. Put more fish on top. Cover them with salt too. Continue putting fish and salt in the container until it is full.

Do not use too much salt when using the dry salt method. You should use one part salt to three parts fish. For example, if you have three kilograms of fish, you should use one kilogram of salt.

Remove the fish after a week or ten days. Wash them in a mixture of water and a small amount of salt. Let them dry.

With all this talk about salt, remember that doctors advise people to limit the sodium in their diet. It can raise blood pressure, and some people have a greater reaction than others.

To dry fish, you will need either a drying table or a place to hang them. If a table is used, it should have a top made of wire screen or thin pieces of wood with a space between each piece.

Lay the cleaned, wet salted fish on top of the table. Do not let them touch each other. Be sure the air can reach the fish from all sides, including the top and bottom.

Build a small smoky fire under the drying table for the first day to keep the flies away. After that, you can keep the flies away by covering the fish with a thin cloth. Do not let the cloth touch the fish.

Fish taste better if they dry out of the bright sunlight. Put your drying table under a tree for best results. Turn your fish over every other day. Small fish will dry in about three days if the air is dry. Large fish will take a week or ten days to dry.

After the fish have dried, place them in a basket to hold them. Cover them with clean paper or large leaves. Then put them in a cool, dry place, not on the ground.

To smoke the fish, you must first remove as much of the saltwater as possible. The smoking can be done in a large round metal container. Remove the top. Cut a small opening on one side at the bottom.

Cover the top of the container with a strong metal wire screen. This is where you put the fish. Build a small fire in the container by reaching in through the opening at the bottom.

Wood from fruit trees makes good fuel for your fire. Such wood will give your smoked fish good color and taste. Hardwoods such as hickory, oak and ash also burn well.

It is important to keep the fire small so it does not burn the fish. You want a lot of smoke, but very little flame. One way to get a lot of smoke is to use green wood, not dried wood.

You should smoke the fish for five days or longer if you plan to keep them for a long time. Remove the fish after you finish smoking them. Let them cool. Then wrap them in clean paper.

Put the fish in baskets and keep them in a cool, dry place off the ground. Dried fish must be kept completely dry until they are eaten."


VOA News Service
Author: Bob Bowen


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