Living on the West Coast of British Columbia has its benefits. One of my favourites stems from the over abundance of wild food.  Every year, I am fortunate enough to have too much salmon in my freezer at this time of year.

January, February and March are the months I choose to do most of my canning because it is the “slowest” time of year for me.  Since I work in construction, in the winter, I usually only work 30 to 40 hours/week.  Which gives me time to process all the food I stashed in the freezers over the spring, summer and fall.

Some foods need to be processed on the day or within a couple days of harvest like cucumbers, zucchini, garlic scapes, beets, tomatoes, beans, cauliflower…. But many fruits, berries and meats can be frozen before being jammed, jellied, pickled, canned or dehydrated. So that is what I have been doing with salmon in the last few years.

This week was spent waiting for salmon to thaw and canning them in batches. I have a big pressure canner that can fit 24- 250mL jars in 3 layers of 8 jars each. This may seem like a lot of fish but it only equals 3 medium sized fish per pressure canner full.  I had to load the canner twice for the 6 salmon I took out of the freezer this week.

I use the recipe from Bernardin for canning salmon as it s the most up to date and easy to follow. I, personally, have never added salt to my jars, but sometimes, I add herbs and or lemon juice for variety. Because salmon is so oily on its own, there is no need to add any liquid or water to jars before processing them in the pressure canner.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CAN SALMON OR ANY OTHER MEATS IN A WATER BATH, their acidity levels are too low and getting the meat to temperature can only be guaranteed by following a recipe. Head space, freshness of the meat, a good pressure canner, clean jar rims, new sealing lids and following the prescribed processing time at correct pressure are all very important to insure safe and nutritious canned food.

Here is the recipe I follow:

Here are some pictures of the process:


1-The salmon for batch #2


2-wiping rims


This year, my salmon came straight off the boat from Wild Harvest of Cortes Island. Their canned smoked salmon is to die for….


4-3 layers


3-stacking jars in the pressure canner


I’d like to thank Jack and Charene for sharpening my knives and making my canning experience much more enjoyable. 🙂


5-cleaning jars after the canner


6-after canning cleaning


The first time I ever canned salmon, I was with my aunt Paula. She and I counted the processing time by playing backgammon. Because a game of backgammon is approximately 30 minutes, we played 3 games and then checked the time. It was a great introduction to being patient.

These days, I do dishes, make dinner and write a blog while I wait for the timer to let me know that the salmon has cooked long enough and that the pressure canner is ready start resting. I am really looking forward to opening the canner tomorrow to see all the sealed jars. Wiping the jars and getting them ready for the pantry is a ritual that gives me a great sense of satisfaction.