PICKLING FISH, How to Pickle Fish
Pickling is an easy method of preserving fish. Pickled fish must be stored in the refrigerator at no higher than 40 F (refrigerator temperature), and for best flavor must be used within four to six weeks. Only a few species of fish are preserved commercially by pickling, but almost any type of fish may be pickled at home. Refrigerate the fish during all stages of the pickling process.
Ingredients for Pickled Fish
Fish Use only fresh, high quality fish.
Water Avoid hard water, as it causes off color and flavors.
Vinegar Use distilled, white vinegar with an acetic acid content of at least 4 percent (40 grains means the same thing). This percentage of acetic acid is needed to stop bacterial growth.
Salt Use high grade, pure canning or pickling salt. It does not contain calcium or magnesium compounds which may cause off color and flavors in pickled fish.
Spices Best results are obtained when fresh, whole spices are used.
General Method for Precooked Pickled Fish
Soak fish in a weak brine (1 cup salt to 1 gallon of water) for one hour.
Drain the fish, pack in heavy glass, crock, enamel, or plastic container in a strong brine (2- cups salt to 1 gallon of water) for 12 hours at refrigerator temperatures (40 to 45 F).
Rinse the fish in cold water.
Combine the following ingredients in a large pan or kettle. This makes enough for 10 pounds of fish.
1/4 oz bay leaves
2 T allspice
2 T mustard seed
1 T whole cloves
1 T pepper, ground
1-2 T hot, ground dried pepper
1 lb onions, sliced
2 qt distilled vinegar
5 c water (avoid hard water of high mineral content)
Bring to a boil, add fish, and simmer for 10 minutes until fish is easily pierced with a fork.
Remove fish from liquid, place on a single layer on a flat pan. Refrigerate and cool quickly to prevent spoilage.
Pack cold fish in clean glass jars, adding a few whole spices, a bay leaf, freshly sliced onions, and a slice of lemon.
Strain the vinegar solution, bring to a boil, and pour into jars until fish is covered.
Seal the jar immediately with two-part sealing lid, following the manufacturers instructions. Pickled fish must be stored in the refrigerator as stated in general directions.
Caution: The Broad Fish Tapeworm
The broad fish tapeworm infection can be contracted by humans from eating raw or undercooked species of fish found in the Great Lakes area.
The larvae of the broad fish tapeworm pass through smaller fish until they lodge as hatched small worms in the flesh of large carnivorous species of fish, like northern pike, walleye pike, sand pike, burbot, and yellow perch. This worm, if eaten by humans in its infective stage, can attach to the small intestine and grow to lengths of 10 to 30 feet.
The infective worms are destroyed readily either by cooking or freezing. Two recent outbreaks of this tapeworm in the Midwest were related to eating uncooked pickled pike. Those who wish to prepare raw pickled fish should first freeze the fish at 0? F for 48 hours.