By canning your albacore catch, you can enjoy tuna year-round!
For the many anglers fishing off the Pacific coast this summer, it is common knowledge that the run of premium albacore tuna kicks its season off with Independence Day and comes to a close by October. Whether you fish for tuna off-coast or are able to buy it locally, albacore tuna generates a lot of buzz come fishing season, and for good reason.
Besides the pure pleasure of fishing for it, it’s a favorite of fish lovers. With its subtle, rich taste and pleasing texture, albacore tuna is known as the “white meat” of the tunas and lends itself well to fish recipes that call for a firm, flaky meat with a milder taste. For us lucky Oregonians, that translates into an albacore tuna melt—always on sourdough, and always with Tillamook cheddar.
By preserving your tuna, you can enjoy this healthy, delectable fish year-round. You can’t compare the taste of conventional canned tuna with tuna you’ve caught, processed and canned yourself.
Because tuna is a low-acidic food, it requires a pressure canner for preservation. The risks of improper canning cannot be overstated. Refer to the “Ball Blue Book of Canning” for further details. That being said, this recipe is fairly straightforward, inspired by Eugenia Bone’s iconic “Well-Preserved.”
Homemade Canned Albacore Tuna
- Makes 6 ½ pint jars
- 2-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless Albacore tuna loin, refrigerated until ready to use
- One tablespoon sea salt
- Olive oil
Transfer the clean jars, bands and lids to a clean towel and let air-dry.
Prepare your jars, bands, and lids. Either run them through the dishwasher on its hottest setting or sterilize them by boiling them for 30 seconds in a stockpot filled with water. With tongs, transfer the clean jars, bands and lids to a clean towel and let air-dry.
Wash tuna well, making sure that any connective or damaged tissue and blood is removed.
Cut tuna into batons about 2-1/2 inches by 3 inches. Carefully pack the chunks of tuna into the jars, adding tuna trimmings to fill any gaps. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon sea salt – we like Jacobsen Sea Salt – into each jar and pour in enough olive oil to cover the tuna, leaving 1-inch of headspace. The seal will not take if the oil reaches the bottom of the screw.
Run a paring knife or spatula around the inside of the packed jars to eliminate any air bubbles. With a damp paper towel, wipe the rims clean. If there is any debris, the seal will be compromised.
Seal the packed jars with the lids, ensuring that the lid is centered over the jar, and screw the bands on until just fingertip tight.
Heat the pressure canner over high heat and give the canner 10 minutes or so to let the steam release from the vent. Place the canning rack in the bottom of the pressure canner. Carefully lower the sealed jars onto the rack. Pour enough boiling water into the pressure canner to fill 3 inches or so. Put the canner cover on and align the handles so they lock into position as per the manufacturer instructions. Depending upon whether your pressure canner has a weighted or a dial gauge, remove the pressure regulator or dial gauge from the steam vent and set aside.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Cover the steam vent with the pressure regulator cap or dial gauge as appropriate. If it is a pressure gauge, watch the gauge, and when it reads 11 pounds, process the jars for 100 minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain the pressure at 11 pounds. Likewise, if it is a dial gauge, it will hiss and clamor wildly. Either way, the pressure needs to be consistent. If the pressure subsides to below 11 pounds, stop timing and increase the heat to bring the pressure back up to 11 pounds and resume timing for a total processing time of 100 minutes. The pressure should not exceed 15 pounds or so; if it does, adjust heat accordingly.
After jars are processed, turn off the heat and remove the canner from the heat. Let canner stand until the pressure has dropped to zero and it is cool enough to open, about 45 minutes or so. Remove the gauge and wait for two minutes before removing the lid to the canner. Mind the steam.
With a set of tongs, transfer the jars to a rack or towel and allow them to rest for 12 hours without disturbing. If you pay attention, you may hear little metallic pops and tings throughout the night. That is the mark of a good seal.
After twelve hours, check the seals: again, this is imperative. With your finger, press the center of the lid on each jar to test that the lid doesn’t pop up. Then, just to be sure, unscrew the bands and lift the jars. When the seal takes, you can lift the jars by the edges without the lid popping off. If the jar opens, it will need to be refrigerated and eaten within a day or two.
Store the canned tuna in a cool, dark place for three to six months. Refrigerate after opening.