This year I'm going to skip the part where I attempt to describe the differences between a mass produced canned tuna and our locally canned tuna - I'm betting most of you have tried what I like to call 'the good stuff' by now and can appreciate the gigantic difference in quality, flavor and texture. It's *so* much better. It's also something of a hefty amount of work to can your own tuna, but I've always thought the effort is worth the immense feeling of satisfaction and triumph one gets when one steps back and views a row of freshly canned tuna jars. If you'd like to give it a whirl, here are the steps!
If you've got your system going already, don't bother to change it, but for anyone who's intimidated by the idea of canning tuna here is a little tutorial of sorts. You need a pressure cooker to use this method, so if you don't have one -ask around! We borrowed one for a couple of years before we actually got our own.
First, grab some jars, lids and bands from the store and get your hands on some fresh tuna. We use about 24, 8oz jars for a single fish - about a 15 pounder that cuts down to 7ish pounds. (You can get a 12 pack of 8oz jars at the Co-Op for $14.49 right now that include the lids and bands.)
Run the jars through a dishwasher cycle without soap. Put your lids and bands in a little sauce pan on the stove in some water and let them get simmer-hot.
In each jar, pour a teaspoon or two of good quality olive oil in the bottom. Slice your tuna into small steaks and fill each jar, leaving a good half inch of space at the top to prevent jar leakage in the pressure cooker. Add a sprinkle of salt on the top and any other seasonings if you prefer. (We like to use rosemary, hot peppers, dill or whole garlic cloves to add a little flavor to a jar or two.)
With a damp paper towel, wipe the rim of the jar clean and place a hot lid on the top. Screw on the band, but leave it a little loose.
Place your jars in the pressure cooker and get ready to get tunafishy! Note: if you do this in your house, the smell of tuna will linger for a few days... a couple of years ago Tony had the seriously bright idea to put our pressure cooker on the outdoor camping cooker with the propane tank and voila, we cook our jars outside and our home stays odor-free!
Follow the directions with your specific pressure cooker, but we add about an inch and a half of water in the bottom, secure the lid and cook at 10 pounds of pressure for 110 minutes.
The result is totally AMAZING canned tuna, the feeling of victory, and the delicious flavor of knowing exactly where your food is coming from. Yay!