Circular 151 Jull 1956
Florida A.riculiural E\ltnioun Ser\ ice
Canning and Freezing
Canning and Freezing
Oysters, Crab, Shrimp and Fish
By LENA E. STURGES
Assistant Food Conservation Economist
Florida waters, whether fresh or salt, are most varied in the
abundant supply of fish for human food. River, streams, lakes,
the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico furnish mullet,
mackerel, red snapper, grouper, bream and bass, to name only a
few varieties. In addition, there are the shell-fish and crusta-
ceans-shrimp and scallops, coquina, crabs, crayfish or craw-
fish, turtles and terrapins.
Fish are an important source of proteins, elements required to
build and repair worn out body tissues. Calcium and phosphorus
(necessary for development of bones and teeth) are found in
fish. So is iodine. (Fish generally contain 50 to 200 times as
much iodine as any other food.) Fish furnish a negligible supply
of iron and copper. Oysters and shrimp are seafoods best known
as sources for these elements.
Fish is a very perishable product. Take care to keep them in
good condition until used fresh or conserved for future use. All
fish, due to their tender, delicate structure, are damaged easily
if roughly handled. Avoid bruising the flesh in any way or
exposing the fish to sun and wind, as spoilage begins early and
progresses rapidly. It is of primary importance that all fish,
including shellfish, be handled with great care.
Fish freeze well if they are cleaned quickly, kept cold and
frozen quickly. Freeze only absolutely fresh fish of the highest
quality, and cleanliness is a most important factor. Place fish
on ice or in a refrigerator as soon as possible after catching;
never allow fish to become warm.
Rinse non-fatty fish in salt water (about 1 cup salt to one gallon
water) to preserve color and texture and prevent drip or leakage.
Fatty fish may be dipped from 10 to 20 seconds in a solution
made by mixing one teaspoon or 150 mg. pure ascorbic acid to
1 gallon water. This solution prevents the development of
Bleed the fish well as soon as caught. Kill them with a knife
and let the blood run out. Bleeding is done by sticking the fish
in the back of the head. Clean and scale immediately. Fish
may be scaled more easily if dipped quickly into boiling water.
Wash, remove entrails and remove backbone from larger fish.
All blood may be drawn out of fish by soaking in a brine
made with 2 teaspoons salt to 1 quart of water from 10 minutes
to 1 hour. A stronger brine will make fish firmer and harder.
Glazing is a method highly recommended to prevent fish from
drying out in the freezing process. Loosely wrap or freeze
unwrapped the amount of fish to be wrapped in one package.
As soon as frozen, dip the fish quickly in ice cold water and
return to the freezer. Repeat this process three or four times.
A thin coating of ice will result from each dipping. Handle
carefully to avoid breaking the glaze. Small pieces of wrapper
paper between fish will aid in quicker thawing when removing
from the freezer. Wrap in freezer paper and store at zero
Use only packaging materials made specifically for freezing.
These materials include cellophane, aluminum foil, polyethylene
and laminated papers. When using these papers use the drug-
store type of wrap, as it will give more protection to the fish.
To do this: place fish or fillet in center of paper, bring up the
two longer sides over the product, fold down tight, fold the ends
over, pull tight and seal. If packaging several fish or fillets to-
gether, it is advisable to put a layer of cellophane between them
to make separation easier as the fish are being thawed.
Rigid containers made of glass, aluminum, waxed fibers and
plastic are best for the packaging of shellfish.
Store fatty fish for three months or less at 0 F. or below.
Store lean fish for six months or less at 0 F. or below.
Follow procedure listed for cleaning and preparing fish. Dip
fatty fish in ascorbic acid mixture.
Wrap fillets or steaks in moisture-vapor-proof paper, with
pieces of freezer paper or cellophane between slices to prevent
freezing together. Press out air, seal, label and freeze at 0 F.
Wrap whole fish in moisture-vapor-proof paper or put in plas-
tic bag, seal air-tight, label and freeze at 0 F. or below.
Use only live crabs. Crab meat makes an excellent product
for freezing if taken directly from the water and frozen at once.
Steam 15-20 minutes, as steam cooking preserves the color and
After cooking, cool the crabs for easier handling and pick the
meat while warm from the body and legs. Keep the leg and
body meats separate.
Pack leg and body meat separately. Package in glass jars
or waxed cartons. If using a dry pack, be sure meat is tightly
packed to prevent formation of large ice crystals which would
cause the meat to toughen. If storage period is more than four
months, cover with a 2 percent brine (3 level tablespoons salt per
gallon of water).
Oysters may be frozen if handled and frozen quickly. Use only
live oysters, selected for quality.
With a strong spray, wash to remove all shell fragments, mud,
and foreign material from outside the shell.
Shuck or open in the usual manner, being careful to remove
the whole oyster. Collect meat in a strainer or collander and let
drain. The drained liquor may be used in packaging.
Wash thoroughly and quickly in a salt solution (4 tablespoons
salt per gallon of water). Stir gently in the washing process to
remove all sand and dirt. Oysters should not remain in the
brine longer than 3 or 4 minutes.
Drain and package immediately in moisture-vapor-proof con-
tainers. Freeze as quickly as possible at 00 F. or below. Store
not longer than six months.
In handling osyters, avoid the use of brass, iron or copper
Shrimp may be frozen cooked or raw. Raw shrimp makes
a better product, as the cooked shrimp often becomes tough in
the freezing process.
Raw.-Remove the head and vein as for cooking. Wash in
brine (1 teaspoon salt to 1 quart water). Drain and package
in moisture-vapor-proof containers.
Cooked.-Wash in salty water and cook in 5 to 10 percent
brine (2/% to 11/3 cup salt to 1 gallon water) for 10 minutes. Shell
and remove vein, rinse, drain and package, as raw shrimp.
Thoroughly wash roe, place in moisture-vapor-proof container
or wrap in freezer paper. Freeze at once.
Cooking Frozen Fish.-Fish may be thawed completely before
cooking, or may be cooked before thawing with additional time
added for cooking. Fish to be fried will probably be more satis-
factory if thawed before cooking. Thaw fish slowly in the pack-
age. Do not refreeze fish after thawed, for it spoils rapidly.
Under no condition should fish be considered for canning un-
less absolutely fresh and in good condition. Canning should be
restricted to known edible varieties which will give a product of
high nutritious quality.
All fish, due to their tender, delicate structure, are damaged
easily if roughly handled. Avoid bruising or exposure to wind
or sun, as spoilage begins early and progresses rapidly. Can as
soon as possible after catching.
Preparation for Canning.-Fish should be thoroughly bled as
soon as caught. Immediate bleeding delays spoilage and im-
proves the flavor and color. In order to draw out all of the
blood before canning, fish may be soaked in a brine made of 1
cup salt to 1 gallon water for 10 minutes to 1 hour, according
to the thickness of the fish.
The backbone may be left in smaller fish, but should be re-
moved from the larger fish in order to make packing in the con-
tainer easier. Cut the fish into lengths to fit the can or jar.
Wide-mouth jars or No. 2 tin cans are best for canning fish.
Plain tin cans are recommended for most fish, although "C"
enamel is suggested for clams, coquina, shrimp, scallops and
oysters. Since tin cans may be cooled rapidly after processing,
the fish products are not as likely to be over-cooked as they
might be in glass jars, which must be cooled more slowly.
Canning Fish-Plain.-For mullet, bass, shad and other fish.
1. Cut into pieces the length of the container and soak in
brine (1 cup salt to 1 gallon water) for one hour. This tends
to make the fish more firm.
2. Drain and pack tightly in hot containers, alternating
the heads and tails, with the skin side next to the glass.
3. Submerge open container in a kettle of hot brine (/.
cup salt per gallon water).
4. Boil 15 minutes. Remove containers, invert and drain
5 minutes. Discard the liquid.
5. Seal and process pint jars for 65 minutes at 10 pounds
Fried Fish.-Pre-cooked fish of any kind should be no more
than half done when packed into containers for canning. Pre-
pare fish as outlined on page 3. Wipe dry and cut into size to fit
containers. Dip in corn meal and fry in deep fat. Drain
thoroughly and pack dry meat into containers while still hot.
Exhaust 5 minutes. Seal and process, pint jars and No. 2
cans for 65 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. Cool at once.
Canning Smoked Fish.-
1. Smoke fish.
2. Can the fish immediately after smoking.
3. Pack carefully in tin or glass jars. Seal.
4. Process for 60 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (2400 F.).
1. Shrimp should have the heads removed as soon as taken
from the water, and the black streak or "sand vein" removed.
2. Pack in crushed ice, which will cut down on the danger of
spoilage and make the shells easier to remove.
3. Peel shrimp and wash meat in fresh water.
4. Plunge shrimp into boiling brine made of 1 cup salt to
a gallon of water. Boil 4 to 6 minutes. Remove and drain.
5. Pack shrimp into "C" enamel cans or pint jars and fill
with brine (1 tablespoon salt to 1 quart boiling water). Seal.
6. Process at 10 pounds pressure (2400 F.)-
Half-pint jars ................... ..... 15 minutes.
Pint jars or No. 2 cans -.......... --- 20 minutes.
7. Cool at once.
1. Discard all broken or discolored pieces. Plunge the shell
into boiling water to make shucking easier.
2. Remove the meat, discarding all oysters having an off-
3. Rinse in clear cold water.
4. Pack into glass jars or "C" enamel cans and cover with
a brine made from 1 tablespoon salt to a quart of boiling water.
5. Exhaust 10 minutes. Seal.
6. Process at 10 pounds pressure (2400 F.)-No. 2 cans 42
minutes; pint jars 50 minutes.
7. Cool quickly.
Fish Roe.-The food value of this delicacy is high, particularly
from the standpoint of protein. It is especially rich in iodine.
The roe of channel bass, mullet, shad, and certain other fish is
excellent. The roe of some fish is unsuitable for canning.
1. Wash and clean roe thoroughly, taking care not to break
the membranous skin.
2. Soak from two to three hours in a brine made of 1 cup
of salt to a gallon of water. Drain.
3. Simmer gently in a weak brine made of 1 tablespoon
salt to 1 quart water for 5 minutes.
4. Pack hot, cover with fresh boiling brine. Seal.
5. Process at 10 pounds pressure (2400 F.)-No. 2 cans 60
minutes; pint jars 70 minutes.
1. Use the backbone from large fish and the flesh that ad-
heres to it, and other usable fish scraps for making a nourish-
2. Barely cover with cold water and cook until the meat can
easily be separated from the bones.
3. Remove the bones from the stock. Drain the stock from
the boned fish.
4. For each pound of fish, add 4 medium onions and 4
stalks of celery, cut fine; 1/3 teaspoon white pepper and 2 tea-
5. Add stock and simmer until concentrated.
6. Pack boiling hot into heated pint jars or No. 2 cans,
leaving 14 inch headspace.
7. Process at 10 pounds pressure (2400 F.) for 45 minutes.
Cool. When serving add 2 cups milk to No. 2 can and heat.
Conservation Bul. 28, Home Canning of Fishery Products, U. S. Depart-
ment of the Interior.
Florida Agr. Extension Service Bul. 147, Canning, Salting, Smoking, Cook-
ing Florida Fish.
Oregon State College Extension Bul. 732, Freezing Meat, Poultry, Fish,
Seafoods, and Game.
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida,
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. O. Watkins, Director