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Extension > Food > Food Safety > Preserving and Preparing > Meat and Fish > Pickled Fish

Meat and Fish

Pickled Fish

By Deb Botzek-Linn, Extension Educator — Food Safety

Reviewed 2012 by Suzanne Driessen, Extension Educator — Food Safety.

In Minnesota, we can enjoy pickled northern, sucker, trout, and salmon among others.

The first step in producing safe, home-pickled fish is to kill the larvae of the broad fish tapeworm, a parasite that can infect humans. It is most common in northern pike, but is found in several Minnesota fish.

There are two schools of thought on how to destroy the tapeworm. With the first, simmer fish in pickling brine to 140 F. This does not affect the flavor or the texture of pickled fish. Or, if you are pickling raw fish, freeze it at 0 F for 48 hours prior to brining. Either method kills the parasite.

When pickling fish, select only fresh, high-quality fish. Use 5% white vinegar; avoid hard water, as it causes off-color and flavors; and use canning or pickling salt along with fresh, whole spices.

Give this pickled fish recipe a try:

  1. Soak fish in a weak brine of 1 cup of pickling salt to 1 gallon water for one hour. Drain.
  2. Soak fish in a heavy brine of 2 ½ cups of salt to 1 gallon of water for 12 hours in the refrigerator. Use only glass, enamel or food-grade plastic container for brining.
  3. Rinse the fish in cold water. Cut into serving-size pieces.
  4. Combine the following ingredients in a large kettle: ¼ oz bay leaves, 2 T allspice, 2 T mustard seed, 1 T whole cloves, 1 T pepper, 1-2 T hot, ground dried pepper, ½ lb sliced onion, 2 qt distilled vinegar and 5 c water. This makes enough brine for 10 pounds of fish.
  5. Bring to a boil; add fish, and simmer for 10 minutes until fish is easily pierced with a fork. Do not overcook.
  6. Remove fish from liquid and place in single layer in shallow pan and refrigerate.
  7. Pack cold fish in clean glass jars. Add fresh onion slices, lemon and bay leaves if desired.
  8. Strain the vinegar solution, bring to a boil, and pour into jars to cover fish. Seal immediately.

Pickled fish must be stored in the refrigerator and used within 6 weeks.

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