"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Canning Bluegills
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

Inch-for-inch and ounce-for-ounce, the bluegill and other members of the true sunfish family are said by some anglers to be the most exciting fish Hoosier waters have to offer . . . We will go them one better by adding "best eating, too." 

However, there are some waters where these frisky little denizens don't seem to get big enough to eat.

So what do you do when you are catching bluegills and other panfish that are too small to eat? Easy question, Coach!  You eat 'em! 

Oh! I know! If you try to filet them, there is nothing left to eat  But that is not the way you eat 'em. 

Keeping those little bluegills and eating them will do two important things for you. First, it will get those little critters out of your favorite pond and give the remaining fish more food which will, in turn, make them bigger. Secondly, if you eat 'em, with good crackers as snacks or in numerous other dishes, you will sate your appetite. 

But how you gonna eat those little critters with all of those bones? 

Another easy question, Coach. You simply scale them, leave the skin on, cut off the head (fins optional), remove the entrails, wash the body cavity good with cold, running water, and drain them. [See photo # 1 below.]

When the fish are well drained, you stuff them in pint canning jars (with canning tops), add salt (maybe some other seasonings like powdered mustard), but no water, and cook them in a pressure cooker for 90 minutes, 10 pounds of pressure. This will make even the spinal bones edible and crunchy, like canned salmon. [See photo # 2 below.]

Tighten the jar lids (hands only) when the cooking process is done and the jars are cool enough to handle. Store the jars in a cool, dark place. [See photo # 3 below.]

But, by all means, know how to use a pressure cooker safely before you do anything. Steam creates a powerful force and it can be dangerous. 

Canned bluegills will eat well on any crackers, or as a sandwich with mayonnaise and mustard on the bread of your choice. A fish loaf is right up their alley, but they also will give a fresh salad extra zip, and slide right into a fish a la king atmosphere. 

Canning bluegills is as easy as 1-2-3:

[Click on photo to see larger image.]

A Tip or Two: Use a teaspoon to scale your fish and perform this task close to cold, running water to clear the scales occasionally . . . This process will work with larger fish, like suckers, but may require a little more cooking time . . . Use just enough water in the pressure cooker to have a good supply of steam, but as little water as possible . . . a little vinegar in the cooker will help avoid stains to the cooker . . . Do not allow heads and entrails of fish to go down the sink drain. 


All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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