PUBLISHED: 3:39 PM on Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Extension offers home sealing clinic
Fish canning
The king salmon have arrived, according to the latest Alaska Department of Fish and Game Sport Fishing report. And, as I write this article, the Spring King Salmon Derby is well underway. These activities impact me directly. Not only because I find salmon fishing a great sport, but because it means home canning season is here. While most people don't home can king salmon as a preservation method, canning is an excellent method for preserving other varieties of fish.

Glass mason-type jars are recommended for preserving fish. Pint and half-pint jars are the sizes most commonly used, but quart jars can be used as well. Until recently, quart jars were not recommended for canning fish as processing times and pounds of pressure were not available. In 2004, Dr. Kristy Long, State Foods and Home Economics Specialist, released original research for processing times in the Canning Fish in Quart Jars publication.

While jars provide good storage for fish preservation, some individuals prefer canning in cans. These cans are lightweight making them perfect for taking along when camping, hiking, or boating. The cans and lids most commonly available in Alaska are the one-pound and half-pound sizes. Alaska salmon cans have an enamel lining that is appropriate for a low acid food, such as fish. Typically, Alaska salmon cans are available in Juneau early in the fishing season.

Processing low acid foods require use of a pressure canner. This is true whether glass jars or cans are used. The high temperatures reached under pressure are necessary to ensure a safe product. The extra piece of equipment needed for using cans in home food preservation is the manual home can sealer. A double seam attaches the can lid to the can body.

The seaming operation, which has two parts, is carried out by using a can sealer. This operation gives the can an airtight seal.

It's important that the seams are free from defects. An unacceptable or defective can seam could:

• prevent the seam from being airtight;

• cause loss of the canned food through spoilage;

• be a health hazard if the bacteria that causes botulism enters the can through the defective seam.

Seams that do not pass the visual inspection for defects cannot be corrected by running them through the sealer a second time. The can sealer problem must be corrected. When defects are discovered, it is essential to determine the cause of the defects and to correct the problem.

Correcting the can sealer problem can be a challenging task. There is help, however. Cooperative Extension Service UAF Statewide Foods and Nutrition Specialist, Dr. Bret Luick, is providing a home can sealer clinic in Juneau. Individuals are encouraged to bring their can sealers to Luick who will review the assembly process, evaluate the can seams and make adjustments to ensure the seams are free from defects.

The clinic is scheduled from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, June 1, at the Juneau District Extension office located in the Vintage Business Park, 3032 Vintage Blvd. Suite 104. Luick will work with small groups in one-hour sessions. There is no charge but reservations are required.

To reserve a one-hour time slot, contact Mary LeBon in Fairbanks 8 a.m.-noon at 474-6339 or send her e-mail to For more information on the clinic, contact Sonja at the Juneau office at 465-8756.

Dr. Koukel is the Juneau District Agent for the Home Economics Programs of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service