How to Buy an Albacore Tuna From the Docks, What to Do With It, and a Trip to Newport, Oregon.

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On Wednesday, we took our nephew, Jake, and our daughters Lovana, Ja’Ana and Patsy down to Newport, Oregon.

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Rob did some surf fishing for perch, but did not catch any.

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The big girls huddled in blankets because it started out foggy.

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The younger kids dug for hours, tried to dam up the little river, and otherwise enjoyed the beach the way kids should.

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We then visited the Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center.  It was awesome, as usual, and we loved the new exhibits.

After that, we went down to the docks.  We looked for signs advertising tuna.  We found a couple of places that had tuna, one for salmon, black cod, and a couple for crab (Dungeness).   We parked and walked down to one that had tuna.

We asked when the fish was caught, and it was very fresh (caught the day before).  He said it had been cooled very quickly after being caught, which is important.  It was $3.45/lb, and you needed to buy the entire fish.  For an additional $4, he would filet it out.    He was very busy, which was a good sign to us, and the people before us bought over $300 worth of tuna (4 big ones), and around $75 worth of crab (4 medium-sized ones).  We were able to see how nice the fish looked, and get our questions answered by watching.  (The other 2 times we have canned tuna, we had our son-in-law get it for us, and it came frozen)  There were people behind us waiting, but by that time, we knew what we wanted.

We asked for a good sized fish  (1), and he gave us a choice from his huge icy bin of tuna.  Ours was a little over 20 lbs. and he quickly cut it into 4 large pieces with no bones.  He gave me the belly fat, too, as I needed it for the best canned tuna.  He gave Rob the carcass, as Rob wants to do some crabbing soon, and will use it for bait.  We put the fish and carcass into a cooler with ice in it.  If you don’t go prepared, your fish will lose quality quickly, and maybe even rot before you get home.  If you buy it on a whim, you need to plan on purchasing an inexpensive cooler and some ice.  The young man had plastic bags for the fish pieces to ride home in.  We popped them right into the cooler, and then kept the fish well-iced all night as we returned home too late to process it that night.

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There was not much waste at all.  The young man was clearly an expert.  Later, at home, Rob cut it into pieces that would fit into the crab trap bait box and froze it.

The next day, I cut pieces that would fit into my 1/2 pint jars that I keep for this purpose.  They are shaped similar to a tuna can you would buy, but are canning jars.  I added a piece of belly fat to each jar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I did do a couple of wide-mouthed pints, too. Then, I put lids and rings on, and carried them out to the pressure cooker on our outdoor porch.  I was able to get 3 layers, separated by racks, in my extra-tall cooker.  It’s designed for layering.  I can get 2 layers of pints in, but these jars are so short I can get more in.  I put about 2 quarts of water in the bottom, fastened the lid on, and brought it up to 11 lbs. of pressure.  It had to stay there for 100 minutes.  Yes, an hour and 40 minutes!

At our house, someone always watches the pressure cooker canner, and we both wanted the job.  Rob had been organizing and cleaning in his shop all day and I’d been canning, and we both had been watching Jake–taking turns.  We were tired.  Rob got the job this time, and I did some other things I needed to do.

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After they were finished, we let the canner sit for about an hour to let the pressure completely go down.  They came out beautifully, and all sealed.  What a rewarding process.

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In case you want to do the math, this kind of tuna is not cheaper than the kind from the store.  We got 2 pints and 22–1/2 pints.  So, it’s around $3/jar.  There is more tuna in there than you get from the little cans at the store and the quality is amazing!  It comes out in a large piece/ or pieces– if I filled in cracks on the sides with pieces once I dropped the large piece of loin in the jar, and is full of the Omega Fatty acids that are so desired, since I put that little piece of belly fat in each jar.  There is no comparison to the store-bought tuna at all.

I use this tuna for sandwich filling, patty melts and could make fish cakes if I wanted to.  I mix in my home-make sweet pickles or relish and some mayo and go from there.  That’s our favorite way to eat tuna.  Our oldest daughter got us started doing this a few years ago.  This is the 3rd time we’ve canned our own tuna, and we are very pleased with the results.  The people in front of us were going to freeze it– that’s what they always do.  The lady 2 people behind us only wanted a carcass.  She wanted to make soup and go crabbing.  I believe that young man gave it to her for free.

 

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