For many years, I’ve been honing in my smoked salmon recipe and canned it once or twice, but smoking and canning Rainbow Trout was a new one for me. My buddy Jerome sent me some photos of the absolute haul of trout that his kiddos caught over Memorial Day weekend in Eastern Washington, and asked if he could use my pressure cooker to put them up. I always enjoy a little collaborating in the backyard kitchen! Jerome’s kiddos did the catching, he did the filleting and brining, and I was able to help a little with the smoking and canning. What do they say? It takes a village? Such a good time and well worth it!
Brining Rainbow Trout for Smoking
Jerome filleted all of his fish and put them up in a dry brine overnight. Not only did he have the fortune of catching such nice trout with beautiful fillets, but they were quickly cleaned, put on ice, and filleted within a day. Nice work buddy!
- 1 Cup White Sugar
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Salt
- A “whollop” of Garlic Powder” and a heavy dose of Black Pepper
In the morning he rinsed all the fillets, patted them dry with paper towels and let them air dry in the fridge. We met at my house that afternoon and put them in the smoker.
Smoking Rainbow Trout
We warmed up the smoker to 150 degrees and let them smoke for about 45 minutes. Our goal was to get a nice smoky flavor without fully cooking them, as the canning process will take care of that. In the past, I have made the mistake of trying to can fully smoked fish, and it turned out way too dry. But we learned from that mistake this time!
Canning Rainbow Trout in a Pressure Cooker
Using a pressure cooker is a process. It’s important to ensure the final product is cooked through and is preserved for a solid year or more shelf live and is safe from the risk of botulism. We used this guide from the National Center for Home Food Preservation for the time and pressure. For trout at 0-1000′ elevation they recommended 11 pounds of pressure for 100 minutes. Using an outdoor propane burner requires some tinkering, but we kept it between 11 pounds and 13 pounds for the entirety of the cooking time.
Steps for Canning Smoked Trout in a Pressure Cooker
Here is the process we used for our smoked and canned Rainbow Trout. You can use this as a loose guide but always rely on the safety measures lined out in the link above for safety!
- Sterilize jars in a hot soapy water bath
- Sterilize lids in a light boil for 10 minutes
- Place 1 inch of water in pressure cooker and heat up while jars and lids are being sterilized, remove from burner
- Rinse jars in hot water
- Fill jars with 1/4 inch olive oil
- Portion smoked trout and pack jars with 1 inch head space
- Wipe the rim of the jar rim with a clean paper towel to ensure a good seal
- Place the lid on the jar, and screw on the screw-band to finger tight, then back off a tad so that air can escape the jar as it heats
- Place all the jars in the warm/hot water in the pressure cooker. Ensure that you aren’t placing cold jars in boiling water or else you will get cracked jars! We stack our jars one on top of another if we have enough.
- Place pressure cooker back on the heat source and allow to slowly boil, we used a low flame on the propane burner.
- Secure lid on the pressure cooker, and wait for a constant funnel of steam to escape from the vent
- Once a steady steam vent gets going, place the weighted cap that comes with the cooker over the vent and it will create the seal
- Get the pressure up to the recommended pressure (for our recipe it was 11#) and watch it like a hawk for the duration of the cooking time
- Once the time has elapsed (for our recipe it was 100 minutes and we went 110 minutes just to be safe), turn off the heat source and use a towel to remove the weighted cap to release the pressure from the cooker.
- Once the pressure is down to 0#, carefully remove the pressure cooker lid and be super cautious with the steam! Remove the jars with a jar-grabber, placed a couple inches apart and let them cool.
- When the jars are cooling, the lids should “pop” and the small bubble on the top of the lid should push downward, signaling that the jar lid has properly sealed. If you leave them for an hour and you have an unsealed jar, put in the fridge and consumed within a day or so, as they are not fit for storage. You will notice that the lids will seal even though the screw top is still lose on the jar.
The entire process took overnight and a day, but putting up even a dozen jars to save for later is well worth the effort. Jerome absolutely crushed the brine recipe! This recipe was good enough to eat right out of the jar, or if you want to get fancy spread on a Ritz Cracker. So delicious!
I sampled a can of our smoked/canned Rainbow Trout and it turned out great! Perfect smoky flavor, perfect blend of salty and sweet.
Respecting the fish that we catch and preserving it responsibly is something I take very seriously. I am always a little nervous when I pressure cook anything, so I follow all the recommended steps exactly, and I cannot stress enough that I hope you use this recipe for motivation and encouragement, but please rely on the USDA Guidelines for the official word!