Sunday, October 18, 2009

Drying Fish at Sea

On Easy Go we have no motor and no electricity other than a small battery and solar panel to charge a computer. We often find it necessary to dry excess fish at sea while on passage as we have had tremendous success in catching more fish or larger fish than we are able to eat immediately.

Our drying process is simple and very efficient. Fillet the fish leaving the skin on each fillet. The fillets are cut into two inch strips from belly to back and then cross cut against the grain of the meat into 1/4 inch by 2 inch strips still all attached to the skin. When this process is completed rinse well with ocean water to remove any blood that remains and get the fish nice and clean.

The next step involves dissolving 1 cup of coarse pickling salt into each gallon of water required for brining. We find our deck bucket with one gallon of ocean water and the cup of salt dissolved to work very well. Put in all the strips of fish and let soak for a couple of hours.

After soaking is complete the fish will have become noticeably denser and easy to hang from lifelines. We tie the fish on by poking holes in the skin at one end and tying them on with some net twine.

Now wait a couple of days and then run you thumb between the fish flakes that are connected by the skin to ensure that all the flakes are separated and drying equally. After four or five days in normal dry weather and trade wind sailing the fish will be dry for storing. Break all the flakes off the skin and place in an onion bag and hang in a dry place in the galley where they can continue to air.

We have stored fish for three to four months with no spoilage in climates as varied and the Canaries, Caribbean Islands and the shores of Nova Scotia. Dorado and various types of tuna have been preserved successfully in this fashion.

To use the fish in a chowder or pie reconstitute in fresh water overnight, as would be done with beans and use them as you would fresh.

Bob and Kathy Groves
Aboard Easy Go - Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada

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