Canning seafood: How to prepare and process safely

PNW 194 brochure cover
Last Updated: 
December 14, 2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Canning is a popular method to preserve seafood and, with proper processing, home-canned seafood can be both high in quality and safe to eat.

A revised publication from Oregon State University Extension shows how to prepare and process seafood using pressure canner temperatures that will destroy the bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

"New to the publication are instructions on how to check home-canned seafood for spoilage and under processing and how to detoxify the seafood," said Carolyn Raab, OSU food and nutrition specialist.

"Food not canned to specifications can be spoiled by an invisible toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria," she said. "But you can make the seafood safe if you boil it for10 minutes or heat it in the oven using directions given in the publication," she said.

The publication is full of tips that make canning safe. It explains how to begin with fresh seafood, use a pressure canner that's in good condition, process for the correct time and temperature and end with a good seal.

Specific information is about recommended pressures to use with pressure canners for elevations from sea level too 8,000 feet and processing times for seafood in half-pint and pint jars. Individual preparation and processing directions are given for tuna, whole clams, minced clams, crab, oyster and shrimp.

The publication also gives answers to questions frequently asked, such as, "Is it safe to process seafood in a boiling water canner?" (No. It is not safe.) "Is it safe to leave salt out of canned seafood? (Yes. Add an amount suitable to your taste.) "Can previously frozen fish be canned? (Yes. Frozen fish can be canned. Thaw to refrigerator temperature first.)

The four-page "Canning Seafood" publication is available without charge online or call 1-800-561-6719 to order a folded brochure (same information) for $1.50 plus $3 shipping and handling.

You can search the OSU Extension catalog for more items on gardening and food preservation, including publications, books, videos and other educational media.

Author: Judy Scott
Source: Carolyn Raab