Canning Tuna Methods From Fisherman’s Belly

I made Dave promise to include me next time he was canning tuna at home. Who’s Dave? He’s the tuna King canner, plus he’s one of my oldest fishing buddies. Plus he’s making quite a name for himself catching cows. Tuna cows that is, the over 200-pound kind. Dave goes on long range tuna trips twice a year and always comes home with the goods. And, when it comes to canning tuna a home, Dave has got it down to a science. Actually, he has a degree in Food Science. Funny how things work out…

So just a week after coming home from a 16-day trip to the Hurricane Bank, Dave invited me over since it was time to can some tuna. I joined him on the trip to the fish processor in San Diego and then followed him home to join in on canning tuna at home.

Here are some of my notes for canning tuna that I learned from Dave. These notes plus watching the video, should give you the confidence to can some tuna at home as well. As a last note, I plan on canning my own tuna plus my garden heirloom tomatoes.

canning tunaNotes For Canning Tuna At Home

  • Dave starts with clean jars, and lid rings (these can be used more than once). However, according to Dave, new lids must be purchased since their rubber seals, once compressed, can’t be reused.
  • Dave placed a quarter cut fresh habeneros at the bottom of his glass jars. He also mentioned that people place all kinds of goodies in their jars to flavor their tuna, like, garlic cloves or even jalapenos.
  • Next, Dave started cutting small pieces of tuna and stuffed them inside the jars, while filling up the jars 7/8’s full. Now Dave added extra virgin olive oil on top of the tuna, and then while using a butter knife moving the pieces of tuna around to allow the olive to infiltrate all the air pockets inside the jars. He poured in more olive oil when needed, again making sure to fill the jars.
  • Before hand tightening the lids in place, Dave wiped off the jar’s upper edges to clean up any left over tuna remains. This ensures a proper fit of the lids to the jars. Finally, Dave demonstrates how to properly hand tighten the lids since over tightening is problematic.
  • Now Dave starting filling his pressure vessel with the packed jars of tuna, stacking them two jars tall inside the vessel. Once filled, he started filling the vessel with cold water just below the first level jar’s lids.
  • His stove top flame was turned on high and once steam started coming out of the pressure vents, he allowed the steam to vent for another 10 minutes. Then he placed his calibrated 10 psi weight onto the vent port and allowed the vessel to come to its proper pressure. That’s when the calibrated weight started to toggle and dance. That’s the moment the cooking starts for exactly one hour forty minutes.
  • After the allotted time, Dave turned off the heat and allowed his vessel to cool for exactly one hour before he opened the vessel’s lid. At that time, Dave used a jar gripping tool to remove the jars from the vessel and onto his kitchen counter top.
  • These jars are ready to be stored in a cool dark place for up to a year before being opened.

Good luck with your canning! I can’t wait to try it!

Check out Fisherman’s Belly for the canning materials and more!

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Fisherman's Belly is the brainchild of Yanni Hassir, a SoCal waterman whose passion extends from the ocean to his kitchen. offers a growing list of seasonal SoCal sport fish recipes. There are tips and tricks for cooking yellowtail, rockfish, white seabass, halibut, lobster, tuna...