A gift in the dark

The knock on the back door gave us a fright. We don't generally get visitors in the country, you know, especially at dinner time, in the dark, on a week night.

But it was only B our neighbour, delivering several kilos of freshly caught tuna that a work colleague had given him.  Living in household of non fish eaters, B knew we'd love it.  What a generous gift!

My first instinct was to chuck it in the deep freeze, to be lost in the midst of time, forgotten along with the pig heads and pet mince that lurk in the bottom of the chest freezer (that has been mistakenly used in bolognese by the way. Not good).

Luckily B delivered it during the rush hour so I had a few hours to think about what to do with it before entombing it to an icy grave. Preserving it!  Brilliant!   Did you see that episode of Gourmet Farmer when they caught that tuna and preserved it on the beach?  How awesome was that?  I had a plan!

I must tell you that I love canned tuna, but I don't eat it anymore. Sigh. I used to love Sirena, not only for the taste but for that little lovely mermaid on the lid.  For a couple of years now I've realised that sadly it's not sustainable, so it's been off the menu.  There are other more sustainable brands available, I know, but to me they have the texture of cat food and not those lovely chunks like Sirena, so I don't eat them.  I was excited at the prospect of making my own.

It's dead easy.  I had a peak at Matthew's recipe on the SBS site, and I also found a recipe, on a blog called Calabria From Scratch *, which I liked because you cut the tuna into thick slices and seemed slightly more manageable.  I kind of crossed the two together, Matthew's extra care with preserving and avoiding botulism using the aesthetic of the Calabrian recipe.

Simply boil the tuna in salted water for two hours, drain, then pack into jars, cover with olive oil and boil the sealed jars for two hours.   Et voila! The Calabrians leave theirs in the pantry for one month before tucking in, and some say to leave it for six months. I'm not sure I can wait one week.

Now we have guilt free tuna to last for a while, and enough jars for gifts and plenty to share with B.  I may deliver them next door at night, and return the favour of a gift in the dark.





PS Sarah Wilson has this great post about what tuna you can eat.

* The link doesn't seem to be working at the moment, but hopefully it's temporary and will be back.

17 comments:

  1. What a wonderful gift!

    It's beyond me how over the years things have gotten worse with canned tuna. When did we all stop being so up in arms about it? Personally it was probably when I just assumed athat all tuna brands had gone sustainable. Thanks for the link to Sarah Wilson's site - that's a really good read (I'm also a big Sirena fan - but once the current stash is eaten no longer!)

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  2. Yikes I love that tuna brand as well! *sigh*

    We preserved tuna like this a few years ago after my partner caught some on a fishing trip (not sure how sustainable that is either!) We ended up with a huge amount of tuna because most of the others on the boat gave us theirs as well.

    We pretty much did the same as you (after a mad dash to buy 2 boxes of new jars). It was delicious! We ended up with 52 jars of goodness and a house that stank of cat food for about a week! I will be doing it outside next time.

    We did some with garlic and thyme and it was voted the best.

    P.S. we found a jar at the back of the pantry 2 years later....still delicious!

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  3. I green with envy - I have never forgotten that Gourmet Farmer episode and have often wondered how to get a fresh line caught tuna here in Queensland:(

    I loved Sirena tuna too (for the same reasons - really yummy and I'm a sucker for cute tins) However since I found out about it's sustainability status a few years ago I have stopped buying it. I try different brands but am not happy with any in particular, sadly we are just eating less tinned tuna.

    It seems you have very lovely neighbours:)

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  4. lucky you! i love tin tuna but its also off the menu at our place for ethical reasons. my partner used to be a tuna wrangler in port lincoln on the tuna farms. we used to have access to plenty of tuna and wish i had looked into how to preserve it rather than chucking it in the freezer. enjoy!

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  5. Oh how lovely! Thanks for sharing.
    Now all I have to do is to get Trav to go fishing (he hates it!!)
    Sounds yummo xx

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  6. a wonderful surprise gift from the sea.

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  7. I remember that episode very well. I love tinned tuna and was drooling at the thought of preserving my own, on the beach!
    Looks delicious and makes me want to be your neighbour too;) x ashley

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  8. How very kind of your neighbour. I am so impressed that you presevered it.

    Have you tried the brand Fish 4 Ever? My local organic store sells this brand of tuna, anchovies and a couple of other fishy treats that are sustainably farmed. Here is a link http://www.fish-4-ever.com/.

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  9. It looks the goods, we don't eat a lot of tuna. Fresh or canned. In fact we should eat more seafood than we do.

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  10. Oh, how easy is that? I think you are very brave, I would never even think of preserving tuna at home. Looks delicious.

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  11. I'm impressed. When's dinner?

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  12. I love this! I love your blog and having just found out we are moving to the country, and the home has 2 kitchens, I am inspired to get a woodburning stove for one of them.

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  13. Really, really loved this post - your tuna looks amazing - and the whole process - wow.

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  14. Such a generous gift - I loved the GF episode and would just LOVE to preserve my own tuna one day. Yours looks absolutely delish! x

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  15. Seems that there are a few of us who loved Sirena. I'm with you, I tried a more sustainable brand but couldn't stomach it at all. Look forward to your report of the results, looks delicious!!!

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  16. i took a pressure canning class last summer where we canned tuna. i've been wanting to do some for myself ever since but haven't found a good source. how lucky you are!

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  17. So impressive! that tuna looks amazing! x

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