Preserving cod in olive oil / artichokes - pressure canning

I will soon be the owner of a new Spanish-made pressure cooker/canner - in addition to preserving whole fruit and veggies from the garden this summer, I also wanted to try canning fish. I had tried cod fillets preserved in olive oil at Despaña in NYC and thought it was quite possibly among most delicious non-oily fish I've ever tasted, tinned or not. Unfortunately, it seems that the Basque cannery Alkorta Bacalaos only imports to the US through Despaña and one other company based on the west coast- no retailers I know of stock it here in Chicago. However, I do have access to good quality cod in both salted and fresh form, and Spanish extra virgin olive oil to boot.

If anyone has ever pressure canned a fish like cod before (most of the recipes I've come across are for tuna or salmon), do you have any recipe/method recommendations? Do you think salt cod (after soaking) or fresh will give better results? Any pitfalls to avoid? I'm grateful for your help.

Also would love some advice for doing the same for grilled artichoke hearts and fava beans.

Jan Weber
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Minchia S. January 11, 2022
Cod should be canned the same as tuna. Actually, tuna is more dense and oily, so it is a greater challenge. Also, fish needs to be pressure canned, not in a hot water bath. The pressure canning time is much longer. I canned tuna in a great olive oil, adding salt, garlic and rosemary to each half pint jar. Look up the canning time, but i seem to remember pressure canning half pint jars for 90 minutes. You can cooking and sterilizing, without much acidity, so a small jar can require 90 minutes of pressure canning.
amysarah March 28, 2016
Unfortunately I can't help with pressure canning, but just to mention that Alkorta cod in olive oil is available online from Despana: (I'll definitely try it next time I'm at the shop.)
Jan W. March 28, 2016
No worries - yeah I saw Despaña has it for sale online, I would have done that except their shipping rates are really really steep for anything outside of the tri-state area, even if its non-perishables. I might just have to run in there the next time I'm in NYC.
biocarolyn March 28, 2016
I'm looking at the manual that came with my pressure canner, and I see that they are recommending 110 minute processing time for both pints and quarts for raw fish. 10 psi under 1,000 feet, but 15 psi over 1,000. They also say you can add 1 Tbsp per half pint or enough oil to cover fish by 1/4". US guidelines are notoriously more conservative than European. That oil pack is a PERFECT anaerobic environment.... if it was me, I'd test the longer processing time with a small amount of fish, because I bet the texture won't be as good as what you bought commercially.

Also of note is the idea that the USDA recipes are tested with dedicated pressure canners, rather than pressure cookers. The larger size allows for a slower cool down that is including in their processing time. There's a note in my manual that the two smallest sizes aren't recommended for canning smoked fish due to this issue. Don't know how large your canner is, but thought it was worth a mention.
Jan W. March 28, 2016
I am definitely going to do a lot of testing - this 10 qt model is from Fagor - they advertise it as a pressure cooker/canner and it specifically gives canning instructions and a few recipes in the instruction manual. They also sell a lower-end model as a set with a home canning kit of utensils and a rack - they also sell it separately with a canning recipe book but I have to decide if I want to spend $40 just for that or get an equivalent set of tools for cheaper elsewhere.

Unfortunately all of Fagor's cannner models only have two pressure settings, 8# or 15#. According to the guide in the online manual from Fagor's website 15# is recommended for something like this.
Jan W. March 28, 2016
Hrm...well I have been doing some research - luckily I understand enough Castillian Spanish to read some of their recipes. Interestingly (and possibly concerning to many) is that not only do some of the recipes (mostly from Basque regions and Galicia) only use the water-bath method to seal the jars, some of them even include chopped garlic (!) among the seasoning agents. They seem to suggest that everything is cooked in a skillet before adding to the jars of fish, but 1) I dont think I want my cod to have any garlic flavor, and 2) Even if I did I wouldn't want to risk having a jar full of C. botulinum spores.

Anyway it looks like this is the method suggested by the home canners in Bilbao.

1) Wash cod pieces and soak in water, changing water at least 10x, for 2 days.

2) Marinate pieces with extra virgin olive oil and seasoning in the fridge for two hours.

3) Place pieces in sanitized 500-750g jars and fill with EVOO with 2-3 cm of headspace.

4) Remove any bubbles and be sure no pieces rise above the oil line. Cover with sterilized lids.

5) Place jars on rack in pressure canner with tea towel - heat to 15# for 70 minutes. Cool gradually after processing and check seals. Let cure for at least 1 month in a dark place.
biocarolyn March 26, 2016
USDA guidelines, which tend to be relatively conservative, are here:

Their directions for canning fish concentrate on fatty fish, and do not involve oil. However, there is a note about adding some oil while processing halibut. Nothing listed specifically about cod. It's up to you in terms of your risk tolerance, but this is an area of canning that caution is warranted. Botulism, though very rare, is deadly and impossible to detect by sight/smell.
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