Friday, June 29, 2012

Preserving: Tonno Sott' Olio

Tonno Sott' Olio
Recipe by Rosetta Costantino

Recently I've been favoring recipes that call for tonno sott' olio - tuna preserved in olive oil. The commercial product available here in the USA is very expensive. Fortunately, it turns out to be pretty easy to make. The tuna still ain't cheap (my tuna was $17.99 a pound so I'm "saving" about $15 versus buying the imported product) but for anyone with a pressure canner or two, it's an interesting change from the annual cycle of vegetable canning that culminates with an orgy of tomato processing in late summer.

There are (at least) three main approaches to making tonno sott' olio at home. One involves a pickling brine with vinegar, salt and various aromatics. Mario Batali has a representative recipe of this type, Fresh Canned Tuna, as does Lidia Bastianich. Note that both these recipes produce a product meant to be refrigerated.

The second approach uses a simple brine: water and salt; the versions differ mainly in the amount of salt used. This is the approach I'm using, as described by Rosetta Costantino in My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South.

The third approach involves pressure canning fresh, uncooked fish with a little salt and olive oil. Some sources recommend this approach for any fish except tuna, others apply it to tuna as well.

This being SAI's first pressure canning recipe of the season, now would be a good time to drag out your equipment and check it over. I found that the over pressure plug on mine and gotten a tiny cut sometime over the winter - that would have made quite a mess had it blown out.

And for more exciting canning blogification:

Laura Williams' Musings

Cook time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Total time: About a month
Yield: 4-6 half pints

  • Instant read thermometer
  • 6 quart, non-reactive saucepan
  • 1/2 pint canning jars, fresh lids, and bands
  • Pressure cooker or canner

  • 2 lbs Fresh Tuna
  • 3 Quarts Water
  • 2/3 Cup Salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Bring water to a boil in a large (6 quart) non-reactive pot. Add the salt.
  2. Cut tuna into chunks at about 2 inches thick.
  3. Place the tuna in the water and reduce heat to a bare simmer.

  4. Cook, about 60-90 minutes until the internal temperature of the tuna reaches at least 165 F
  5. Remove the tuna and drain carefully on kitchen towels.
  6. Place tuna in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Wash canning jars and bands with soap and hot water and rinse carefully. Pour boiling water over the lids.
  8. Carefully cut the chunks of tuna into pieces that will fit snugly into the canning jars, leaving a 1 inch head space.

  9. Pour olive oil into the jars, just covering the tuna.
  10. Wipe the rims and seal the jars.
  11. Process in the pressure canner for 100 minutes at 10 lbs.
  12. Allow the tuna to cool, clean and label the jars and store in a cool dark place for 30 days.


Tuna: There is no reason to use sushi grade tuna in this recipe. You're cooking it completely into submission, then drying it, then pressure cooking it for over an hour and a half.

Olive Oil: For the same reasons as the tuna, there's no need to use your $40 a bottle fabulous Tuscan EVOO. It's being pressure cooked with big chunks of tuna. Use a mild, inexpensive EVOO. I used a California oil that runs about $10 a liter.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this and linking up at the Carnival of Home Preserving, William!



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