Fine-Tuning The Process

By Raeanne O’Meara

While I still have yet to make it out to the ocean this year, my partner just got back from a quick trip off the northwest coast. A successful adventure meant that there was plenty of salmon and halibut to package up, which turns into somewhat of a social gathering with friends and family; stories are exchanged and the never-ending debate on what improvements to our food preserving equipment we could make. Every year it seems that we upgrade something that makes our lives easier or betters the final product. After all the time and money spent on catching wild seafood each year, it only makes sense to fine-tune the process.


Nearly 10 years ago was the first time I went to the ocean on a fishing trip. We came back with very few fish and did not own a vacuum sealer at the time, so we packed the fillets up in large, heavy-duty freezer bags filled with water before putting them into the freezer. Simple and effective, it kept our fish nicely throughout the winter. My only complaint was that the bags were bulky and took up quite a bit of room in the freezer.



This system worked well for us, until we had a particularly successful trip and came home with a limit of salmon. If we froze the salmon in bags of water as we did previously, we would not have had enough room in our freezer for it all. My mother-in-law generously lent us her vacuum sealer to use, and it was the very next day that we ordered one of our own after being thoroughly impressed with the ease of the process.


With a built-in bag cutter, the time we spent packaging up fish slowly decreased as we increased our efficiency with the new vacuum sealer – and it was an absolute workhorse for close to a decade, sealing up hundreds of pounds of fish (and wild game) throughout that time. We streamlined the process in other places. I learned how to fillet salmon, then halibut, so that it wasn’t just my partner doing all the cutting; we bought better knives, meat lugs for keeping fillets tidy in between cutting and packing, and counter-height tables so that our backs were not sore by the end of the day.


Once said vacuum sealer finally bit the biscuit, we were faced with a choice – invest in a better quality (and more expensive) sealer or purchase what we had before. It was an important decision, one made painfully clear when we took out the last few packages of salmon that the old sealer had struggled to package, only to find the seals had failed and the fish was starting to get freezer burnt. The allure, and desire, to continually upgrade and improve things was strong, but we just couldn’t justify the price of the commercial ones I had my eye on when the FoodSaver had done so well for us in the past.

With a $100 price tag, we ordered the most basic of FoodSavers, lacking the built-in bag storage and cutter, but with the same reliable results as before; we will save up for a few more years to get the one we are really interested in. In the meantime, we will enjoy the system we have in place, each and every time we pull a piece of salmon out for dinner.