How To Can Carp | The Best Way


Carp are abundant and surprisingly delicious. Even so, some people avoid eating them since they contain many small bones and can taste muddy. However, with proper processing and canning, your carp can taste just as delicious as canned tuna or salmon!

Here’s the best way to can carp: 

  1. Get your ingredients and supplies.
  2. Sterilize your jars.
  3. Prepare your carp.
  4. Soak your carp in brine.
  5. Pack your jars.
  6. Pressure-cook the filled jars.

Let’s go through these steps together and can some carp. I’ll share some tips, tricks, and unique recipes I’ve learned from years of canning carp that’ll ensure your fish tastes fantastic, lasts for years, and has a smooth, buttery texture. 

1. Get Your Ingredients and Supplies

Jelly Making Tool Kit
A few tools of the trade in my kitchen.

Before we can get canning, you’ll need to get all your supplies ready and lay them out on a clean surface for easy processing. 

To can carp, you’ll need: 

  • Pint-sized canning jars with lids and a wide mouth funnel (if possible)
  • A pressure cooker 
  • De-Skinned Fileted Carp
  • Canning and Pickling Salt (not iodized)
  • Oil such as olive or canola
  • White vinegar
  • (Optional) Flavorings such as mustard, ketchup, garlic, pepper, or herbs

2. Sterilize Your Jars

Jelly Grandma Showing Sterilization Process
I’m about to sterilize some jars.

With all of your supplies ready, it’s time to get into the fun part. 

When you pressure anything, the jars must be as sterile as possible. That way, there’s a smaller chance that any bacteria or fungi will grow in your preserved goods, ensuring that your carp will last as long as possible. 

To sterilize your canning jars:

  1. Place the jars in your pressure cooker or a large pot with the jars’ mouths pointing up.
  2. Remove the lids from the jars and place them in the pot.
  3. Fill your pressure cooker or pot with water, filling and covering the jars by about ½ inch (about 1 cm) above the mouths.
  4. Heat the water and bring it to a boil. 
  5. Boil the jars and lids for at least 10 minutes to kill all bacteria and fungi. 
  6. Once the jars have boiled, remove them from heat and allow them to cool before removing them from the water with tongs or a jar lifter. 
  7. Allow the jars to dry thoroughly before using them. 

Now that your jars are clean, it’s time to get to the main dish– the fish!

3. Prepare Your Carp

For canning, you’ll need to have a pre-filleted, de-skinned piece of carp. If you’ve caught the carp yourself and need some advice on the best way to process fillets, check out this tutorial from Mason Outdoors:

Once your carp is in thin fillets, rinse well and cut it into small chunks–about 1 inch by 1 inch (2.5 cm by 2.5 cm). Cutting up the carp makes it easier to pack it tightly in the jars and help to maximize your canning space. 

4. Soak Your Carp in Brine

It’s necessary to soak your carp in brine because it salts the meat and keeps it sterile. 

To make your brine, mix one gallon of water with one cup of canning or pickling salt in a large bowl or pot. Be sure to use a salt that isn’t iodized since iodine could introduce a sour flavor to the carp and cause preserved fish go bad faster. 

Once you’ve mixed up the brine, finish the process with these steps:

  1. Place your carp chunks in the brine and cover with plastic wrap or foil. 
  2. Leave the fish to marinate in the brine for an hour to ensure the meat absorbs plenty of salt. 
  3. Once the hour is up, drain the brine from the fish. 

5. Pack Your Jars

Jelly Grandma Showing Packing Process Before Sterilization
I recommend getting a wide-mouth funnel.

Now it’s time to get packing!

Pack your carp chunks into your jars tightly, leaving at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of headspace at the top. 

Add one tablespoon of oil, three tablespoons of white vinegar, and one teaspoon of canning salt to each jar. The salt and vinegar will help preserve and flavor the fish, while the oil will keep your carp moist, even after so much salting. 

At this point, you can also choose to add flavorings to your carp to make it taste better. Some of my favorite flavor combinations for canned carp are: 

  • Garlic and herbs: Mix in a clove of crushed garlic, a bit of black pepper, and about a teaspoon of rosemary, dill, and oregano. 
  • Mustard: Add a teaspoon or two of mustard, which will make your carp taste similar to sardines with mustard. 
  • Spicy ketchup: Mix in a tablespoon of ketchup, some red pepper flakes, and a clove of crushed garlic for a bold flavor. 

The sky’s the limit when it comes to creating unique signature flavors, so feel free to get creative and try new ingredients to make your carp taste like a gourmet treat.

Once you’re satisfied with the packing, wipe off the jar mouths and screw on the lids. Twist until you feel resistance, then stop. If you screw them on too tight, your pressure cooker won’t be able to remove air from your jars, which will decrease the shelf life of your carp. 

6. Pressure-Cook the Filled Jars

Jelly Grandma Showing Pressure Canning Process

Now, it’s time to pull out the pressure cooker and can your carp. 

It’s crucial to note that not all pressure-cookers are the same, and you should follow the instructions for pressure cooking given in your cooker’s manual. Specifically, take note of any guidelines for:

  • how many jars you can cook at one time
  • how much water to add
  • how to layer your jars properly for your specific model 

Once you have added the proper amount of water and the jars to your cooking chamber, cook the carp for 90 minutes at a pressure of 15 lbs. 

When time is up, remove the cooker from heat and allow the pressure to fall naturally. When the pot is cool enough to touch, you can release the excess steam and remove the jars. 

Once the jars are cool, you’re all done! Be sure to store your carp somewhere dry, dark, and cool. For the best results, wait around a month before consuming (this will allow the flavors to intensify). 

For a helpful video guide to the carp canning process, check out this fantastic and fantastic and thorough walkthrough from Captain Catfish on Youtube: 

Common Questions About Canning Carp

Here are some of the most common questions I get about canning carp from beginners and experienced canners alike: 

Can You Pressure-Can Carp? 

You can pressure-can carp to make your carp last for years. During the process, the many crunchy y-shaped bones in the carp get soft and chewable, making the fish easier to eat. Many believe this method is one of the best ways to make your fish last longer and, ultimately, is the only way to go.

How Long Will Canned Carp Last? 

Pressure canned carp generally lasts around three years when stored properly and sealed. However, the texture and taste are best when eaten within the first year after canning. 

What Does Canned Carp Taste Like? 

Canned carp tastes like a milder, less fishy-tasting tuna, and it makes a fantastic substitute for canned tuna. Many people who don’t particularly enjoy the taste of fish still enjoy the light taste of canned carp

How Do You Make Carp Taste Better? 

You can make carp taste better by removing the red line. Carp usually has a red mud-line in the meat, which can give your carp a dirty, muddy taste. Additionally, adding flavorful ingredients during the canning process, like spices, herbs, and condiments, can make carp taste like a gourmet treat!

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide to canning carp has inspired you to preserve your catch of the day! Canning carp may take some time and care, but making it yourself and tailoring the flavors to your palate is well worth it.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, don’t miss How Long Canning Jars Take to Seal (And How to Tell).

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page.

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