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How to Clean a Fish for Vacuum Sealing

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You reeled in a beautiful catch after a long day out on the water and your cooler is filled with fresh fish. Now what?

Catching fish is one of the best ways to enjoy a delicious seafood meal, but you'll have to clean the critter first. And if you have a large haul, you'll want to clean and vacuum seal those fish as soon as possible to enjoy the freshness later. A FoodSaver® Starter Kit and some Portion Pouch Rolls can help with the sealing, but you'll have to prep the catch yourself beforehand.

Don't fret. It's an easier process than you think.

Your Cleaning Kit
Before jumping in the boat or grabbing your rod, make sure you have all the tools necessary for cleaning your fish beforehand:

  • A sturdy surface and a cutting board
  • Sharp fillet knife
  • Lots of paper towels
  • Spoon
  • Protective gloves.
Cleaning and vacuum sealing your catch is the best way to have a tasty free meal around any time.Cleaning and vacuum sealing your catch is the best way to have a tasty, free meal around any time.

The Step-by-Step Process
Once you have all the essentials - along with your catch of the day - it's time to get down to business. Keep in mind that this whole process may get a little sloppy. Keep those paper towels close-by.

  1. Rinse and dry the fish. Anything that's been swimming around in the ocean or lake will be a little slimy when you take it out of the water. Give that fish a good cleaning before you start.
  2. Scale it. Hold the fish by the head and slowly move the knife or a scaling tool upward against the scales. Continue until all the scales are removed.
  3. Make a shallow incision across the belly. Lay the fish on its side and delicately cut down from the gills to the rear fin.
  4. Make two cuts on either side of the head. Cut perpendicular from the incision made below the gills and upward to the backbone. 
  5. Cut through the backbone.
  6. Pull the head out away toward the belly. If your previous cuts are clean and precise, you'll be able to pull out all of the guts with the head.
  7. Clear away the dark inner membrane and rinse thoroughly. This part of the fish can be eaten, but it provides an unpleasant oily flavor. You can remove it easily with a spoon.

And there you have it! You now have a fresh cut of fish ready for cooking or saving. Put everything you want to save in a bag for vacuum sealing and save it in a cold part of the freezer for a special occasion.