With warm weather upon us, this article about how to preserve fresh fish in warm weather seemed useful. It comes from “The Sportsman’s Hand Book” by Col. Horace Park, 1886. If you have any tips or insights, please post them in the comments.
HOW TO PRESERVE FRESH FISH IN WARM WEATHER
A simple and effectual mode of preparing fresh trout, or any other kind of fish so they can be preserved, perfectly fresh and good, for from seven to ten days, at any time of the year, and in almost any climate.
Trout, as well as other fish, should be killed as soon as caught, and never be permitted to again touch water; fish will keep longer, and retain their flavor better, than by attempting to keep them alive in the water, or permitting them to die out of the water.
To prepare trout, kill them as soon as they are caught, keeping them in a clean basket, box, or creel, and free from water. When you have caught a sufficient quantity to make a package, prepare them as follows: With a dry towel or cloth, wipe them clean and dry, open them on the belly for the purpose of removing the entrails; then with the thumb, or a round bladed knife, scrape the blood from the back bone, then remove the gills, also the eyes, as the fluid from the eyes would give the fish an unpleasant flavor; now, again wipe them dry; the more thoroughly this is done, the better they will keep; then, from the inside, split the fish through the backbone to the skin on the back, then sprinkle salt over the open fish and rub it well in, using just enough to properly season the fish when cooked, close the sides together so the fish will look natural, then spread them over night on a dry log or board for the purpose of cooling. The nights where trout are usually caught are cool,—sufficiently so for this purpose: In the morning, before sunrise, carefully fold the fish in dry towels, in rows, distributed in such a manner that there will be a fold of the towel between each fish; this must be done with care, then carefully wrap the whole package snugly in a piece of muslin, then with a coarse needle and thread, sew the package close and tight; wrap again in a piece of woolen blanket, or a whole one is better, and sew the ends and sides, being certain to have sufficient coverings of cloth and woolens, now put the roll in a stout paper bag, such as is used for flour, then tie tightly, and the thing is done.
Fish in this manner can be sent from Maine to New Orleans, even in August, and preserved fresh and nice. The more care bestowed in preparing them, the better they will keep. The fleshy parts of venison can be preserved in the same way.
Fishing and hunting parties desiring to send fish or game to distant friends, in warm weather, can do it in this way with perfect assurance that they will arrive sweet and wholesome, if they have been careful in preparing them.