By: Bojan “Bojangles” Zivkovic
The weather has finally started to cool down in Southern Ontario which is a clear sign fall salmon season is here! Most Ontario tributaries – and those throughout the Great Lakes – are seeing runs of salmon. Early returns point towards nothing short of quality fish.
Fall marks egg season in the province, a method that’s effective through spring. Meanwhile, not all eggs are created equal. I can’t help but to preach the importance of having fresh cured eggs to bump success rates and your confidence in catching salmon and trout. In this blog I’m going to focus on how I cure eggs to catch Ontario salmon. I blend Pautzke’s Fire Cure and BorX O’ Fire and show you why you should, too.
To get started you’ll need these few things:
– Fresh Chinook salmon skeins
– Pink BorX O’ Fire
– Red Fire Cure
– Paper towels
– Ziploc or a Tupperware
The most important step to having a good cured egg is to start with the freshest eggs possible. Keep in mind frozen eggs don’t cure as well as fresh eggs. Make sure the salmon is bled out when harvested and aim to keep the eggs clean. Keep them away from water or any other contamination. Don’t wash the eggs in river or lake water. This has the potential to ruin the opacity and colour of the eggs. All harvested eggs should go straight from the salmon and into a Ziploc. Fresh uncured eggs wont spoil for about a week when kept cool. However, it’s best to cure eggs as soon as possible.
The Go-To Ontario Egg Cure
- First things first, set up a curing station by laying down newspapers in the area you plan to cure eggs. In this case I am only using two small skeins and don’t need a lot of surface area to work on. The newspaper stops the roe from leeching into the table. Then place paper towels on top of the newspaper. They serve as pads to absorb any excess moisture, blood or dirt that are on the skeins.
- Once the curing station is set up it is time to get the skeins ready and butterfly them. Take care to butterfly your skeins gently and use caution not to split or tear up the membrane. I start at one end of the skein and use my thumb to stretch out the skein while positioning my index fingers to push the membrane in towards me. Once you have carefully split the skeins as wide as they can possibly open place the skeins membrane side up onto the paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.
- Use scissors to carefully cut skein chunks to the desired fishing size. Carefully dissect and cut along the membrane accordingly to get your desired chunk size. Do this process gently to keep as many eggs in tact as possible. After you have cut all of your skein chunks up, stagger them across your paper towel sheets so that you are ready to begin the curing process.
- Once all your chunks are laid out and staggered it is now time to employ Pink BorX O’ Fire and Red Fire Cure. Whichever cure you decide to start off with doesn’t matter since they will both be mixed in with the skein chunks. Gently give the skein chunks a light dousing (not heavy) using cures. Try to keep the powder on the eggs and within your working station so you don’t stain your table. Try to avoid touching the eggs from here on out if you want your hands clean.
- After you have lightly doused the skein chunks using BorX O’ Fire and Fire Cure use the sheets of paper towel to tumble the chunks back and forth until they are thoroughly mixed. The chunks are now ready to be transferred into a Tupperware or Ziploc. I prefer to use bags so I can continue mixing the chunks in the Ziploc. It’s messier to do this with Tupperware. Once you have gently massaged and tumbled them around in the Ziploc they can be put back into the fridge to let the magic begin.
- You are done with the workstation. Throw it away. If you used this method your hands are clean and not pink.
The first few hours being in the fridge notice that the eggs have released their juices. Do not fret! Seeing this mess is completely normal. This means that the cure is working its magic. After the sixth or seventh hour the eggs will already reabsorb most of the juices. They also look much more plump. This is good.
Once the skein chunks start to look like they’ve reabsorbed most of the juices