Preserving tuna is a great way to store fish that you cannot eat in one go. The flavour obtained is far superior to tuna in a tin and rarely found in the shops – so you will have to make it yourself. You do need the bones and/or head to help the process for flavour. Albacore is an excellent tuna to try this recipe with. Try going to local fish markets to source whole fish to try this old Italian way of preserving fish.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (109 votes)


  • 1 quantity tuna (head, bones, skin on)
  • salt
  • oilve oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time 30 minutes

In a large pot, add the tuna meat, fish bones and skin, etc. Cover with a salt-water solution. (Sea water is on average 3.5% salt. To make your own, for every 1 litre of water, add 35 g of salt). Stir thoroughly.

Bring to the boil and boil for 3–4 hours (reduce heat a little to obtain a gentle rolling boil).

After 3–4 hours, remove from heat and allow to cool (cool enough so you can dip your hands in).

Remove the tuna meat gently and break up into large pieces. Place the pieces into sterilised jars. Top up each jar with olive oil, shaking gently to remove air bubbles. Seal each jar immediately, though not too tight.

Place jars in a large pot (see Note) and cover with water. Bring to boil, and boil for 2 hours (see Note). 

After 2 hours, remove the jars and set aside to cool. Store in a cool place for 1 month to allow the flavours to develop.


• Place cloth in bottom of your pot and between layers. This will stop jars rattling in the metal pan.
• The oil will tend to expand a little during this boiling process, so don't put the lids on too tightly. That said, the lids do have to be tight enough for the oil not to escape.
• It is recommended you use the fish in cooked dishes, heating the fish to at least 80°C before consuming so as to minimise risk of botulism.