This is the aspect of fish processing that transforms the fish from its fresh state into a dried form which is cooked and fit for consumption. Oven-drying or smoking the fish for market.
Before carrying out this stage, you must ensure the fresh fish passes through the first three stages that have been explained earlier which are:
- Source for the Fish
- Clean the Fish
- Brining the Fish
You also need to get the needed equipment for the drying process. The items, tools, or equipment needed have been explained earlier.
Steps to take in oven-drying your fish
- Prepare your fish.
- Clean your working facility.
- Turn on the heat source.
- Introduce your prepared Panla fish.
- Check the fish at regular intervals.
- Remove the dried fish from the heating facility.
- Turn off the fire from the heat source.
Prepare your fish: This process has been explained earlier. It involves cleaning, setting, brining, or seasoning the fish before they are introduced into the drying facility.
Clean your working facility: This process must be carried out if you want to have a good outcome after drying. It involves dusting, washing, and drying every piece of equipment that will be used during the drying process to avoid dirt from getting in contact with the fish. If this process is properly done, your fish will be free from sand and every form of dirt that can affect the fish’s taste and make consumers not satisfied with your products.
Turn on the heat source: This is the time to turn on fire to the heat source. The fire should be turned on before the fish are introduced into the Oven or local heat chamber. This is because the pre-heating activity will help to kill germs or microbes that may have been formed in the processing facility or tools which is part of the cleaning process.
Introduce your prepared Panla fish: The prepared fish is explained in the first step is to be introduced into the Oven. This should be carefully and patiently done to avoid breakage and contamination of the fish. Oven-drying or smoking the fish for market.
Firstly, the processor should get his hands well cleaned by washing and should use clean runner hand gloves if available.
After this, he can arrange the fish on the chamber rack before moving them into the oven or over the heat source.
Check the fish at regular intervals: After introducing the fish, it will be observed that water from the fish will begin to fall downwards immediately. This will continue for a while because fresh fish contains a good percentage of water.
The Panla fish must be checked at regular intervals to ensure that the heat is well-regulated and the fish are not burning. Oven-drying or smoking the fish for market.
After about 7 hours which the fish has been receiving heat, it will observed that oil will start dropping from the fish. A this point, it shows that the water content has been released and then the drying process has begun.
The fish should be left to keep releasing the oil but it should be checked frequently. At the point you observe that the top parts are oily and the parts facing the heat source are dried, you can turn the sides of the fish to allow heat to affect the other side. This will prevent one side of the fish from burning.
Although Panla fish hardly gets burnt due to its low oil content, unlike Catfish. But is very important you put an eye on the drying process.
One major thing that can get them burnt is unregulated heat or a sudden increase in the heat.
Remove the dried fish from the heating facility: At around the 12th hour, you will discover some fish that are already dried and need to be removed from the Oven. At this stage, keep your eyes on the Fish. Randomly pick the fish to check the level of dryness because they are already dried and fit for consumption at this stage but need to be well dried to avoid them getting spoilt quickly.
The fish should be removed from the heat chamber and packed well to preserve them.
Turn off the fire from the heat source: This is one of the important things to be done after drying or smoking your fish to prevent the destruction of life and properties from fire outbreaks.
The heat source should either be removed or turned off with the use of water for heat sources like firewood and charcoal. For heat sources like Gas or Electricity, the heat source should be turned off by using the available controls. Oven-drying or smoking the fish for market.