By: Bojan Zivkovic
“Bojangles. How do you get your roe to look so good?”
That is a question I get quite often from my friends and anglers on the water, especially after one has seen my freshly cured batch of eggs whether it is trout or salmon eggs. Vibrant, soft, tacky, and plump is a way I like to describe a perfectly cured batch of eggs. I can honestly say the eggs I cure using Pautzke’s Fire Cure turn out to be the perfect ‘textbook’ batch of eggs, every single time. It’s not rocket science! The curing is a very simple process, which any novice or experienced salmon or trout angler can accomplish within minutes.
First and foremost, to have that perfectly cured batch of eggs, you must have freshly harvested eggs. Frozen roe will not cure well although it rejuvenates well with Pautzke’s Nectar, so it is very important to start with fresh eggs. Any harvested fish should be bled out immediately unless your fish is kept alive throughout your day on the water. Blood can quickly spoil your eggs quickly, especially if you keep your eggs in the fridge for a couple days prior to the curing process.
Once you have your fresh eggs ready for the curing process, I recommend scraping your salmon or steelhead eggs off the skein (membrane) with a spoon if the eggs happen to be premature. Although skein can be too messy to work with for some anglers, scraped eggs carry more scent and milk better compared to mature (loose) eggs.
To scrape the eggs with minimal mess, flip the eggs down on a paper towel so that the membrane side is facing upwards. The paper towel sheets help dry out your fresh eggs if there is far too much moisture. From this step, you can take a spoon and slowly start scraping the eggs gently off the back of the membrane from the top of the skein down to the bottom. While scraping your eggs, be sure to get rid of any bloody membrane since blood will spoil a cured batch of eggs quickly.
After your eggs have all been scraped off the membrane, you are now ready to start the curing process. Fire Cure is a personal favourite of mine whether it is natural, orange, pink, or red. While targeting steelhead, I find myself using Orange Fire Cure the most since the eggs come out more vibrantly when using different colours of spawn mesh. If I am l satisfied with the colour of the eggs that came out of the fish naturally, I use Natural Fire Cure since the colour of the eggs in salmon and trout vary in different bodies of water.
Now that the eggs have all been scraped, I transfer them onto a clean piece of paper towel to get rid of any leftover moisture in the eggs so I can start curing the stage. This part is the most important when it comes to curing because you do not want to use too much cure on the eggs. Salmon eggs will take more dousing of Fire Cure because the eggs are much bigger in comparison to steelhead or brown trout eggs. The smaller your eggs are, the less Fire Cure they require. Lately I have been curing scraped steelhead eggs, which do not need much of the cure at all.
Too much cure will burn your eggs, which does not allow them to reabsorb all the juices once they are curing in the fridge. This is a problem that a lot of anglers have which sways them a way from using curing products. If your cured eggs never reabsorbed the juices, you have put way too much cure into them. Do not let this happen to you! (This is the case with Fire Cure, which is a sulfite based cure. Burning eggs isn’t an issue with BorX O Fire, a borax based cure.)
The Simplest Egg Cure
- Lightly powder your eggs using your colour choice of Fire Cure. If you are using trout eggs, remember to go easy on the amount of cure. For two scraped skeins out of a smaller fish (4-6lbs), I use about 3-4 teaspoons of Fire Cure. I generally use just about enough cure to lightly powder the top of the eggs.
- Once I have powdered the eggs using Fire Cure, I give them a thorough mixing on the paper towel. The same can be done as well in a jar or a Ziploc. During this step, you’ll notice that the eggs will slowly start to become wet. This is a good thing! Do not drain any juices that start to develop.
- Transfer your eggs into a Ziploc bag or your container/jar of choice and put the eggs into the fridge. Within the first hour of being in the fridge, you’ll notice that the eggs are a little juicier. This is completely normal since the eggs will start to slowly reabsorb the juices after the first hour.
- After four to five hours, your eggs should be just about fully cured with no or very little juice remaining in the container. Any remaining juice will get absorbed in the container while the eggs sit longer.
- That’s it. Your trout and salmon candy is ready! The eggs should be plump, tacky, and very vibrant depending on the curing colour you have selected.
Wasn’t that simple? I successfully cure my eggs and tie spawn sacs all within a six-hour time period prior to getting out on the water. Fire Cure is a beautiful thing since cured eggs will last in the fridge for over a month, whereas fresh uncured roe unfortunately lasts about a week. It’s nice to not freeze and thaw roe if you are out on the water often. Just remember, if you don’t douse too much cure into your eggs, they will turn out perfect every time!
Happy Fishing! Bojangles
Editor’s Note: Bojangles is a fishing fanatic based in the GTA. He fishes more than he sleeps. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/angle_with_bojangles.