Pike as a food product

It doesn't happen often, that the fish abundant in natural waters is one of the most valuable and most sought after on the market. This is what makes biological productivity to coincide with the interests of consumers, that pike has come to the top of the list comparing the share of individual species in the total value of the annual catch of our lake fish, although in terms of weight it is significantly inferior to roach and bream. Highly rated taste values ​​are not the only reason for marketability and high demand - also on foreign markets - thanks to which pike is included in the group of export fish. They are important too: meat quality, containing little fat and therefore valued as a dietary item, high content of easily digestible protein (table) and body structure and consistency, perfectly adapted to technological processing.

TABLE. Chemical composition of pike meat (w %) (according to Klejmienow,1952).

Area Water Proteins Fats Substances

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Aralski 80,9 18,8 1,0 1,0
Caspian 79,0 19,0 0,5 1,5
Siberian 78,4—79,4 18,7—19,0 0,1—1,2 1,0—1,3

The second of the listed advantages makes, that pike is one of the most popular objects in the fish delicatessen and processing industry, because it ensures high efficiency of production processes.

However, maintaining high-quality meat is - as with other fish species - difficult due to the rapidly progressing decomposition processes. Hence the need to exercise extreme caution, especially in the most critical period - between the catch and the delivery of the fish to the recipient. Pike - provided it has adequate oxygen conditions - tolerates keeping and transport alive well. Both in dreadlocks, however, the stocking must not be overcrowded, and be careful with all manipulations, so that the fish are not damaged. When the lack of appropriate equipment makes it impossible to keep the pike live, you have to cool them with finely crushed ice immediately after catching them, placing them side by side in the boxes with their backs down and head towards the walls. The generally recommended rules for absolute cleanliness apply, preventing mechanical injuries and ensuring quick sales.

The quality of the dead pike is assessed organoleptically; the appearance is taken into account, texture and smell. They testify to the freshness of the raw material: bulge of the eyes, corneal transparency, natural color of the skin and bright red gill petals, meat firmness in the post-mortem concentration state and no unpleasant smell of skin and gills. The contours of the internal organs are then clearly outlined, inner membranes intact by the autolysis process; only a small bile spot may be visible on the right abdominal lobe at the site of contact with the gallbladder. On the other hand, signs of deteriorating quality of dead pike are: corneal matting, signs of skin dryness, red-gray or brown color of the gills, covered with matte mucus, finger pressure on the back muscles, weakened bond of meat to the skeleton, the acidic smell of the gills, skin and internal organs, outlines that lose their clear outline, loosening of the muscle tissue in the abdominal lobes and an enlarged bile patch. Relaxed criteria are used to assess the condition of frozen pike, which are of the highest quality, include fish with slightly popped eyes and a slightly dull cornea, with more reddened gills, with traces of cloudy mucus on the skin and gills, with slight pressure ulcers and less firm meat.

Regardless of the state of freshness, the lower classes include pike caught right after grated - due to their worse condition - and large ones, weighing over 3 kg, constitute a less valuable assortment, because the taste of meat deteriorates significantly with age.

The center of the most intense decomposition of the body of a fish is primarily the digestive tract - a habitat of bacteria attacking the delicate tissues of neighboring organs. Thus, the removal of the guts leads to a slower pace of putrid and autolytic processes, so that gutted fish can be stored longer in the cold store without fear of lowering the quality.

Drawing. Gutting of pike in the Fish Headquarters (photo. J. Waluga).

During the gutting process, it is also possible to select the raw material more precisely according to quality standards, which is especially important in production for export. Weight losses of gutted pikes are relatively small, but they show significant fluctuations over the year (table) due to the state of development of the gonads and changes in the intensity of foraging.

TABLE. Seasonal changes in the yield of raw material for gutting pike (according to Dąbrowski and S Pałacki, 1965).

Month

Weight of gutted fish in kg

0,5-1

1-3

more than 3

raw material efficiency w %

I

81,3 79,6 78,4

II

80,5 79,2 77,5
III 81,6 77,6

77,6

IV 85,9 85,1

81,0

V

88,0 87,3 84,8
WE 88,7 88,0

86,1

VII

89,4 88,8 86,6

VIII

89,1 88,0

86,8

IX

88,8 87,1

85,6

X

86,6 86,5

85,8

XI

84,3 83,9

82,3

XII 82,6 82,3

79,3

Annual average: 85,6 84,5

82,7

The roe obtained during this treatment can be used as a very valuable food product, high protein content (27% according to Klejmienow, 1952). Research by Dąbrowski and S Pałacki (1965) over the efficiency of the spawning process (table) made it possible to estimate the reserves of this product at approx 50 tons per year.

TABLE. Percentage by weight of eggs, obtained in the third decade of April, in the total body weight of different size groups of pikes from the lakes of the Olsztyn province (according to Dąbrowski and S Pałacki, 1965).

Fish weight in kg Abundance

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The weight of the gonads in % body weight
fluctuation range average
0,3—0,5 10 16,24—22,94 18,21
0,5—1,0 16 16,91—25,10 18,92
1,0—1,5 12 17,46—28,76 20,51
1,5—2,0 14 16,14—26,04 21,84
2,0—2,5 16 17,87—29,92 24,25
2,5—3,0 20 18,03—30,49 25,43
3,0—3,5 15 21,12—27,00 22,22
3,5-4,0 10 19,00—25,15 20,61
4,0—4,5 9 18,05—23,82 19,10
4,5—5,0 7 17,15—22,27 18,83
5,0—7,0 8 17,20—22,90 18,48
Overall: 19,65

 

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