How to prepare your own fresh tuna in oil

Tuna in oil: To prepare tuna in oil you must first have fresh tuna. Once you have prepared it, it will be ready in 3 months for you to add to salads or pasta.

Tuna in oil is a typical product of the little Italian island of Ponza. The Alagonga tuna are highly prices for preserving in oil because of its light flesh and they are fished during the months of May through to the end of July. So while I was on Ponza, I had the experience of watching Ada prepare her own and recorded it with a few photographs for you.

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Typically, tuna in oil is prepared in large quantities. It is cut into hand-size pieces and immersed in boiling, salted water for up to 3 hours. It is drained, boned and left to dry on cloth for hours. Ada prepares up to 20 jars of tuna in oil at a time. It is a huge job! Cooking the tuna alone takes up to 3 hours but here, we have reduced the recipe to be more manageable for you.


  • 800 grams piece of fresh tuna, boneless and skinless
  • 50 grams salt
  • 4 – 6 bay leaves
  • Enough vegetable oil to cover the tuna
  1. Clean the tuna in water to remove any blood and change the water until it runs clear.
  2. Place the tuna into a saucepan, cover with water and the salt. Bring it to a boil then reduce to simmer and allow the tuna to cook for 1 hour.
  3. Drain the tuna in a colander inside a bowl deep enough for the excess dripping water not to touch the tuna. The tuna will need to drain for up to 24 hours until all of the moisture has been removed and the tuna is completely dry.
  4. Sterilize your jars and lids and ensure that they are completely dry.
  5. Cut the tuna into manageable pieces and pack them tightly into the jars.
  6. Pour the oil into the jars until the tuna is completely covered. You will need to top them up as the tuna begins to absorb the oil, so take you time and ensure that the tuna is covered in the oil before closing the lids tightly.
  7. Place jars into a saucepan filled with enough water to cover the jars 2/3rds of the way up.
  8. Bring the water to a boil and then light simmer, for 45 minutes to create a vacuum.
  9. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the jars in the water until it has cooled.
  10. Store your tuna in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months before opening.
tuna in oil 2
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