Homemade Fish Hydrolysate (Liquid Fish)

We have a running joke with our Friend A. where every time we are doing something he finds to be crazy, but secretly thinks is amazing (my interpretation) he says, "That's so Permaculture" in a slightly accusatory tone. We laugh at how crazy some things we do sound and move on. This is near the top of our list of crazy (awesome) so far.

As backstory, we traded part of a pig this last year to some other friends A. and T. T. is a fisherman so the deal was sweet with fresh caught NW salmon. I asked for the carcasses since he had no use for them with dreams of making fish hydrolysate.

Fish hydrolysate is basically fish emulsion that isn't heat treated. The science nerds can read more about it here. By naturally fermenting, you keep it teeming with microbial life and maintain the fats, which are both very important for soil and plant health when used on the farm. 

So after finally catching a free moment this winter, I made a lacto-bacilli culture, blended up the fish, added sugar and water and put a large, repurposed beer fermenter full of the stuff in the attic room for a few months.

Why in the house you ask? Didn't it smell you ask? Didn't Tavish try to devour it you ask? A resounding yes, but alas, it was too cold outside to keep the fermentation going, so we just avoided that room until the bacteria did its magic and the smell went away. That took about six weeks. It would have been faster in warmer weather. 

So here we are, with roughly 7 gallons of fish hydrolysate. With a dilution rate of 2 T. per gallon of water that is a pretty epic amount of liquid fish to spray on our pasture, orchard, gardens, and wherever else we want to encourage the life in the soil.

If you are interested in trying this out for yourself, we followed the recipe and instructions from Gil and Patrick over at  The Unconventional Farmer.