The Roundup -

Roth Family Lives for Paddlefish Season


Tuesday, May 28th was a good paddlefishing day for the Roth family. Pictured here are Ilene’s relations with their catches for the day: (L to R) DJ Roth, Adam Knudson (boyfriend of granddaughter, Roxann), Lacy Churchill (granddaughter), Lacy’s son Cheldon (great grandson), Roxann Roth (granddaughter) and her daughter Kaylynn (great granddaughter). (Photo submitted by Lacy Churchill)

Many things can bring a family together. For the Roth family that thing is paddlefish season. Ilene Roth of Sidney, has been grilling and pickling paddlefish for as long as she can remember.

Although she says the paddlefish are very good grilled, Ilene prefers to pickle them. She explained that paddlefish are perfect for pickling because they don’t have any bones, so you don’t have to wait for the bones to soften.

She says it’s an easy process; it just takes a little patience.

The very first step is to cut the paddlefish meat into pieces. The next step is to soak the meat in 1 cup salt to 4 cups water for 48 hours. After soaking, rinse the meat and then soak in white vinegar for another 48 hours.

To start the pickling process, cook up the brine. Ilene’s recipe calls for 4 cups white vinegar, 2 cups sugar, 4 bay leaves and 2 teaspoons of pickling spice. Boil brine for about 5 minutes, let cool and then add 3 tablespoons lemon juice. To prepare the meat for the pickling process, dice it up into serving size pieces. Using a gallon jar, Ilene then layers fish meat with cut up onions before pouring the brine over the fish. After waiting about a week, the fish will be ready to eat.

Ilene used to rely on her brother to catch her paddlefish to pickle, but now she has 7 kids, 19 grandkids and 6 great grandkids who help provide the meat. Ilene stated, “They have to gut it, but I’ll cut it up.”

Luckily for her family, that is not all she makes. Ilene has been selling her baked goods for 22 years at Sidney’s farmers market.

Known for her caramel rolls, Ilene also makes jellies, syrups and homemade wine amongst many other dishes. Along with rhubarb, grapes, strawberries and apples, Ilene goes through a lot of sugar, cream cheese, sour cream and eggs.

Ilene Roth proudly displays a blown up picture of her son Rodney with his paddlefish he caught last year.

So much so that she buys it by the case and uses three fridges at her home.

As a matter of fact, she recalls a time when sugar was on sale and she bought about 100 pounds of it. At almost 74 years old, Ilene has many tricks up her sleeve. One of her tips she disclosed was how to make eggs last longer. She says that flipping eggs over every couple days will keep them good. When you buy cases at a time that is an important tip to have.

Although paddlefish is the preferred item to be cooking up, Ilene enjoys making about anything you can think of, which is evident once she starts talking about her various creations. Once the Sidney Farmer’s Market starts up later this summer find Ilene and get some of her famous caramel rolls.


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