A meandering blog with no clear topic. You will find me talking about knitting, building, kids, social and economic issues, Alaska, and lots of other stuff.

Monday, August 2, 2010


So, James and Ryan went dipnetting yesterday. They brought home 48 salmon. A few we filleted, but most of them get canned:

That is the first couple batches, 34 pint jars of fish. There are another 24 jars in the canners as I type. Plus, about 15 more fish are temporarily stored in the freezer at a friend's house.

The job of gutting and cutting the heads off the fish was done by the boys. Then I took over. The fish got chopped into jar-sized lengths, soaked in brine for an hour, put in jars, then put in the canners. The canners take time to build up the necessary 10 lbs of pressure, then that pressure has to be maintained for an hour and 40 minutes. Then the stove gets turned off, and everything just sits until the pressure drops back down. Then the canners can be opened, the jars removed, and the next batch goes in.

Sounds simple, and it isn't terribly complicated, but it's a lot of work. Each batch takes about 5 hours, start to finish. While the canners are going, they have to be closely monitored to keep the pressure even. It's a lot of standing, a lot of slimy, nasty work. And the whole house smells like fish for days afterwards. A lot of propane to run the stove for hours at a time.

But, oh, it is so worth it! For lunch today, we opened a jar and made salmon sandwiches, with onions from my garden, and relish I made last summer. It beats tuna fish without even trying.

And even though I know we had to buy the jars and lids, and the propane to run the stove, and the gas to get to the river, it makes me feel a little bit more self-sufficient to do this.

We could have got even more fish. The limit for a family of 6 is 75 fish, and we only caught 48, just because James felt like that was plenty for now. Now that we have a system down, we may get our limit next year. We may try smoking them next year too.