If It Crawls, It's Canned

Every year I spend about a month using a pressure canner to preserve the bounty of the backyard garden. That's child's play compared to the way Alaska residents do home canning. In a land where store-bought groceries can bankrupt you, the tradition is to shift the jar supply constantly to what's available or in season. Alaskans can everything from bear meat to mushrooms, stocking it away for future meals.

"If it stops crawling long enough, we'll put it in a jar," says Jon Rowan, a schoolteacher in the town of Klawock, on the island's west side.

Rowan hunts, harvests and cans nearly every sort of creature that lives in the diverse, rain-drenched ecosystem of the region. His cellar is crammed with hundreds of jars of salmon, halibut, rockfish, lingcod, deer and even seal, which Rowan can legally shoot because he — like many of the island's several thousand people — has Native American roots.

Seal blubber, Rowan says, is cooked for hours before going into the jar. It may be used for cooking or simply melted over rice — "kind of like how you use soy sauce at a Chinese restaurant," Rowan says.

The meat of local seals is also canned.

Read more about the serious business of Alaskan canning practices at NPR's The Salt blog. Link -via Digg

(Image credit: Alastair Bland/for NPR)

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Me ma is the only other person I know who has put up tomato juice. Says it's better than anything she ever bought. Don't think she does any more, not suffering from an excess of tomatoes. Maybe I'll give it try this year.

I make several jams and fruit butters, pestos (basil and mint), salsa, apple and pear sauces, pickles, sauerkraut, and this year I'll try making kimchee. Also made peach butter last week from a Pinterest recipe done in the crockpot. Took almost 24 hrs. and the results were worth it. This is a great way to go when you're loath to turn on your stove in the summer.
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