Cue Offenbach’s Orpheus In the Underworld, please . . . .
I had an excellent day fishing on Monday. While seeking out the sparse currant bushes that nestle against the cliffs on our homestead’s southern border, I realized that the set of the tide at that time created an excellent spot to fish from the rocks. In several places, the rock sloped gently down like a platform to meet the water’s edge. The southern point juts out farther into Lynn Canal than any other rocks on our property. It looked like a better place to cast for salmon than right in front of the cabin. I went home and gathered my fishing gear, then returned to try my luck.
I had good luck! In about a half hour I landed two nice pink salmon. The larger, at 26 inches, may be the largest pink I’ve ever caught.
The first fish accounted for dinner, the second one called for some decision-making. The best course would be to can the second salmon, but I was home alone—Michelle and Aly had gone to town to work.
I realized that if any canning took place that afternoon, it would fall to me.
I’ve been around canning all my life, and have often helped Michelle do it, but I had never canned anything on my own. But why couldn’t I take care of my catch myself? I knew we had plenty of instructions around, I knew where we store the equipment. I’d best get to work.
After butchering the salmon, I decided that about half the larger fish would make a feast for that night’s dinner, and provide plenty of leftovers for the next day. I steaked the other half and added it to the meat to be canned.
I worked steadily, and had the pint jars in the pressure cooker, steaming away by the time Michelle and Aly arrived home. I also had the salmon baking, and a big pot of rice cooking for the evening’s dinner. It required some juggling, but I managed on my own. By the end of dinner, I had six pints of pink salmon, canned for future meals long months in the future.
As far as any canner can tell, my efforts were completely successful. True, it would have been wiser to try canning something safer and simpler than fish for my first effort, but having started with one of the hardest and most critical foods, how could any other canning be more daunting?
It’s difficult to describe how this makes me feel. I am immensely satisfied with myself! I take great pride in catching fish, but now I’ve proven that I can process it as well. I’ve been quite happy to pass my catch on to Michelle to process, but now I’ve shown myself that I can handle that important job personally. This means that as I harvest salmon, I can store it for safe keeping as I go. This represents a level of self-sufficiency that I hope I’ll never have to use someday if I lose my help mate. But, should that happen, I will no longer feel at such as loss, at least as far as storing up fish is concerned.