Pink Salmon, Sockeye, Canadians, and Cherry Jam

Spent a day canning about 30 pink salmon worth of fillets.  The fish came out great as the pinks were big and bright.  It kills me people who think they are “true Alaskans” turn their nose up at pink salmon.  The fish were bled and handled like king salmon and taste great.  I cut the fish into chunks when still semi frozen and packed the jars, which I realize now was not wise since some jars weren’t plumb full after the fish fully thawed but live and learn.  I also used reusable lids for the first time, and went through a little learning curve on those, too.  Did the canning on a single burner propane stove up in the garage, so didn’t even smell up the house.
Then Ron and  I went to Haines weekend before last. Up on Saturday, get off the ferry, hook up Roy’s boat, and head to the river.  We arrived at the river at 2 pm ish and had 30 sockeye by 530 or so.  Ron called it a day so we would not have to clean at night.  We got back to Roy’s, pressure-bled and cleaned the fish in about an hour as Ron and I have been doing this trip together now for 4 years or more so know the routine – including ordering pizza for dinner.  
Next day I got up pretty early eager to pick cherries.  Roy thought they were mostly past due, but they looked great to me.  I got out ladders and started picking cherries.  I think I got about 4 gallons of whole cherries.  I put them in a bag, and the bag in a box, and then used a hand pitter to pit them on the ferry ride home.  I figured nearly a 1:1 ration time for picking to pitting – 2 hours to pick and 2 hours to pit.  

I pureed them the next day, and then put them in the freezer as I wouldn’t have time to make jam for about a week.  My friend from the Peace Corps, Joe, came up from Smithers, BC, with his two children – aged 7 and 11.  Joe and his main squeeze came up to fish with me my first year on the Dutch Master, and I went down to their place a few times, but all before the kids.  So this was my first time to meet them.  I picked them up from the ferry and told them I’d been waiting their whole lives to meet them.  Could not have had 2 better-behaved kids.  No whining.  No crying.  No fighting.  They were up for doing anything we were doing, and never said “I’m bored” or “It’s raining” or “I don’t like that food”.  Not being used to kids around full-time, I had to explain that many of the words I said meant “happy”.  Kathryn said there sure were alot of words that meant “happy”.  

Could not catch them a fish or a legal crab.  We walked around Horse Island and they enjoyed tide pooling and exploring in general.  They loved the smoked salmon and deer kabobs and spaghetti with moose burger sauce. They swam at the pool while I delivered fish on Friday, then all 4 of us went for an open skate, and those kids looked like they were born with skates on their feet.  I was sad to put them on the ferry home.
After they left I pulled the cherries from the freezer to make jam.  Wish I’d had more rhubarb, but it’s late for that now.  Ron donated about 6 cups from his freezer.  I used 30 cups pureed cherries, 6 cups pureed rhubarb, 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar and 2 cups birch syrup, along with 10 packs of no-sugar pectin.  Set up pretty good, although not quite firm.  Might leave out the 2 cups of water next time if I use the birch syrup, and add another box or 2 of pectin.  Tastes great, though, and likely won’t last long, and handed out half pints to my coworkers yesterday.  With the jam and pink salmon jarred for the season, we’ll have plenty for the winter.  We’re off to a moose hunt near Juneau on Sunday, and hoping for some good weather and at least a look at one.

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