About out of the pesto I made in 2017, so gathered up what I need for a new batch.
I used about 6 cups of raw fiddleheads, 3 cups of raw nettles and 4 cups of frozen blanched devils club buds, 1/4 (? – 6 to 8 oz?) pine nuts, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup lime juice, 3 tsp garlic powder, 3 tsp pepper, and several cranks of salt from the salt grinder thingy.
Steamed the nettles and fiddleheads, then dumped into a colander and ran cold water over them. Put the greens and nuts in the food processor little by little to finely grind it all, added the juices and spices to it all it a big bowl, then added olive oil til it was the right consistency.
This year, I’m gonna try to freeze it in the ice trays like I’ve seen online and then vacuum pack bags of a few cubes each.
Took my buddy Jeff bear hunting. He loves to eat black bear. I’ve eaten it, but never been interested in hunting for bear. I have been wanting to harvest some kelp to make relish, salsa and pickles. And especially after attending the kelp farming workshop this winter, I was armed with a lot more information on how kelp grows and this made me more enthusiastic to harvest some, which I’ve never done.
The weather has been hot, hot, hot. I used to say I never need it warmer than 70 degrees. Well, it’s 70 degrees. No I say, I never need it warmer than 60 degrees. We left on a bluebird day at 6 am with light winds and blue skies.
The spring bear hunting trips I’ve tagged along on in Southeast Alaska are pretty simple. You cruise the beaches looking for bears to be out eating the new grasses on the beach. South of Juneau, you travel on the waterways between primary land masses of the mainland and Admiralty Island. There are both black and brown bears on the mainland, and only brown bears on Admiralty Island. So we ran the mainland shore. We saw some killer whales at the mouth of the Taku River in Taku Inlet. We saw humpback whales a couple times down Stephens Passage. There were about 50 sea lions barking at each other on a haul out. Lots of cruiser boats were in Taku Harbor. We turned into Port Snettisham and found some beautiful coves. What a day.
We didn’t see any bears. We did pick bull kelp in a couple spots. This was my first time harvesting. In the second spot, the kelp had herring spawn on it. We each tried it, and then it was game on. One swath of spawn on kelp for the cooler, one to eat. One swath for the cooler, one to eat. I thought I was way over doing it but couldn’t help myself and we filled the cooler. I thought – I’m gonna regret this when I get home and have to process it all. It was all very exciting understanding what I was seeing on the kelp. The plants we were picking had grown all this mass since last fall, and the brown splotches on the fronds were the spores that are the seed that would eventually release to seed next year’s crop.
Turns out, what we harvested was just right. The processed kelp broke down to about 16 lbs of stipe, a 6 gallon bucket of naked frond, and 3 gallons of fronds with spawn. The stipes should make a batch each of relish, pickles, and salsa. I vac packed the spawn on kelp pieces. The naked fronds I hung in the garage to dry. I’ll plan to somehow pulverized the dried kelp to use later as a powder for seasoning.
We headed back down to the beach. The mountain greenery had exploded since being here just a few days earlier. We came across some skunk cabbage dug up by a smaller brown bear. It was one of the first times I’d actually seen the foot prints in the mud of these digs, as it was a recent dig and there had been no rain for a week. I wondered if this was the young brown bear that was terrorizing some residents of a nearby island with summer cabins. Not really for any bad deeds, but merely by it’s presence, much of which has been discovered on web cams. Bears have been coming and going from the island long before people put their cabins there, and long after the cabins were built, but were not under the modern surveillance, so they went unnoticed from the cabins that are used only part time by all but one of the island residents.