Saturday, February 16, 2008

Out, Damned Moth!

Disaster has struck: those pesky kitchen cupboard moths—you know, the little brown ones always flying out of cereal boxes—busted into my double-zipped gallon bag of dried morels picked at last year's Tripod burn. They made a mess of things. Silk everywhere. Larvae inching around. Morels in tatters. I salvaged what I could, but several meal's worth had to be chucked. Luckily I have more bags, like the one pictured above, but still.

I've made some inquiries and will be purchasing large glass mason jars with rubber gaskets and clamps, asap—a purchase I've been meaning to make for years and will finally get around to now that it's too late, kinda like legislation to prevent mortgage foreclosure.

Food storage is of paramount importance to the forager. I've got a standup freezer that I picked up for zero dollars (the guy just wanted it out of his garage). Right now it's filled with smoked salmon and shad, pink salmon fillets, shad fillets, shad roe, razor clams, squid, fish stock, chanterelle mushrooms, hedgehog mushrooms, and a bunch of other things. It was perfect for the quarter organic cow I bought from Skagit River Ranch a couple years ago. If I was a hunter, with birds, deer, and elk to store, I'd need another freezer, but this one will do for now even though it's a bit dinged up and needs to be defrosted every few months.

A vacuum-sealer like the FoodSaver is another key part of the equation. Air, with its free-floating microbes waiting to feast on whatever they can get their grubby claws into, is the enemy. Fish fillets can last for months if vacuum-sealed (although they're best when used within three months) while mushrooms...let's just say I'm still working through chanties with '06 on the label.

I get a nice warm feeling when the wild food processing is just about complete and it's time to break out the vacuum-sealer. Labeling the bags with a laundry pen (species, date, harvest location) brings me back to the pleasure of the foraging itself. Dividing up the food into bags makes me think ahead to all the cooking I'll do. Then, watching the air get sucked out of the bags as the plastic tightens and forms around my catch is a strangely satisfying exclamation on the day. It's usually late at night by now: time to arrange the food parcels in the freezer and go to bed, knowing an abundance of food gathered and caught with my own hands awaits.

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Did I write that last paragraph? That was a few hours ago. In retrospect even I have to wonder what sort of fungi I'm putting up.

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