preserving food in wet environment without clay?

Abo Hunting, Tracking, Trapping, Scavenging, & Abo Fishing; Processing & Curing Meat; Cooking Wild Meat

preserving food in wet environment without clay?

Registered User
Joined: 13 May 2011, 10:11

12 Oct 2017, 13:37 #1

I have been watching a show from History channel called "Alone". I've watched seasons 1,2,3 and 4. It is basically a reality about alone individuals in Vancouver Island or Patagonia, which seem to be quite damp environments.

Some of the people in the show seem to be getting some days more fish than they can eat. Then i was wondering: in such a humid environment, how could you preserve food? One guy was drying fish file and keeping them just in an open bucket.

Drying / smoking could be one option, but the dried/smoked fish would have to be kept in some kind of watertight container, so it wouldnt rehidrate with moisture in the air. And maybe setting up the infrastructure and big ammounts of firewood needed for high temperature pottery (clay becomes watertight from about 800 degrees Celsius, as i have read), would be a serious energy-consuming endeavour.

I thought, maybe making pine pitch lined baskets could do the trick. It seems some of the participants in the show had plenty of free time that could have been used for making baskets and collecting pitch. BTW, how tight should a weave be for holding the pitch and not needing a lot of it?
I guess coiled or twined grass would be first choices?
Maybe packing the dried fish with something that would absorve moisture but not release it? Kind of like keeping some rice in the salt shaker.

I have been thinking about this for many days and i can not come up with anything else. I would be really happy if anyone could enlighten me with any other posibility.

Thanks for reading my post, I'm very sorry for my awful English.

Registered User
Joined: 13 May 2011, 10:11

12 Oct 2017, 13:38 #2

In case somebody was wondering, i do not intend to participate in any show

Registered User
Joined: 22 Jun 2006, 08:25

12 Oct 2017, 16:21 #3

Nothing at all wrong with your english galgo.... and welcome to the Planet.  I do know that in Alaska ..they dry fish under a roof of some kind..tarp, wood... whatever will keep the rain off ...with a smoky fire going. For human consumption after the fish are dried & they are stored in buckets or barrels to keep dry or inside somehwere....maybe hanging in a lodge which might be somewhat smoky. For dogs they are stored outside....hanging in a wooden structure with open sides for air circulation. But it has a roof. In a really wet climate that might be a problem.But I have heard one of the men comment on keeping, red meat....etc...say....sometimes conditions and hunting are not good and they had been known to cut mold off the outside of meat etc...and eat it. Not the best condions certainly..but they survived. Rawhide what were used historically on the days plastic buckets with lids. Quills
" You can't stop the waves .... but, you can learn to surf."

Robson Valley
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Joined: 24 Apr 2015, 00:27

14 Oct 2017, 06:24 #4

I live in the Pacific Northwest.  Used to live much closer to the coast. 
Smoking and drying for fish, even clams and mussels threaded on long cords, is still common practice.
Haida, Tlingit and Timshian smoke houses are huge affairs and very dry inside with even small but smoky fires. 
Big enough for hundreds of salmon at a time.  Kwakwaka'Wakw (mid coast) are the same.
Small fire, less smoke, dry all the same.  Just leave the fish in the warm smoke house until needed.

There's not as much "big game" on the coast as you might imagine. 
Animals like deer & moose used to be uncommon in the closed-canopy cedar forests.
The Columbia Blacktail deer were intorduced to Haida Gwaii.
They have screwed over the ecology so badly that there's a modern effort to eradicate the "forest rats."

When you look at old photographs of the villages, say, 1900 or so, you see how the houses are all constructed of split cedar planking.
They are very dry and warm inside with the hardest of coastal rains and a small fire.

The storage containers are the kerf-bent boxes.  We just call them bent-wood boxes.  Things go stinky in there without ventilation.
I know 10 different corners and I can cut an under-cut corner in a 6" wide cedar board in about 20 minutes. 
Very hard to steam unless the wood was split correctly.

I'm not First Nations.  I grew up in it, sort of. 
My grandpa was a cedar boat builder that the Salish often came to the house to visit.