Preserving the catch

Classes cover the fine points of preserving the seafood and wild game bagged by local anglers, hunters
Bob Pennell illustrationBob Pennell illustrration

Almost as frequently as Margaret Crow and her husband land fish on summer trips to the South Coast, Crow fields questions about freezing, smoking and canning the catch.

In response, Crow papered businesses around Charleston last year with hundreds of Oregon State University Extension fliers about fish and seafood preservation. The topic also hooked Crow's fellow Master Food Preservers, who planned not one, but two, June classes for handling and processing fish.

If you go

What: "Preserving the Catch," classes with Oregon State University Master Food Preservers

When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 7 (Part 1), and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 21 (Part 2)

What: "The Buck (and Bull) Stops Here," wild game-preservation classes with Oregon State University Master Food Preservers

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sept. 6 (Part 1) and Sept. 13 (Part 2)

Where: 569 Hanley Road,

Central Point

Cost: $15 per class

To register: Call 541-776-7371

Information: See http://extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec

"There's got to be a way to get this knowledge to the public," says Crow, 56, of Grants Pass. "There isn't a lot of ways to find this stuff out."

The series, coupled with September sessions for handling and processing wild game, is a first for the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center in Central Point. Each class costs $15 and is suitable for both experts and novices.

A crash course in identifying various lake, river and ocean species kicks off Crow's June 7 workshop, along with discussion of Oregon fish and game regulations.

"People have a hard time interpreting them," says Crow.

Trout, steelhead, salmon, rockfish, tuna, crab and clams are Crow's primary focus. Demonstrating some Extension-approved recipes, Crow says she also will explain how to devise one's own recipes that still meet standards for food safety.

"Some fish require special handling, like tuna," says Crow. "If you don't handle it properly, it can make you sick."

Filling her freezer last year with 80 pounds of albacore fillets, Crow says she has developed a special method for wrapping fish to keep it freezer burn-free for a couple of years.

Smoking is another of Crow's specialties, with some techniques gleaned from a friend whose father owns an Alaska fishing lodge. Crow will bring her own smoker to class, weigh the pros and cons of several models and reveal how the right balance of salt and heat yields a gourmet treat.

"It makes wonderful gifts," she says of smoked fish.

The same sentiment speaks for De Davis-Guy's venison jerky. Her son, stationed with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, was disappointed to receive a gift of store-bought jerky instead of homemade. The switch, says Davis-Guy, was to safeguard his health.

"These always have to be frozen or refrigerated," she says, explaining that, lacking chemical preservatives, homemade jerky is never shelf-stable.

Pressure-canning does render both fish and game safe for storage at room temperature. Annual testing and inspection of pressure canners is available at Part 2 of the Extension's fish and game classes, June 21 and Sept. 13, respectively.

Pressure-canning, says Davis-Guy, also abates the threat of trichinosis, a parasite present in the meat of bears and feral pigs. Concerns over the rise of feral swine in Oregon also gave rise to concern among Master Food Preservers that hunters handle the meat, and other game carcasses, conscientiously, adds Davis-Guy, lead instructor for the Extension's Sept. 6 game-processing class.

"My family has always hunted," says Davis-Guy, 52, of Gold Hill. "There are a lot of people who have learned from family members."

Although there's value in traditional knowledge handed down from generation to generation, says Davis-Guy, newer information about bacteria, parasites and food-borne illness drives Extension recommendations. Her class will reinforce the importance of immediately dressing, cleaning, cooling and hanging game.

"It's a very labor-intensive job," she says. "Sometime you have to pull that animal uphill. People are usually exhausted at that point."

Despite the distance of their campsites to their meat processors, hunters should make every effort to deliver game to a walk-in freezer within 24 hours, says Davis-Guy. In a pinch, quartering a deer and keeping it on ice in a cooler will stall spoilage, provided hunters use some common sense.

"In October, it can be cool, or it can be 100 degrees," she says. "We would like people to be more aware and mindful."

Reach freelance writer Sarah Lemon at thewholedish@gmail.com.


Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.
COUPON OF THE WEEK