Sunday, September 27, 2009

More Moose

This is for those of you who are interested in that whole Moose-butchering-process thing. This is not for Kathy or Jules who think living off the land (hunting) is horrifying and shocking. Please skip this post if you don't like hunting.

To answer a few questions about the moose and its meat.
  • Yes, we eat it. All of it. The organs we don't eat like the kidneys, liver, and tongue go to friend of mine. She'll eat anything that comes out of a moose. She says it's delicious. Overall, it tastes kind of like deer with much less of the "deer taste". You wild game eaters will know what I mean. In fact, moose are just exceptionally big deer. For us, it's the same as beef without the hormones and chemicals.
  • I've never known anyone to save and tan the hide. I'm sure it can be done but the hair would certainly have to be taken off. It's rough and stringy and would certainly not be luxurious.
  • We also hunt grouse, ptarmigan, black bears, caribou and Sitka Black-tail Deer. The deer are small, like big dogs, and plentiful so the limit is pretty high. I think it's 5 per day per person. Most of the deer are found on islands in Cook Inlet.
  • Being born in Alaska, this time of year is filled with hunting and gathering. Alaska is different than more temperate places. We don't have different berries at different points in the summer. Because of the extremely short growth season things all ripen in a one month period. Hunting, gathering, and storing are all part of fall in Alaska.
  • We will turn this moose meat into steaks, sausage, hamburger, stew meat, and roasts. I will pressure cook the ribs so they are tender and then we'll freeze them. When we are ready for some BBQ ribs, we'll thaw them and stick them on the BBQ for a few minutes. I'll preserve some of the meat by corning it (my favorite!). I'll can some of it into BBQ "beef" sandwich meat and other quick meals.
  • Some of the bones and the lower jaw will be taken to my classroom so we can look at the joint articulations and anatomy. I have a tank of Dermestid beetles in my classroom. The kids love it.

This is to give you an idea of the size. I am standing next to a rear quarter. It weighs more than I do and it's almost as tall as I am. You can see some of the other quarters hanging next to me. You hang meat so that it will be tender when you eat it. There are still chemical reactions going on in the muscle even after the animal had died. The oxygen gets used up and that produces lactic acid. It hurts when it is in your own muscles but it helps break down tissue in a dead animal. If you left it this way for a long time it would rot, of course. We usually hang our meat for a few days but it really depends on the temperature. If it's hot, we don't hang it, we process it right away. Right now it is 45 degrees which is perfect hanging temperatures. He shot it on Friday so we'll probably start butchering it tomorrow.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was really interesting, thanks for sharing. Life is very very very different in the city. (But at least its warmer here!)

Rose said...

Thank you sharing for the information about preserving meat.

Rose <--off to heat a frozen dinner in the microwave. :)

Bunny said...

Thanks for this glimpse into your very interesting life.

becki-c said...

Hhmmm, didn't know that you could hunt bear, I thought that they were endangered. Very, very interesting. Does moose taste like deer?

A Sewn Wardrobe said...

Do the Alaskan newspapers post pictures of hunters and their catch in the sports section? My western-PA hometown does. Or on the front page if the buck had a lot of points...

Teddylyn said...

Very interesting! We don't hunt or want to, but there was a time when we gladly accepted venison from friends and neighbors who hunted in the eastern US. I learned that we liked the venison better when cooked with a high acid vegetable, like tomatoes. I made swiss steak, bar b que, etc. I appreciate the art of butchering as it makes the whole hunting process a worthwhile endeavor. Enjoy your specialties. I loved reading about the whole process!

Lynda in LY

redhotpepper said...

Dawn, kudos for you for taking the high road on the less than appreciative commenters.

I always say that I don't eat anything that filters or digests so those parts go elsewhere!

becki-c, brown bear and grizzly bear are not endangered. Bear meat can be rich so we usually mix it with something else and make it into pepper stick and salami type stuff. Moose tastes even better than deer!

We had a moose hide tanned and it turned out very soft. My hubby wasn't sure what to do with it so he traded to a guy he works with for some guidance on electrical work.

Hope I don't step on toes by answering questions.

Annie

Vicki said...

Wow..just like the olden days. And no wonder you look so fit and healthy - straight from the wild to your plate. And it must be a great cost saver too.

Heather said...

You only hang it a few days? The butcher hangs our beef for 1-2 weeks. But of course he has the locker for it. I have butchered before. It is a lot of hard work but the rewards are great.

neighbourhood.gal said...

That's fabulous! And HUGE. (When you only see pictures of something it's hard to have any perspective.)

Here in Vancouver we wouldn't have space to keep that much meat. We once bought 1/4 of a cow and it took up a huge portion of our chest freezer and lasted forever. Two years of eating, easily.

Absolutely fabulous.

HR said...

Don't know why people freak out over this sort of thing: good, you use the meat, almost all of it - not just a thrill seeker killing animals for fun! it actually has a purpose, what you do that is. Thanks for the info!

Tamara said...

Wow! You have a lot of work ahead. My neighbor spent all day last weekend butchering his moose. My son was fascinated watching from across the street. I wish my husband was a hunter. Moose meat is delish!

Joyce in NC said...

Dawn,
I reminds me of my younger days growing up on a farm in NC. We raised all of our food. I remember the hog butchering day was very similar to your experience. We grew all of our vegetables, churned our butter, milked the cows, feed the chickens, hogs and the mules. Tobacco was our cash crop. My family didn't smoke but it was pure gold for us. Thanks for reminding me of life on the farm.

meredithp said...

Dawn, this is so interesting, thanks. I'm not a hunter, but I certainly appreciate the fact that you use up all parts of this critter. And it's not endangered and you play by the rules. In my younger days, I would have been horrified, but I have matured (and I eat meat). I'm so glad we all don't have to go to the trouble that you do in getting our food :-)

meredithp said...

Oh, and I am so tickled by the contrast of "rendering" a moose, and sewing a Chanel jacket. You are a Renaissance woman!

Sally said...

Your posts never cease to be educational! Very interesting information, stuff I had no idea about. It sounds like a ton of work but well worth it. I don't know how you get all you do done in a day! You also never cease to be inspiring! Thanks for taking time out to share all that. And congratulations to your husband. My dad shot an elk once, and we ate that elk for a loooong time, but it was really good!

gatorgirl4325 said...

I love reading about your life in Alaska - thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

DANG, that's big. How do you pack it out? My sister in law hunts and got an elk a couple of years ago, and I thought THAT was big. The deer she can handle. They'd followed it pretty far in, because she won't shoot unless she's sure she can kill it instantly, and this one was wily. They had to hike out (I've forgotten how far, now, but far), then rent a team of horses. Luckily, the horses were up to the snow which had started to fall really hard and fast about as soon as they started to hike out. How long does the field dressing take you?

ch

vespabelle said...

My (Alaskan) husband bought a scooter that had the seat re-covered in moose hide.

It hadn't been properly processed so it was like a raw-hide dog chew and not something you'd want to sit on!

Jacqui said...

That thing is huge! I've only had elk before. But your post has made me hungry. =)

Lynn said...

Thanks. I loved this post.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely, interesting post and such a privilege to have an insight into your private life. I can see that you are completely in tune with your environment, hunting and consuming sustainably. Here in Australia, all our meat comes from the butcher's shop, although many indigenous Australians (Aborigines) hunt native animals using traditional methods. Cat1

Twelfthknit said...

Not that you need my approval (!!) but while I personally abhor hunting for 'fun', I think it is fine to hunt for food. I am totally amazed by the size of a moose quarter. I thought I 'knew' that they were big, but that photo really puts it into perspective.

Paige said...

I never thought that I'd find a blog that both my husband and I can enjoy! I am a big fan of yours--you inspire me. Loved your earlier gun comments -- We are hunters too.

Pam from Utah

Paige said...

I never thought that I'd find a blog that both my husband and I can enjoy! I am a big fan of yours--you inspire me. Loved your earlier gun comments also. We are hunters too.

Pam from Utah

meredithp said...

One more question...Do you do anything with the antlers? Or perhaps once you have one set over the fireplace...:-)

And the hide, seems like there would be a purse in the future? I assume that you could send the skins out for some sort of "processing"? I'm such a city girl :-)

laura said...

That is one big animal! I've always eaten game and can't understand why some people are so squeamish about it. I'd love to know where A Sewn Wardrobe is from. Her western PA hometown could be my old hometown!! Really.

Kathi said...

Interesting about the taste. My husband is a hunter, but he doesn't really like the taste of venison. He has several friends who love it, so he gives the deer to them each year. I love mixing ground venison with sausage in chili. The taste has never bothered me. We have tried goose he brought home, but I thought that had too much of the gamey taste. Again, he knows plenty of people who want and need the meat.
What an interesting post to follow your Chanel jacket one!!!!

Connie b said...

Jeepers, it makes the kidney bean harvesting post that I was going to do in the next day or so seem sooo boring. Kidney beans are so much easier to shoot! Great post Dawn. Love the juxtapostion of Chanel and Moose!

amber said...

See, you really do learn something new everyday! Thank you for this very interesting and informative post. I think this is partially why the blogosphere is so interesting to me - you meet people and learn about things that you'd never encounter in your daily life. :)

gaylen said...

I think it's very interesting. While I don't hunt, I don't have any issue with people who hunt to feed their family and you are using every part of the animal. I have to admire that. I think it's much more humane to shoot a moose than drive to the grocery store and purchase cow or pig.

I would love to see a live moose and someday will get brave enough to taste it. g

Mountain Thyme said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jami said...

Dawn, hope you enjoy the moose meals ahead of you. Thanks for sharing the pics and such. I have not eaten moose yet but do eat lots of other game and of course what we grow here on our farm in Washington state. My only trail crossing with a moose was once while laying on my horse grazing in a field in N. Idaho she spooked, I fell off and there looking down my nose was a big ol' moose! Liked to scared me to death. It ran and so did I and my horse, all different directions!
Jami in WA

Vinnie Toscadero said...

Do you happen to have a favourite sausage recipe?

Elbee said...

So interesting Dawn. Thanks for sharing. My 9 year old would love to live with you! She swears she should have been born Laura Ingalls LOL. Your hair got long so fast!

Addie Marie said...

Hi there! I just stumbled upon your blog & had to comment--congrats on getting a moose! Here in Minnesota, you can only get a moose license once, but my family is fortunate enough to be called by the DNR to butcher roadkill moose every couple of years or so. I believe it's the best tasting game out there, (& of course, it definitely fills your freezer!) so I completely understand your excitement. :)

You're also an exquisite & talented seamstress! I'm excited to have found your blog.