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.