There are many health benefits gained by those who eat locally sourced foods. On Prince of Wales Island, there are three amazing sources of nutrient rich food which are commonly found in the kitchens of residents: salmon, kelp, and berries. Below is information about the health benefits and popular ways to prepare them for the table.
Kalbi Marinated Smoked Salmon
Salmon is a staple food on Prince of Wales Island due to its abundance in the local waters and its health benefits. It is an oily-fish which is recommended for at least one meal per week. It is high in protein and healthy omega-3 fats, B-vitamins, selenium and vitamin-D. Especially in the winter when the days are shorter, salmon provides the nutrients we need for extra energy.
A wonderful way to enjoy salmon is smoked. First the salmon is marinated or cured in a brine, then dried, and then smoked. There are many different recipes available online for smoking salmon, but my favorite by far is this kalbi-style smoked salmon.
Sweet or Sour Pickled Bull Kelp
Bull-whip kelp is harvested in the spring and early summer and grows best in channels of swiftly flowing ocean currents. The entire plant is edible from the long, billowing fronds to the hollow, whip-like stem. Kelp is a great source of fiber which is low in fat, has moderate amounts of protein and is high in potassium, sodium, iodine and magnesium.
The best way to prepare bull-kelp is to dry the fronds for use as seasoning in replacement of salt, and then slicing the stem into rings and pickling. The best recipes for pickling can be found in the bull-whip kelp pamphlet published by the University of Alaska Fairbanks
Slow-Cooked Berry and Spice Spread
Berries are abundant in the summer and fall, and there are a large variety of berries that grow on Prince of Wales Island. The most commonly found include salmonberries, red huckleberries, blueberries (technically blue huckleberries), thimbleberries, black currants, high-bush cranberries, wild strawberries, and gooseberries. All berries are fairly comparable in their nutritional value, which includes being high in antioxidants and fiber, improving blood-sugar and insulin response, reducing inflammation, and lowering cholesterol. They are also high in vitamins such as vitamin-C, manganese, vitamin-K, copper, and folate.
Many times berries are made into jams, jellies and syrups which are extremely high in sugar. Unfortunately, this essentially nullifies the nutritional value of the berries. Because of this, my favorite way to prepare berries is to put them in the slow cooker with a combination of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, all-spice, and cardamom. Once they've cooked down, you'll be left with a delicious spread which can be enjoyed on toast, ice cream, and whatever else calls for a dollop of spiced berries. If the berries are still a little tart after reducing, add just enough honey or agave syrup to sweeten to your individual taste preference.
Subsisting off the Land for Better Health
Many residents of Prince of Wales Island take great pride in their ability to provide for their families by hunting, fishing, gathering, and preserving food to fill their freezers and pantries. This way of life has a low impact on the environment and is much healthier than what is available commercially. If you come for a visit, be sure to befriend a local and learn about their favorite foods!