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Food Preservation

1 September 2010

By Shannon Judd

Dagwaagin (Fall) is a time for harvesting miijiman (food) and preparing for the long northern biboon (winter).  Before electricity and grocery stores, food preservation methods were essential to winter survival.

Canning and freezing often come to mind when thinking of food preservation, but other techniques commonly used include:  drying, gaaskizan (smoking), salting, and cold storage.

Drying is an ancient method of preservation and a good technique to use for wiiyaas (meat), giigoonhyag (fish), fruits, herbs and wazh-ashkwedoonsag (mushrooms).  Vegetables tend to lose their flavor and nutrition content if dried.  Traditionally, food would be laid out in the sun or over a fire to dry.  Another method, salting, provides protection from many bacteria, which cannot survive the high salt environment.  Though typically used for wiiyaas, salt can be used on herbs and vegetables.  One disadvantage is most of the salt should be removed before eating to avoid consuming excessive sodium.

Finally, cold storage is time-honored, even without a refrigerator. Some foods can be stored in the ground, provided there is some insulation, such as straw or mulch, to protect against severe cold and frost.

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