Saturday, September 03, 2005

Mussel mania

Demand has been massive and we are expecting to meet it at both home and abroad.”
Over half of all Scottish mussels harvested come from SSMG, who have increased production from 1,500 tonnes to over 2,100 tonnes this year to meet market demand.

This article reminded me of an evening adventure rowing after work at the cannery in Petersburg. The tide was ebbing out the Narrows into Frederick Sound, and it was a calm, sunny evening. I took the 12 foot, double-end rowboat and set out across the Sound. The only interruptions to a magnificent wilderness experience was a big gas turbine yacht firing up and smoking out of a position right on my course. And a helicopter putting up a microwave repeater on top of Horn Cliffs.

I was fixing to row the seven miles across the Sound to the Mainland and then back before dark. However I stopped at McDonald Island, half a mile short of saying I rowed all the way across the Sound. I beached the boat and noticed I was facing a vast bed of mussels.

They were good sizers too. I had never had a mussel feed and these looked like likely candidates.
I gathered a bucket full, hoping red tide organisms weren't too prevalent around the island. I didn't think so, since it was only 15 miles or so from the mouth of the Stikine river. Too much fresh water I reasoned. Then it was back across the Sound and a waiting steaming pot.

Those were first class mussels, and I may not ever order mussels in a restraunt that can't guarantee that freshness. I got a little spoiled on that quality I know. I've had others that were pretty good. They have a delicate texture and flavor and are highly eatable.

Not sure what it would take to raise and market mussels in Alaska, but Alaskans are highly protective of their pristine bays and inlets. It's one of the great natural resources of that country. A lot of floating mussel farms might not be too welcome, and harvesting them off the beach would require daily testing by the State lab in Palmer for PSP, a LONG ways away.

But it was a lot of fun going out for them, and a real tasty treat in the final analysis. So for now, I guess the U.S. market will have to wait some more for Alaskan mussels. Maybe the political winds might shift soon, who knows


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