They went low tec, a good pressure cooker with the weights sitting over the relief valve. The week was permeated by the staccatto "ch-t-ch-t-ch-t-ch" as the weights bobbled atop the outlet, ensuring each batch was cooking just right. I would stare at them for ages while everything else happened around me.
The rest of the house was in a flurry: Dad gutting, cleaning and butchering fish after fish after fish, Both my Mum and Dad cleaning all the jars, preparing them and packing them with salmon, Mum manning the canner making sure it got up to temperature and stayed there for the right amount of time and making sure the weights were right and that the steady "ch-t-ch-t-ch-t-ch" droned on. After everything colded down and dried off, they labeled them and packed it up in the Boxes from the canning jars. Half for Michel, half for us.
Of course, a few would be set aside for different preparations. Some years we would smoke some. We would always cook up one or two while they were fresh. Often baked in the oven with just some lemon juice. Usually one of the lovely big Sockeyes. Just delicious. If we were really lucky, Michel or my parents would have bought some crab or some prawns down at the docks to accompany the salmon. My second favourite memory of eating crab.
We ate canned salmon for years. I think my parents still have some. The awesome thing is, canned salmon ages like a good wine. My dad always rooted around to find one at least 10 years old if he could. He built most of our ski cabin on canned salmon, I think. He'd disappear for he day with a loaf of bread and a can of salmon, and that would last him until he got home late that night. You don't need any butter, you can just drizzle some of the oil from the jar onto the bread. The best thing was, you don't have to worry about the bones. The heat and pressure rendered them brittle. You could bite down on a whole vertebrae and it would crumble between your teeth. I didn't really like the texture though, so I still picked out the bones.
It really was delicious. I wish I'd been more appreciative of it when I was a kid.
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