Monday, June 15, 2009

Working on Ugruk, Part 1


So as I said before, Maija and I spent the day working on Ugruk. See previous post if you don't know what an Ugruk is. This is not a post for the squeamish, so if you are and you choose to continue reading that's your own fault. Maija has a post about our day also.

Ugruk, like walrus, have whiskers that are very stiff. They are almost like long strips of fingernail like stuff.

They also have long sharp claws for scratching on ice.

This is the meat shed over at Maija's where we will hang the meat after we cut it.

First you have to separate the blubber and skin from the meat. You need to cut around the head, flippers, and back legs and all the way down the front from neck to back legs.

Then you remove the blubber and skin from the meat. You don't want to leave blubber on your meat and you don't want meat on your blubber so you gotta be careful.

Here's my Alaska pedicure. No I didn't cut myself. I accidentally stepped in the carnage.

As you can see here we have removed the blubber and skin.

Here is the blubber. It still has bits of meat attached to it.

It is important to cut all the meat off the blubber. If you leave meat on there it make the seal oil funny. Taking the meat off the blubber is a crappy job so we make the kids and the inexperienced do it. That meant it was left to Zack...

...Elsa and Maddie.

So while those three are schlepping over the blubber Maija and I are cutting slabs of meat off the carcass.

Then we cut the slabs into large strips and hang them in the shed. We will let them dry a bit and cut them down smaller each day until they are the size and dryness that we want.

Here is the stripped meat hanging in the shed. We spread stinkweed on the floor to keep in fresh in there.

Here's a close up shot of the strips.

While we were working we threw a pot of meat, blubber and ingaloks (intestines) on the camp stove to boil.


Here are the ribs and the back legs hanging in the shed. We will take care of them tomorrow. Tomorrow I will teach you how to make seal oil.



Anonymous said...

you are quite the alaska gal--I bet peta people are not in your date book---

Anonymous said...

Hey, I sported that same sort of pedicure on my sneakers when I slipped in the boat with all the caribou blood. It made me feel truly initiated!!
I want a seal claw...


AussieAlaskan said...

Sooo interesting, Cathy!! How was the seal killed? Is this the season for hunting or was this a one off for whatever reason? Once the meat is dry, I assume it can then be stored for a long time without any other preparation until you decide to cook it. And, can it also be eaten just as is, like jerky? Does the fresh meat take a long time to cook and is it tender or chewy? AussieAlaskan

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why PETA would care (previous comment)? I bet they eat meat. Cows wouldn't look any different when they're being butchered. People are so removed from their food down South. So easy for them to pick up a nice neat white package at Safeway and not think about it was a living animal.

Thanks so much for the pictures. It's really interesting seeing how seals are butchered for food and oil.

I've spent over 30 years in southeast Alaska, but have never gotten to see a seal butchered.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure no one from PETA eats meat...
but they sure can make some pretty obscene commercials doing some pretty obscene things with vegetables...

Anonymous said...

I love this! Please continue posting your pictures and explanations

Rocksee said...

I learn so much here!!

Finnskimo said... kunnychuck smells like Ugruk Essence! :) MMmmmm.

Even though its Monday, I'm not complaining!

PS, I forgot how to embed your blog onto your I just typed it out! :)

Lisa said...

Wow, very cool blog today. I love the things I am learning.

Trish said...

oh man, I can't believe I missed the oppurtunity to remove seal meat from the blubber with Zach!

i am so bummed, honestly. However, I am NOT jealous of that alaskan pedicure!