Today is World Day for Cultural Diversity and we’re so excited to celebrate the richness different cultures bring to our lives. Thanks to cultural diversity, we’ve been able to innovate and progress as a species. Sharing information, discoveries, and traditions makes it possible for us to significantly improve our lives. Take food preservation, for example. Drying, smoking, pickling, freezing, and canning are all effective methods to preserve fresh foods and they all have different cultural roots. More importantly, all of these methods have been used in different regions around the world to preserve one of our favourite things: salmon. Let’s explore some popular ways of preserving food and their origins.
Perhaps not surprisingly, drying fresh foods was a popular preservation method in regions that got a lot of warm sunlight. In Italy for example, drying fruit, vegetables, and fish in the hot Mediterranean sun was, and continues to be, a popular way to preserve them. Regions with large salt deposits often combined salting with drying when preserving meat and fish, as it helped extract moisture speeding up the drying process. Today, drying is possible in any climate, thanks to dehydrators.
Dating back to cave dwellers, smoking has a long history in food preservation. It’s assumed that this method was discovered accidentally when early cave dwellers hung food in the caves where they made fires for warmth. More recently, this method has important roots in European and Native American cultures, who smoked meat and fish, like salmon. As with drying, salt is often used to cure meats before they are smoked.
Dating back 3,000 to India, pickling uses a vinegar brine to preserve everything from vegetables to meat and fish. Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Chinese used this method to preserve fresh foods. Today, it’s a common method throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and North Africa.
Even before refrigeration, freezing was a popular preservation method in areas where temperatures were cold enough. Cellars, caves, and cold streams were also used to keep food fresh longer. In the 1800s, American estates were built with icehouses where ice and food on ice was stored. Keeping food, like fresh salmon, in these icehouses made it possible to preserve and enjoy it as if it were freshly caught.
One of the newest methods of food preservation, canning was developed in the early 19th century when Napoleon Bonaparte offered a cash prize to anyone who could preserve food to keep his armies fed. In response to Bonaparte’s challenge, French confectioner, Nicholas Alpert, developed the canning process. Today, heating, boiling and sealing food in jars and tin cans continue to be a popular method that makes it possible to preserve veggies, fruit, and meats without the use of additives and chemicals.
Salmon Every Day
With its meaty texture and rich flavour, salmon is highly sought after for consumption. Without preservation, however, it must be prepared and eaten soon after it’s caught. Thanks to the diverse cultures of the world and the preservation methods they’ve developed, salmon can be enjoyed in many different ways long after it’s caught. Many of these methods, like canning, preserve the natural flavour and nutrients while making it possible to enjoy salmon every day!