Frequently Asked Questions
You have questions, we have answers
Why do I want to buy my fish from Sitka Salmon Shares?
We all want a personal connection with our food. We all want to know how our food is produced. It’s what gives our food meaning, and it’s what makes eating a food special. Sadly, industrialization shattered the connections between eaters and growers, fishermen and fish lovers. In the last 20 years, there has been a growing consensus that there’s something valuable about reestablishing the connections between eaters and the land for the benefit of both the consumer and the producer. We do the same for salmon. At Sitka Salmon Shares, all salmon travel from small-boat family fishermen and their cooperatives in Southeast Alaska to your door. Besides knowing where your fish came from, here are a few more reasons you might want to buy direct:
- Marion Burros, "Stores Say Wild Salmon, but Tests Say Farm Bred," The New York Times, April 10, 2005
- "Globe Investigation Finds Widespread Seafood Mislabeling." The Boston Globe
- "Mystery Fish," Consumer Reports, December 2011
- Donna Blankinship, "University Study Uncovers False Salmon Labeling," The Seattle Times, July 8, 2011
As important, these small-boat family fishermen take great care of your fish. Every fish is processed on board the boat, and as soon as it is processed, it is down in the boat's hold on ice. Within hours, the fish is down to 32 degrees, locking in your salmon's freshness and quality, before it's brought on shore, turned into 1-pound, portion-sized fillets, vacuum-sealed, and blast-frozen to 40 below. This allows your fish to taste just as it did off boats in Southeast Alaska.
Where do I pick up my fish?
You don't! We home-deliver through our community supported fishery (CSF). In our Midwest CSF communities, all of the shares are home-delivered by us straight to your doorstep. The delivery schedule can be found by clicking HERE. About a week before your scheduled delivery, we will send a reminder email with the date and time frame of your delivery. At that point we can make adjustments as needed.
How do CSF deliveries work?
We conduct all our own deliveries for our Midwest CSF. On the day of your delivery, we will be tooling around your local area dropping salmon and seafood at our members’ homes. If you’re home, we’ll hand off that month’s catch to you. If you’re away, we will have missed you, but your fish/seafood will remain frozen in insulated freezer bags with dry ice for the next hours until you arrive home to put in the freezer. Your delivery comes complete with that month’s newsletter for behind-the-scenes info with our fishermen and stewards, recipes, and updates from the land of Sitka Salmon.
Do I need to be home for deliveries?
While we would love to meet you, we know life can be hectic. If you are at work, running errands, or out for ice cream--have no fear! We’ll leave your fish waiting for you. We have freezer bags and dry ice to leave your fish with so it remains frozen for hours, even in the summer. Some members like to leave a cooler out for us too, which we put the fish and dry ice in for safekeeping. We are also happy to deliver to an alternate address nearby. Let us know your constraints, and we will work with you to find a solution.
What if I'm out of town when my delivery is scheduled?
No problem! Just let us know. We will work with you to reschedule the delivery. Or, if you do not want to wait, we can also change the delivery address for that month to one of your friends or neighbors.
What size are the fillets and how are they packaged?
The size of your fillets ranges by species and how the fish have been processed. In general, all fillets are in 8- to 16-oz. portions. (That is, a little under a half-pound to a little over a pound.) All of the portions are individually vacuum-sealed and arrive blast-frozen in 5-lb share boxes, which are about the size of small shoeboxes.
Can I cancel my CSF share if I'm not satisfied or am moving?
Yes, you can cancel your enrollment at any time, and we'll refund in full the remainder of your deliveries. To cancel your CSF share, please contact us here, by email at email@example.com, or by phone at (309) 342-3474. For those members moving between our CSF markets, we're happy to change the city and address for your delivery--just let us know!
Do I have to pay for my whole share at once?
No. We have set up a process this year to enable members to select a payment plan to pace out the cost of deliveries. Pay a portion of the full share at the time of enrollment, and then we’ll charge you a portion each month you receive a delivery (except your last month, because you’ve already paid it!).
What is "salmon burger meat"?
“Salmon burger meat” is the same fish as our fillets--pure wild Alaskan salmon--but scraped from the frame before freezing with no bones or skin. It is basically a lazy foodie’s dream. It is very versatile to make into salmon burger patties, but also really nice and convenient to use in a variety of other preparations: stews, omelets, salads--anything that might call for flaked fish. The “burger meat” comes vacuum-sealed and blast-frozen in 1-pound portions (not pre-formed patties) to cook as you please. No additives or other ingredients--just salmon.
Can you tell me more about the various fish that come in your shares?
It would be our pleasure! Please check out the Culinary Field Guide we've prepared to help acquaint you with the fish that will fill your plate month to month. If you have more specific questions, please just send us a note or give a call. We like to talk fish.
I misplaced a previous newsletter...can you send me a copy?
Of course! Just email our Salmon Stewards at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll send a PDF your way.
Can you help me find a good recipe?
This year we are excited to greatly expand our in-house recipe development. On our recipe page you'll find an ever-growing batch of our favorite dishes. Our blog and newsletters will also feature chef Ali Banks in "Ali Cooks" who's full of great tips and recipes when it comes to salmon and other seafood. Also keep an eye on our facebook page for a peek into our kitchens and great seafood cooking content we find. Emails welcome too!
Why do I want my King and Coho Salmon caught by hook-and-Line?
Salmon troll-caught by hook-and-line are superior in every way to the way the vast majority of the world's fish are captured. Almost all the fish you eat from the sea are caught by giant boats called factory trawlers. Want to see one of these beasts? Click here. These boats catch tens of thousands of pounds of fish at a time. The result? Your fish get crushed, bruised, and suffocated. This is one of the reasons that your fish tastes "fishy." These trawlers also catch thousands of pounds of fish they don't mean to catch. These fish are thrown back over the side of the boat--dead.
When your fish is troll-caught by hook-and-line, you're making sure that your fish is handled with the type of care your salmon deserves. Is this method of capture labor-intensive? Yep. Is it inefficient? You bet. Does it produce a higher-quality, more sustainable salmon? Absolutely. Why is that, you ask? It's because every salmon is individually caught and individually landed. If it is not the species the fisherman's after, a simple flip of the hook allows the fish to be released to live out the rest of its life. If it is the salmon species the fisherman has targeted, the salmon is immediately processed on board the boat. The fish is bled, gutted, and on ice within 20 minutes of being caught. This preserves the fresh flavor of the ocean and makes sure salmon arrives at your table at the peak of freshness.
Why aren't Sockeye Salmon caught by hook-and-Line?
Sockeye salmon eat too low on the food chain to be caught via hook-and-line. Thus, we work with small-boat gillnetters who pride themselves on treating salmon with the same type of care as we expect from our hook-and-line troll fishermen. Just like king and coho trollers, these sockeye gillnetters bleed, gut, and ice every salmon within 20 minutes of being caught, ensuring you the world's best-tasting salmon. In fact, the sockeye fishermen we work with go even further to ensure the quality of your sockeye. They do so by employing a process called pressure-bleeding. It sounds kind of strange, but it produces superior fish. Here's how it works: once a salmon is on board the boat, the fisherman takes a hypodermic needle attached to a seawater pump and inserts it first into the dorsal aorta and next caudal artery. This seawater flushes the salmon's circulatory and muscle systems of blood, one of the first substances that produces rot in a salmon's flesh. Pressure-bleeding sockeye creates a cleaner, fresher-tasting fish and higher-quality fish. If you'd like to know more about this process, email us.
Why should I choose Blast-frozen salmon over fresh salmon?
One of the central tenets of salmon-eating is that fresh salmon is somehow better than frozen. There’s a kernel of truth in that statement. Certainly, there’s nothing quite like a salmon, still quivering, from a fishing boat. But if you are anywhere beyond the immediate coast, truth is, you’re looking at AT LEAST five days before the salmon gets to your market, even with modern air freight and overnight flights. More likely, it is eight days old. What that means is that your fresh salmon is at the end of its shelf life by the time it gets to your grill or your baking dish. That is no way to treat a fish that is giving its life to you. Simultaneously, frozen fish has a bad rap. That’s for good reason, but not because of the freezing process itself but because of the way it is frozen. Most frozen fish on the American market is twice frozen. That is the problem. It is frozen once on shore, shipped whole to a processor (often in China), defrosted, processed into fillets or other products, and then refrozen. You would not want beer, ice cream, or wine to go through repeated heating and cooling cycles, and you definitely don’t want your salmon to go through them. At Sitka Salmon Shares, your salmon is caught, processed on the boat, and immediately brought to shore, where it is filleted, portioned, vacuum-sealed, and blast-frozen to 40 below, all within hours of landing. It lasts for six months in your freezer with no decline in quality. For eaters raised to believe that fresher is better, that’s a hard concept to believe. But, in reality, a fillet of Sitka Salmon Shares salmon caught in July and eaten in February is actually much fresher than fresh supermarket salmon.
Can I eat your Salmon raw?
Yes, eat our fish raw! Our king salmon--all of our fish, really--makes INCREDIBLE sushi and sashimi.
The on-boat processing and individual handling of our all of our fish ensures the quality demanded by any raw preparation. More important--safety-wise, anyway--our fish are all blast-frozen to 40 below. It’s actually the freezing process that kills any parasites that could be in the fish, which would otherwise be killed by heat in cooking. It is really the blast-freezing process that makes the fish "sushi-grade" from a safety standpoint. Some sushi restaurants might serve seafood they receive fresh, as there are actually no official regulations on seafood suitable for raw consumption, but restaurants serving a species where there is a risk of parasite (salmon included) are usually--or really should be--serving fish that’s been previously blast-frozen.
The FDA’s stance is still that consuming undercooked meat, poultry, and seafood products may increase the risk of foodborne illness.
What if there is a shortage of fish? Is there a guarantee of some sort?
When you purchase a share, it is guaranteed that you will get the amount of fish you buy. If for some reason our fishermen do not catch enough to cover all of our shares, we do contract with other fishermen to get all of the shares fulfilled. In the event that an environmental disaster occurs and there is no possible way for us to get the fish, we would refund that portion of the share.
What do you do to offset the Carbon Footprint you make?
As for the carbon offsets, we technically offset only the portion of transit from Alaska to the Midwest, which is where the relative bulk of the emissions we are responsible for take place. To calculate our carbon footprint, we work with a company called Native Energy. It helps us use data from our shipments to calculate the carbon footprint and purchase offsets that go toward financing various verified carbon projects (mostly renewable energy-related).