Let’s be honest, Alaska is not for everyone. The small population, rural living and distance from the rest of the world can lead sun seekers to relocate. But no matter how far they go, Alaskans will probably miss the tastes of home. These are foods that every Alaskan craves when they leave Alaska.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Wild Alaskan blueberries
These berries are like nothing found anywhere else in the world. Generally smaller, darker and more tart than their commercial counterparts, wild blueberries are abundant on the tundra and hillsides in late summer. The delicious morsels can be picked wild and eaten by the handful, just watch out for bears who like berries as much as humans do.
These rare berries grow in the rainforests of the southeast and up into the interior. The color can vary from red through orange to yellow, and they are simply gorgeous when glistening in the sun. They taste sweet and mildly tangy, and those who grew up near them will never forget.
Wild raspberries explode on the scene when they are in season, a few short weeks in midsummer. These tart sensations are wild, small and concentrated with berry flavor.
4. Copper River Reds on the grill
Harvesting salmon for the winter is a common Alaskan activity and many head to their nearest access point and stock up. Dip netting in Chitna is popular choice and a fresh Copper River Red on the grill is a true taste of home.
5. Rhubarb delight
Rhubarb grows exceptionally well in Alaska's soils and goes crazy in the midnight sun. Many classic Alaskan desserts feature rhubarb such as pies, crumbles, crisps, and betties.
6. Blueberry pancakes
Wild blueberries make delicious pancakes and they are a favorite of Alaskan kids. Enjoy either in the kitchen at home or out in the wilds...fresh picked berries in instant pancake batter, included in your camping menu.
7. Sourdough pancakes
Alaskans have long favored sourdough, the fermented bread rising agent, and it was prized in the Gold Rush era. Old time Alaskans are even called "sourdoughs" in honor of this delicious ingredient. Sourdough pancakes can be seen throughout the land, dotted with berries if you've got them. Often served silver dollar size in endless, heaps smothered in butter and birch syrup.
8. Birch syrup
Like maple syrup, the sap from the paper birch trees that grow wild across Alaska is made into syrup. The sap is boiled down and concentrated to a sweet, sticky syrup for pancakes with birch's distinctive piney-citrus zing.
9. Smoked salmon strips
A summer special when the reds are running and the smoke house is busy all the time. Tasty, juicy strips of smoked salmon are everywhere when the time is right, and no one can get enough.
10. Bacon wrapped scallops
This is a go-to for elegant evenings and the fresh Alaskan scallops are unparalleled. In other places, they just don't taste as good.
11. Alaska king crab
The king of dishes, king crabs grow to enormous size in Alaska's Bristol Bay. Fresh and giant, king crab legs are part of a true Alaskan feast.
12. Alaskan prawns
These tasty beauties are caught by the shrimp pot full in oceanside communities. Anyone from a seaside town will remember the abundance of shrimp forever.
13. Kachemak Bay oysters
These delicacies are shipped across the country, but are best enjoyed on the Homer spit, straight from the source. For those who love oysters, these are the best and no other oysters will do.
14. Reindeer sausage at breakfast
A local option at breakfast, reindeer sausage has a delicious texture and flavor all its own. Alaskans will always miss that line on the diner menu.
15. Halibut chowder
The local version of New England Clam Chowder is made with the cold water white fish halibut. Everyone loves a creamy cup of hot soup when they get off the water, and Alaskans will remember this unique flavor forever.
16. Moose stew
In October, the crock pot is always full of moose stew. Moose are large, but the meat is lean and darkly rich with nutrients. Moose stew warms you up in the chilly fall and feeds the body and the heart.
This unique flavor combination is a distinctive taste of home for those from the artic. Frozen berries are mixed with caribou or seal fat and wild greens. Sometimes whitefish is added for flavor. A westernized version made from sugar, crisco and frozen berries is served at many celebrations.
The tastes of Alaska are as wild, diverse and unique as the state itself. Only a visit to Alaska will truly give you a taste of the Great Land.
Which of these foods do you love? Tell us about it in the comments below.