Holes, as they are called, many a Canoe, and small Boat having
been overset by the fall of a Sturgeon into it.
At the latter End of August, great Numbers of these Sturgeons
approach to the Cataracts, and Rocky Places of the River, where
the English and Indians go to strike them, which they
do with a Cane 14 Feet in length, and pointed at the smaller End:
With this the Striker stands at the Head of the Canoa, another steering
it. The Striker when he discovers one lying at the Bottom (which
they generally do in six or eight Feet depth) gently moves the pointed
End of the Cane to the Fish, giving it a sudden Thrust between the
Bony Scales into its Body, at which the Fish scuds away with great
swiftness, drawing the Cane after it, the great End of which appearing
on the Surface of the Water, directs the Striker which Way to pursue
his Chace. The Fish being tired, slackens its Pace, which gives
the Striker an Opportunity of thrusting another Cane into it, then
it scuds away as before, but at length by loss of Blood falters,
and turning its Belly upwards, submits to be taken into the Canoe.
A she Sturgeon contains about a Bushel of Spawn, and weighs usually
three hundred, and some three hundred and fifty Pounds, and are
about nine Feet long; the Males are less.
Twenty Miles above Savanna Fort, on the Savanna
River, where the Cataracts begin, three of us in two Days killed
sixteen, which to my Regret were left rotting on the Shore, except
what we regaled our selves with at the Place, and two we brought
to the Garison. Such is the great Plenty and little Esteem of so
excellent a Fish, which by proper Management might turn to good
Account, by pickling and sending them to the Sugar lslands.
Speculative Knowledge in Things meerly curious, may be kept secret
without much Loss to Mankind. But the concealing Things of real
Use is derogating from the Purposes we were created for, by depriving
the Publick of a Benefit designed them by the Donor of all Things.
It is on this Motive I here insert a Receipt for pickling Sturgeon
and Caviair, which tho' not a Nostrum, is not known to many,
especially in America, where it can be of most Use.
These Receipts I was favoured with by his Excellency Mr. Johnson,
late Governor of South Carolina, which he told me he got
translated from the Original in High Dutch, which was wrote
in Gold Letters, and fixed in the Town Hall at Hambourg.
At the same Time and Place he procured Nets for catching them, with
a Design of manufacturing this useful Fish in his Government. But
Perplexities ensuing not long after, obstructed his Design, which
otherwise would probably have given a good Example to so laudable
To pickle Sturgeon.
Let the Fish when taken, cool on the Ground, 24, 36, or 48 Hours,
as the Weather requires; then cut it in Pieces, and throw it into
clean Water, shifting the Water several Times; whilst it is soaking,
walk and brush it with hard Brushes, till it is very clean, which
it will be in two or three Hours, and then you may tie it up with
Bass, and boil it: Put the Fish in the Kettle when the Water is
cold, and in the boiling, the Fat must be taken off very well: Put
in somewhat more Salt than in boiling other Fish, and scum it well,
and boil it very softly till it be tender, an Hour, or an Hour and
half, or two Hours, according to the Age of the Fish, and then let
it cool very well, and put it into Pickle: The Pickle must be made
of five Eights of Beer-Vinegar and three Eigths of the Broth it
was boil'd in mixt together, and salt the Pickle very well with
unbeat Salt, somewhat more than will make a fresh Egg swim, and
that will cure it.
To make Caviair.
As soon as the Sturgeon is catched, rip up the Belly, and take
out the Roe, and cut it as near as you can, Flake by Flake asunder,
and Salt it with good Spanish Salt, extraordinary sharp,
putting it into a Basket, and there let it lie at least six Weeks,
and then take it out, and wash off the Salt very well; then lay
it on Boards in the Sun, so thin as that it may soon dry on both
Sides. It must be turned, but Care must be taken that it be not
too hard dryed, but that you may pack it close, and as you pack
it, take out all the thick Skins, in which you must be very nice,
and when it is packed very close, you must then take some heavy
Weights and lay upon it, that it may be pressed very hard, then
it will be as close as a Cheese to keep for Use.