Harvesting Alaska: Akutaq (Eskimo ice cream)
For Anna Sattler the smell of fall in the air and her bags of fresh berries mean it’s time to make akutaq.
“It just reminds me of this time of year. It doesn't matter when I'm having it,” Sattler said. “I don't know how to explain it or quantify it…it makes me happy on the inside,” she smiled.
Akutaq is also known as Eskimo ice cream.
“No one gets offended by this so just say, ‘Eskimo ice cream’ if you can’t say ‘akutaq,’” Sattler laughed. “We love sharing our culture."
It’s a mix of berries—for Sattler’s batch it’s blueberries and cloudberries—combined with a little sugar and Crisco.
“The fat, as gross as it sounds, it really is good. Every time you bake something you use butter or bacon or some kind of fat. If you can get past the thought of Crisco it is really good,” she said.
Sattler grew up in Kwethluk outside Bethel. She spoke Yupik at home and English is her second language.
Her family grew up living off the land. Even in Anchorage she still tries to lead a subsistence life. Her freezer is filled with traditional foods from around the state.
“I have whitefish and sheefish from St. Mary's from a couple months ago, I have muktuk,” she rummaged through the frosty Ziploc bags. “Smelts, dried smelts.”
Sattler is working on a web series highlighting Alaska Native foods. Anna’s Alaska: Off the Eaten Path features recipes like akutaq and salmon pie.
“It doesn't matter where you live you can still live and breathe your culture. That's what I do all the time. It may be in an RV instead of fish camp but I still do that all the time,” she said.
While traditional akutaq can be made with seal oil or moose or caribou fat, Sattler said Crisco has become commonplace around Alaska kitchens.
Her recipe makes the fruit shine.
“We use just enough fat to bind all the berries together. I just love wild berries so that's really all that I want.”
Whether fresh or from the freezer, akutaq is the perfect way to make the most of your berry harvest.
1 cup Crisco or shortening
1/2 cup hot water
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 gallons berries of your choosing
Whip one cup of shortening.
Add hot water with sugar until mixture is the consistency of whip cream.
Fold in berries.
Anna says, "You can substitute shortening with Cool Whip or yogurt for an equally delicious and easy dessert."