Seal hunting and seal meat was the characteristic that distinguished the Kihnu islanders the most from the food culture of the rest of Estonia.
Seal meat is eaten gladly in Kihnu, boiled with potatoes or smoked.
In the old days, seal meat was salted in wooden barrels, dried and smoked. Salted seal meat was dried on a stove, which imparted the best flavour. In the first half of the 20th century, seal hunting was the main source of income on Kihnu. The men of Ruhnu Island were envious of the Kihnu people because the latter had so many children and because the men ate raw seal meat.
In late October, the seals were hunted with nets, there was a separate cupboard for salting seal meat, as the meat had a strong odour. The main part of the seal hunting – on ice in the winter – kept the men on the sea ice for weeks. They would take 7-8 loaves of bread with them, salt meat and potatoes. Out on sea, the men would cook their food in one big pot. Each man would mark their pieces of pork with a brand to be able to recognize it after it was done cooking. This was because some of the men had a larger and meatier portion, others had a more meagre cut. They would also cook soup from fresh seal meat, and the best was the meat of grey seal calves. Back when seals were still hunted on Kihnu, the meat was still everyday fare, eaten with bread. The times were poor, one pig a year was slaughtered and the main food was what the sea yielded. On Good Friday, seal meat has traditionally been prepared.