Refrigeration: The Importance of Ice

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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For most of the foods that we want to store fresh for a few days, the ordinary refrigerator is quite adequate. The exception to the rule is fresh fish, whose enzymes and microbes are accustomed to cold waters. The key to maintaining the quality of fresh fish is ice. Fish lasts nearly twice as long in a 32°F/0°C slush as it does at typical refrigerator temperatures of 40–45°F/5–7°C. It’s desirable to keep fish on ice as continuously as possible: in the market display case, the shopping cart, the car, and in the refrigerator. Fine flake or chopped ice will make more even contact than larger cubes or slabs. Wrapping will prevent direct contact with water that leaches away flavor.