Salt Cod

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Bountiful cod was one resource that attracted Europeans to the New World, where the standard treatment was to split and salt the fish, and lay them out on rocks or racks to dry for several weeks. Nowadays cod may be hard-cured for 15 days to saturate the flesh with salt (25%), then held without drying for months. During that time, Micrococcus bacteria generate flavor by producing free amino acids and TMA; and oxygen breaks up to half the very small amount of fatty substances into free fatty acids and then into a range of smaller molecules that also contribute to aroma. The final artificial drying takes less than three days.