Day 1 – Moskenes - Å
July 7, 2010
We drove from Moskenes to Å, where my relatives rented a rorbu, which is a great way to stay in the Lofoten Islands if you have more than a few people.
The science of producing good stockfish is in many ways comparable to that of making a good cognac, parma ham, or a well matured cheese....
The fish is prepared immediately after capture. After gutting the fish, it is either dried whole, or split along the spine leaving the tail connected. The fish is hung on the flakes from February to May. Stable cool weather protects the fish from insects and prevents bacterial growth. A temperature just above zero degrees celsius, with little rain, is ideal. Too much frost will spoil the fish, as ice destroys the fibers in the fish. The climate in northern Norway is excellent for stockfish production. Due to the stable conditions, the stockfish produced in Lofoten is regarded as the best. The traditional cod harvest in Lofoten also takes place during the best drying time. Due to a milder and more humid climate, salted/dried whitefish (klippfisk) was more common in the fisheries districts of Western Norway.
After its three months hanging on the flakes, the fish is then matured for another two to three months indoors in a dry and airy environment. During the drying, about 80% of the water in the fish disappears. The stockfish retains all the nutrients from the fresh fish, only concentrated: it is therefore rich in proteins, vitamins, iron, and calcium.
However, my guess is the cod you see hanging on flakes outside is salted dried cod (Klippfisk), since the unsalted version is dried outside on those wood racks, called flake (Hjell), in winter. This also explains, by the way, why many of the racks were empty when I saw them, those must be used for the true saltless drying, during winter.
Ok, with that out of the way, we're ready to start on our trip through the Lofotens.