Salt Cod – Day 2
So the salt cod sat overnight in the fridge with salt pressed loosely to its surface with cheesecloth. Overnight, the fish took on a stiffer texture, but nothing like the translucent stiffness I see when I cure salmon (see pic. to the right – very little has changed visually from the salting). Though noticeably harder, the fish still felt too “soft” to have really taken on lots of salt. Most of the salt was gone, however, although some flakes clung to the cheesecloth, having refused to melt into the fish. Note that this was the exception, with large sections of the fish showing no salt left at all. Underneath, the salt had actually drained some water out of the fish, which sat in a small puddle underneath the samples.
When I tested the water activity, the soft texture showed itself to be an illusion. The water activity was 0.791, already in the “safe” range for pathogenic bacteria, and much lower than the 0.99 reading for fresh cod. Salt again shows its power to penetrate into tissue like fish at high rates of speed. The next step is to watch the fish as it dries in the fridge for another 4-7 days. Fridge humidity is very low, and Ruhlman says the fish will be stiff when done, so I still expect it to lose a lot more water during the drying phase. Water activity readings will detail the progress of this process.