Stockfish is unsalted fish, especially cod, dried by cold air and wind on wooden racks on the foreshore, called “hjell”. The drying of food is the world’s oldest known preservation method, and dried fish has a storage life of several years. 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 hjell from February to May. Stable cool weather protects the fish from insects and prevents an uncontrolled 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.
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