How to Salt-Cure Fish

Raleigh Briggs

  • Salt-curing as a means of preserving fish has its unique benefits, one of which is saving freezer space.
    Photo by Getty/Dmitrii Khvan
  • Raleigh Briggs is the best-selling author of "Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills" as well as "Make it Last: Prolonging and Preserving the Things We Love". She lives in Seattle, WA, with her husband.
    Photo courtesy of Raleigh Briggs
  • “Make it Last” by Raleigh Briggs is a resourceful, how-to guide for making and mending home necessities.
    Cover by Raleigh Briggs

Make it Last (Micocosm Publishing, 2012), by Raleigh Briggs, is full of useful methods to make, mend, clean, or preserve everyday household necessities. Briggs, is a best-selling author and a frequent writer on DIY methods and suggestions. Her own personal resourcefulness can be seen in her hand-written books Make it Last and Make your Place, both of which are full of hand-drawn illustrations. The following excerpt examines how to salt-cure fish.

These days, we tend to freeze food when we want to keep it on hand for a long time. Freezing is convenient, of course, but it’s also a major trade-off. If you’ve ever defrosted a salmon filet to find it tasteless and dry, you know what I mean. A possible solution? Go super old-fashioned and try your hand at salt-curing.

Salt has been used to preserve food for basically ever. Packing meat and fish in salt (or alternately, soaking it in a brine solution) not only preserves the food, but infuses it with more flavor and a lovely firm texture.

Not gonna lie: this is a lengthy process. But if you like to fish or you participate in a CSA-style program, salt-curing will come in handy when you suddenly have more fishes than one freezer can handle. You might say curing is really worth its salt! (But I won’t.)

A few notes before you begin:

  • See if you can cure your fish in the summer, because you’ll need plenty of sunshine and fresh air.
  • Salt curing, much like freezing, can affect the texture of your food. Salt draws moisture out of food, so salt-cured fish will be very firm and flaky. Plenty of people love this texture, but it may not be your thing. I say give it a try – if you don’t like it, someone else surely well.
  • For salt-cure recipes, most folks use curing salt, which has large crystals that can soak up a lot of moisture. If you can find curing salt near you, awesome. If not, substitute any chunky or flaky salt, preferably one without additives like iodine. You’ll need a lot of it (1lb salt for every 5lbs fish), so choose something you can afford several large boxes of.

Coarse kosher salt is a terrific choice, as is Alaea salt or course sea salt.

Illustration by Raleigh Briggs.

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