1950's / b&w photo / blogging / vintage b&w photo

Weekly Vintage Square Shared: Ice Fishing for Lutefisk? (1950s)

Again, a found photo with no further information other than it came from a group of photos that came from Michigan & Wisconsin.  I’m guessing at the date, and taking a wide guess as coming from the 1950’s, again based upon the dates on the other photos that came in the same batch.

I have been fishing in my life, but having grown up in Florida, my experiences were very different from this one!  I really can’t imagine why anyone would do this on purpose, but these guys do look happy in a frigid, frost-bitten way.  Maybe they’re out looking for a suitable fish to make into Lutefisk?  (Hint: If ever offered Lutefisk, just say “thanks, but no thanks.”)

What is Lutefisk you ask? Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

Lutefisk is made from dried whitefish (normally cod, but ling is also used), prepared with lye, in a sequence of particular treatments. The watering steps of these treatments differ slightly for salted/dried whitefish because of its high salt content.

The first treatment is to soak the stockfish in cold water for five to six days (with the water changed daily). The saturated stockfish is then soaked in an unchanged solution of cold water and lye for an additional two days. The fish swells during this soaking and its protein content decreases by more than 50 percent, producing its famous jelly-like consistency. When this treatment is finished, the fish (saturated with lye) has a pH value of 11–12, and is therefore caustic. To make the fish edible, a final treatment of yet another four to six days of soaking in cold water (also changed daily) is needed. Eventually, the lutefisk is ready to be cooked.

In Finland, the traditional reagent used is birch ash. It contains high amounts of potassium carbonate and hydrocarbonate, giving the fish a more mellow treatment than would sodium hydroxide (lyestone). It is important to not incubate the fish too long in the lye, because saponification of the fish fats may occur, effectively rendering the fish fats into soap. The term for such spoiled fish in Finnish is saippuakala (soap fish).

Can you say yuck?  Kind of puts a whole new spin on sitting out in the freezing cold and hoping that a fish doesn’t grab the line!

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