Tørrfisk fra Lofoten (Lofoten cod)

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Tørrfisk fra Lofoten

BGB Tørrfisk fra Lofoten is naturally dried Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) from Lofoten in Norway. The designation includes stockfish which meets the requirements for grading, cf. Norwegian industry standard for classification of stockfish. ‘Tørrfisk fra Lofoten’ shall have a water content of 16-27 %, a protein content of 68-78 % and a fat content of approximately 1 %. ‘Tørrfisk fra Lofoten’ has a concentrated taste and aroma of fish, a golden colour on the skin and a size between 40-90 cm.

Raw materials

‘Tørrfisk fra Lofoten’ shall be produced from Atlantic cod captured around Lofoten and Vesterålen from January to April. During this time, mature cod from the cold polar waters of the Barents Sea travels to the sea around Lofoten and Vesterålen to spawn. Fish caught in the area has a different structure than fish from deep sea, in particular muscular flesh after long migration what gives it a quality essential to withstand the drying process. It is short distance for fishing for coastal fishermen, thus the fish can be caught and delivered the same day which is important for the fish quality.

Concise definition of the geographical area

Fish for production of ‘Tørrfisk fra Lofoten’ is to be caught around Lofoten and Vesterålen, delivered to a landing facility in Lofoten and naturally dried and sorted in Lofoten. Lofoten consists of the municipalities Flakstad, Moskenes, Røst, Vestvågøy, Værøy and Vågan.

Specificity of the geographical area

The sea around Lofoten and Vesterålen is among the world's richest fishing areas, and Lofoten fishing is the most important seasonal fishing for cod in Norway. The Atlantic cod lives most of its life in the Barents Sea, but migrates to the sea around Lofoten and Vesterålen to spawn in the period from January to April. Due to the temperature and the access to nourishment in the sea in that period, the conditions for hatching in this area are very favourable. The sea around Lofoten and Vesterålen has through the ages been the most important spawning ground for Atlantic cod. Here the continental shelf is narrow, and nutrient-rich water flow passes not very far from the shore. This gives optimal conditions for growth and survival. The massive influx of Atlantic cod to the geographical area is congruent with the period where the climatic conditions are specially suitable for natural drying.

The position relative to the Gulf Stream gives particularly favourable conditions for natural drying of fish and is vital to end quality of ‘Tørrfisk fra Lofoten’. Because of the Gulf Stream, winters in Lofoten are mild with an average temperature of between – 0,8 °C to + 2,2 °C from January to April, and the springs are dry with a total precipitation of 132 mm to 108 mm. Those climatic conditions are a premise that the fish dries properly and doesn’t freeze or decompose.

The knowledge of grading is vital to the quality of the end product. Grading requires in-depth knowledge and is done by so-called ‘discarders’. Historically speaking, the quality assessment is a skill which has been handed down through generations in families and/or companies. Formerly, graders were trained in the company with which they were associated, while lately theoretical grader training has been established for the industry. Theoretical training is combined with practical training in a stockfish manufacturing company. Expertise in manufacturing and market requirements have also traditionally been handed down through generations in Lofoten. This knowledge is essential in order to obtain good quality on ‘Tørrfisk fra Lofoten’.

Specificity of the product

‘Tørrfisk fra Lofoten’ is gutted, beheaded and naturally Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) from mature fish. Natural drying both preserves and matures the fish, chiefly due to the considerable reduction of the water content. This gives high durability and high nutritional content, e.g. a high content of protein between 68-78 % compared with 18 % in fresh cod. The fish has finished drying when it has the correct ‘fish sound’ when one knocks it. It shall have a solid and massive click sound. In order to assess the correct ‘fish sound’, good knowledge and long experience are necessary.

Causal link between the geographical area and a specific quality, the reputation or other characteristic of the product

The link is based on the characteristics of the product attributable to its geographical origin. Natural drying of fish has taken place in Lofoten since the early 1100s, and is an important part of the Norwegian heritage. The knowledge of drying and grading has been handed down by generations in Lofoten. Stockfish has been and is an important Norwegian product of export.

The long fish migration in cold temperature waters from the Barents Sea to Lofoten and Vesterålen gives a slim fish with a firm and muscular meat. Raw material of such a quality is vital as regards the tolerance of the drying process.

Temperature, precipitation, wind, sun and snow are all factors vital to the drying process, and make the geographical area to a particularly suitable area for drying fish. The actual temperature in the geographical area sees to that the fish doesn’t freeze or decompose, but dries. Appropriate precipitation, together with the coastal winds, gives good conditions for natural drying. And the sun’s reflection in the snow on the ground gives the fish its golden colour. The drying process gives the stockfish its special texture and concentrated fishy taste and aroma. Together with high-quality raw materials, the climate is vital to the end quality of the ‘Tørrfisk fra Lofoten’. Lofoten is the only place in the world where one has this kind of climate and at the same time has access to high-quality mature cod.

Reference: The European Commission

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