This section is from the book "Hints To Housewives On How To Buy, How To Care For Food", by Mayor Mitchel's Food Supply Committee. Also available from Amazon: Hints to Housewives on How to Buy, How to Care for Food.
How To Tell When Fish Is Fresh. In fresh fish the eyes are bright, the gills red, and the flesh firm and odorless.
Put fish in water, and if it sinks you will know it is fresh. If it floats, it is a sign that it is not fresh, and it should not be used. Serious illness is apt to follow the eating of fish that is not fresh.
Be sure that the fish is thoroughly cleaned before cooking it. It should be cleaned as soon as it is bought.
Fish In Season. When buying fish, buy the variety that is most plentiful at the time. Do not try to buy a variety that is scarce or out of season.
Cod, Scrod, Haddock, Tile fish and Halibut can be obtained practically all the year. (Scrod is a young cod split down the back and the backbone removed, except a small portion near the tail.) From about the middle of April to the 1st of November the fish in season are Weak fish, Butter fish, Porgies, Sea Bass, Fluke, Flounder, Whiting, Mackerel, Shad, Salmon and Bluefish. Nearly all of these are very abundant in the spring of the year. Bluefish have been very scarce of late and are practically out of the market.
During the winter the fish in season are Spanish Mackerel, Red Snapper, Sea Trout, small Bluefish and Smelts.
At stated periods during the year, when certain fish are very plentiful, they are caught in such large numbers that it is impossible to dispose of all of them immediately because of the comparatively small demand for fish on the part of our housewives. This surplus fish is sent to cold storage in order that it may be preserved and eaten when the same variety of fish cannot be freshly caught. In this way you usually can get, at any time of the year, any kind of fish you particularly like.
Fish that has been properly frozen and kept in cold storage is just as good as fresh fish; it is just as palatable, just as nutritious. Many housewives do not know this, and as a result they always insist upon buying fresh fish. Unscrupulous dealers frequently take advantage of the housewives' demand for fresh fish and thaw out frozen fish and sell it as fresh fish. As frozen fish costs about one - third less than fresh fish, the housewife pays just that much more than she should for the fish that is sold her in this way.
Ask your dealer if he keeps frozen fish (cold-storage fish). Tell him you want to make a practice of buying frozen fish in place of fresh fish. See that he sells it to you for one-third less than the price of fresh fish.
Frozen fish spoils quickly if it is kept for hours after being thawed out. This is why you should not buy fish that has been thawed out by your dealer. You should buy it while it is still in its frozen state, and take it home and thaw it out yourself. It is a very simple matter to thaw it out: just lay the fish in cold water and the ice will gradually melt.
The fish should be cooked as soon as it is thawed out. Frozen fish is cooked in exactly the same way as fresh fish, and not only tastes just as good but is just as nourishing.
Here is one way in which you can save one-third of the money you usually spend for fish.