I'm currently trying to make gravlax for the first time! I bought about 2 lbs of fish, specifying that I wanted to eat it raw so they gave me something appropriate for that. I put lots of salt, a bit less sugar and some dill between 2 large pieces of fish, wrapped it up tightly in saran wrap, put it in the fridge with some weight on top.

This morning when I went to flip it, there was a lot of liquid in the bottom of the dish I put all of that in. It didn't smell fishy at all, I cleaned it up and flipped it and put it back in the fridge.

The lack of fishy smell makes me think everything is all right, but I wanted to ask if that's something to be expected, or if it's usual, or if it means the fish isn't safe to eat.

Thanks a lot!


3 Answers 3


Yes it is normal.

The salt (and sugar) will "extract" the water from the fish meat.

[...]On a technical level, what both the salt and sugar do is draw moisture out of the fish through osmosis. This decreases the moisture level of the fish, which in turn makes it less hospitable to microbial life. The salt, meanwhile, also helps ward off bacteria that would otherwise hasten spoilage. This extends the edible life of the salmon, but only for a short amount of time—gravlax is not cured in any long-term sense of the word. [...]

Taken from : http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/04/how-to-make-gravlax-cured-salmon.html


Drawing water is actually required and quantity will vary depending on fish thickness, and the amount of weight used to press down during the curing stage.

It is important to use your salt/sugar mix on all 4 sides, not just the inside in order to achieve curing/kill bacteria.

I flip mine every 12 hours, pouring off the water. When hardly any water seeps out the cure is ready (between 24 and 48 hours).

  • You just did contact a mod and just as it’s intended ;-) Thanks for the edit, this is now a quite nice answer.
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 11:45

This is normal as the salt and sugar are Hydroscopic i.e. the absorb moisture the preserving of gravlax is by removing moisture if you find the texture is tough or dry try adding more sugar I found the best combination for Buried Salmon I.E. Grave ( no explanation Needed ) Lax (Swedish for Salmon ) 2 parts salt 1 part sugar

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