"Corning" means to preserve in salt. On the Outer Banks before refrigeration, fish were often "corned" to preserve them.
Corned fish were packed in wooden barrels with tight fitting lids to keep varmints out. The barrels were stored in the shade, and the fish would keep for many months.
According to a 2009 article (http://hamptonroads.com/2009/11/forgotten-art-corning-preserves-fish-months) in PilotOnLine.com:
"The fish should be scaled, beheaded and gutted. No trace of entrails or the black membrane that lines the cavity of the fish should remain. Then the fish should be butterflied, so the maximum amount of flesh will be exposed to the salt....
Once the fish is prepped, sprinkle the bottom of the container with a 'heavy dusting' of salt. Lay the fish on the salt and give it a heavy dusting - it is not necessary to completely cover the fish with salt. Continue layering fish and salt.
Seal the container and place it in the refrigerator [obviously, old-timers did not have this option, but corning still worked].
"After three or four days, the salt should have pulled the water from the fish to create a brine. Keep an eye on the water level, and when it stops rising, open the container and add enough fresh water to cover the fish completely and enough extra salt so that crystals are visible. You want to have the water dissolve as much salt as possible.
The fish is safe to eat when it is "struck through," meaning that the salt has completely penetrated the flesh. To determine if the fish is struck through, press the flesh with your finger. 'It should be firm, hard, like a board,' Merritt [Jim Merritt, owner of The Catch Seafood at Five Points Community Farm Market in Norfolk] said.
After that, it no longer requires refrigeration and is ready to eat...."
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter
is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at
Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm.