I made fish stock a week ago. It was my first go at the process, an ostensibly simple one: Procure fish carcasses from a local monger, strip them of any wayward flesh, roast the bones for 20 minutes, simmer them in water for 60. Strain, then store. I was unworried.
It was all a little messier than I expected (remember to line your pans with parchment when roasting any bones to keep them from gluing and glomming onto your baking sheets). After the pans were scrubbed and the trash cans carried out of the house, the problem appeared: a pervasive and lingering stench so awful I was convinced fish guts had spilled somewhere unnoticed and now sat, festering and turning my home into an uninhabitable swamp of filth.
Throughout the week that followed, my life’s purpose became ridding our house of the smell. It was formidable and mysterious. I Swiffered more than I’ve ever Swiffered in my life (though that’s not saying a lot). I frantically texted Sarah for guidance. I convinced myself my roommates would kick me out, deeming me unfit to use our kitchen ever again.
The good news is, a full week later, the smell is mostly gone; there’s still a lingering whiff you get when you first walk up our stairs, but I’ve come to greet it like a mischievous pet: annoying but harmless.
Here’s a summary of what I did, and which strategies I think actually worked. If this happens to you, know that you’re not alone! And it might take some time. Apparently this is just a thing that happens, but people keep cooking fish anyways?
There are other things I could have tried, like simmering a lemon peel in water, or simmering baking spices, or baking cookies until my arms fell off. I’d say patience is the most important tool here, as well as trust that your problem will, at some point, go away.
Or you could always just move.
What's the worst smell that's ever plagued your house—and how did you fix it? Tell us in the comments!