Did You Know? (Isinglass)

LoGrasso’s Café & Bistro at Isinglass Place, 13 Railroad Ave. in Rockport is located upstairs in the building that once was home to the Rockport Twine & Rope Factory where my father worked in the 60’s and early 70’s.  Prior to that it was the Cape Ann Isinglass and Glue Company, formed in 1868 by the firm of J.J. Manning & Brother (William).  

Isinglass is a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish, originally sturgeon, but now primarily cod and hake.  It is a form of collagen used mainly for the clarification of wine and beer.  It can also be cooked into a paste for specialized gluing purposes, such as repairing parchment.  The swim bladders or sounds of certain fish are largely composed of that variety of gelatin called isinglass.  The sounds are manufactured into isinglass by a mechanical operation which consists of passing the macerated sounds successively between several sets of rollers, the first set kneading the sounds into a homogeneous sheet, and the subsequent sets squeezing and elongating the sheets into the ribbons of isinglass known to commerce.

Isinglass is a protein-based clarifier that has been traditionally used by commercial wineries and is preferred by some winemakers because of the softer, gentler effect it has on the color and body of the wine. It is very effective in adding a high polish to white and blush wines.

Wouldn’t it be cool if LoGrasso’s served isinglass clarified wines.  Unfortunately it is a BYOB establishment, so you would have to find and bring your own.

E.J. Lefavour


  • I didn’t know what Isinglass was (I thought I did but was way off), and I’ve never eaten at LoGrasso’s Café & Bistro. By next week I’ll have fixed both. Finding a menu online was pretty easy and am zeroing in on the Scallops Putanesca although a crispy boneless duck or the Osso Bucco might have to get ordered if only it would get cold and rainy. Nothing like Osso Bucco to warm the cockles. (What the hell is a cockle, maybe the next “Do you know”?)

    OK, now I’m hungry.


  • Paul, don’t rush the cold & rainy – Osso Bucco can wait a bit, as can warming your cockles. The cockles of your heart are more metaphorical than physical, although the phrase can be traced back to 15th century medical beliefs. Unfortunately, the etymological path gets a tad murky after that.

    Under one popular theory, the phrase “cockles of your heart” is derived from the Latin description for the heart’s chambers, cochleae cordis. It is believed that the word ‘cockles’ is a corrupted version of cochleae, most likely entering the popular vernacular as a form of slang. The prevailing medical opinion of that day and time was that the ventricles of the human heart resembled the concentric shells of small mollusks or snails, also known as cochleae or cockles.
    Another possibility of the origin of “warm the cockles of your heart” may be an alternative definition of “cockles.” The fire chamber of a kiln was once called a cockle, although that usage has apparently fallen out of common use. Under this theory, the cockles of your heart are analogous to the cold chambers of a kiln, which must be warmed to a certain temperature in order to function at its best. It could be argued that a nostalgic movie or other life-affirming experience, like eating Osso Bucco, warms the cockles of your heart in the same sense that a fire warms the “cockles” of a kiln.


  • I didn’t think I had made this up – mica sheets are also called isinglass: “Thin transparent sheets of mica called “isinglass” were used for peepholes in boilers, lanterns, stoves”.


  • This blog makes coming to work a pleasure its a great way to start the day!


  • wow, I learn soooo much from reading this blog…


  • OK, I have eaten at LoGrasso’s a dozen times since this post including tonight. A gem. I had the rack of lamb. Perfect. Their sides of mashed potatoes and veggies are so good. I pretend my wine that I bring BYOB has been Isinglass clarified.

    fyi. A Friday night, I called at 4PM any openings tonigt for four, 6:30PM? Sadly no the place was booked. As I cried unicorn tears making a list of stuff to buy at Market Basket to feed the troops my cell phone rang with “LaGrassoss” lit up! Someone cancelled!


  • do you know who manufacturers isinglass from fish bladder in united states currently??
    there are UK suppliers but i would like to know if any company manufacturers in US.


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