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63 responses to “Swedish Pickled Herring”

  1. Florian

    These look delicious! I remember eating some very good herrings served in a mix of pickling liquid and sour cream. Hopefully I’ll get hold of some shad this season and try it.

  2. Paul C

    I’d love to see how the fish looks if you cooked some diced beet in the pickling liquid to extract the red color and then pickled the fish in the resultant red pickle juice. I’ve got a few jars of quail eggs I did that way and they’re a beautiful pink color through the white.

  3. Suburban Bushwacker

    SO under rated in the UK, but fantastic eating

    Thanks for putting this one up, I must have a go myself


  4. scott

    Can I do the same thing with Northern Pike?

  5. Carolina Rig

    It’s time to head up to the Roanoke River.

  6. MNAngler

    You can definitely pickle Northern Pike. I did it several years ago and documented the process on my blog. It’s one of my most popular posts to date. The process was not too unlike what Hank has here.

    If you want to see my posts, start here:

    (I hope you don’t mind some shameless self-promotion on your blog, Hank.)

  7. Cathy

    These jars are gorgeous! I love pickled herring, but have a serious yen for the creamed pickled herring my grandmother made (recipe lost to time – so sad!) Would you just drain these and add onions and sour cream? Or is it a different recipe altogether?

  8. Amelia from Z Tasty Life

    great little gifts to bring over at friends. Must be delicious on toasted sourbread toast. do you think it would be good with other small blue fish, like anchovies?
    P.s. congrats on the recent nomination!

  9. The Internet Kitchen: Austin Bound! | Macheesmo

    […] Swedish Pickled Herring – I’m actually kind of a big pickled herring fan, but they have to be good.  I had some in Amsterdam a few years ago that were pretty solid.  It never even occurred to me to try to make them.  Of course, finding herring would probably be my biggest challenge.  I never thought pickled fish could look so good though.  (@ Hunter Angler Gardner Cook) […]

  10. Peggy

    These look absolutely gorgeous! I’ve never tried pickling herring myself, but I definitely know my resource if I decide to!

  11. Heather

    So pretty! Have you ever tried using a little CaCl to maintain firmness of the fillets? Or does salt do a fine job by itself?

  12. Maria @ Scandifoodie

    I used to make this at home in Finland all the time, but unfortunately I can’t get fresh herring here in Australia! Definitely my favourite and the shop bought herring is an ok substitute 😉

  13. Olenka

    It’s looks yummy!!!!!but where ?I can get raw herring in US? I tried 1000 times:(can you help me?

  14. Charlotte

    Should one have to order 20 lbs, is there a way to store these that doesn’t involve the fridge? Can they be canned in a hot water bath? I’d imagine pressure canning would ruin the texture … but for those of us who don’t want to waste the electricity on an extra fridge (and who even feel a little guilty about the standing freezer in the basement) — what to do? They’ve been pickling herring for hundreds of years before there were refrigerators … any ideas?

  15. mayajo

    Never tried this, what would be a better substitute of this fish? do you have any other sugesstions?

  16. Dill and Sour Cream Marinated Shad « Food Perestroika

    […] a great recipe for pickled herring got me motivated to take a shot at sour cream marinated shad. Because shad is bigger than herring, […]

  17. SeattleDee

    You make it sound tempting, but I learned my lesson long ago – let someone else do the work! Perhaps I’ll use your recipe in Petersburg this year IF there’s an easier way to debone those silver critters.

  18. Ken albala

    This is just a thing of beauty! I have ben driving myself crazy trying to find raw fresh herring in Stockton, with no luck. It just isn’t the same with sardines or other little fish. Just not fat enough. I know you fished for these, but do you know if they can be bought somewhere in the Bay area?

  19. Mosaica

    This past weekend I went out with my friend Jack and we fished with throw-nets and came home with 30 or so blueback herring. We split them evenly; I froze six to make stegte sild (pan-fried and marinated in a sweet pickling brine) and the rest I cleaned, chunked, and brined, and when I got home I made the Danish version of glasmastersill (which call glarmester sild). Same as yours, Hank, though with some leeks added and a slightly different ratio of vinegar to sugar to water. Nearly the same though!

    Charlotte: if you’re interested in learning how Danes preserve herring, you can put this URL into Google’s Danish -> English translator and get a decent idea.

    If you want to find more resources, the keywords are saltsild, høstsild, spegesild and the Danish for “how do I make” is “hvordan laver jeg.”


  20. Mosaica

    Ack, here’s the URL I meant:

  21. Mimi

    I was recently in Sweden and had the most incredible herring in a creamy sauce with curry. Any ideas on what else might have been in it? I’ve never heard of a curry sauce for picked herring but it was to die for.

  22. Celebrating Midsummer’s Eve, Swedish-style

    […] Glasmästarsill/Glassblower’s herring […]

  23. Mel

    It is not Glassblower’s herring it is actualy Glass-Master’s Herring (Glasmästarsill)

  24. Dave Stewart-Smith

    I’m about to make my first batch of pickled herring and this discussion has been very useful. My mother was Swedish, and it just isn’t a real holiday or major family get-together without my bowl of herring.

    I have always bought jars of herring and mixed them with sour cream and sweet sliced onions. The last time I did it, I emptied a large jar of herring into a glass bowl, added more sweet onions, a couple cloves of crushed and minced garlic, red wine vinegar and a splash of Worcestershire sauce.

    After a day, I drained and mixed with low fat sour cream and served on Triscuits. Wow.

  25. michael

    i made this a week ago, using brined herring from (very very high quality brined herring–steep shipping, but if you order a lot of herring, it’s not so shocking.) some thoughts on the recipe in no particular order:
    1) if you’re using brined herring (or salted herring), before pickling you’ll need to soak the herring in a couple changes of cold, fresh water–overnight, maybe longer. taste the fish–it should be salty, but not unbearably salty. (the saltiness will dissipate more as you pickle–the salt will equalize with the pickling brine; notice that the recipe doesn’t call for salt. if you’re using fresh herring you’ll need to add salt to the pickle.)
    2) the recipe makes WAY TOO MUCH pickling juice–not the worst sin imaginable, but if you pack the herring carefully, you’ll end up throwing out at least half the pickling liquid if you use the proportions called for in the recipe.
    3) lemons. my pickle is slightly bitter, more so than i care for, due to the amount of pith from the sliced lemons. if i had it to do over again, i’d carefully zest the lemons with a peeler, then remove the white pith and discard it. i’d add the meat of the lemons, and the zest (in large pieces).

    a good recipe. thanks!

  26. Polcat

    One of the easiest fish to find and pickle is the SMELT. It can be found in most supermarkets and is usually frozen and/or fresh. The larger ones look very much like herring.

  27. daniel

    Followed recipe used lime instead of lemon only because i had lime. Caught the herring fresh, plenty in Australia waters. Have only tasted batch after 4 days. Nice very impressed with taste ,but i think i need to wait just a little longer for full picking to get in to fish. The fish i caught were about 350grams and when filletted the thickest part of fillet is about 8mm thick. I take out all bones. The fish when tasted after 4 days was firm and had good taste. i think for good pickling sometines you have to wait a bit. (Sometimes hard) like wine you need a lot so you have some for later. Will comment in aweek or so.

  28. brian

    Mimi – if you ever come back to read this… i found this link for curry herring at the Poulsbo Marina Market…

  29. Milla Akimova

    We never used vinegar for pickled herring. I always add whey from raw soured milk & salt, and leave it to ferment in a warm place for a day, then move it to the fridge. I think vinegar is just an imitation of the acidity created via lacto-fermentation.

  30. Andrea Mynard

    Have some very fresh mackerel I’m about to try this recipe with. Planning a Scandinavian inspired feast with lots of home-grown/local ingredients for big family meal over Christmas hols. Hoping a bit of preserving and pickling now will make for a relaxed day next week. Thanks for lots of inspiration.

  31. mike

    Just went ice fishing yesterday in Sweden (ljungskile) and caught 84 herring 🙂 Got alot of Pickling to do… preserve em till i get back to Cyprus.. anyone have any other good herring recipes?

  32. Matte Gray

    It’s herring season in San Francisco, and the commercial harvest here takes only the roe for sushi and grinds the rest up for chicken feed, what a waste. Still, i managed to get a few pounds and tried this recipe. Wow. It makes the best pickled herring i ever ate. Many thanks.

  33. Elbow Deep in Herring Spawn

    […] recipe we used, from Hunter, Gather, Cook begins with the fish already filleted. Ulysses, an avid fly fish­erman, deftly demon­strated how […]

  34. Steve

    Again, Anyone have info on processing pickled herring so they will keep without refrigeration? Hot-pack or pressure canning?

  35. jesse

    Im using shad . should it be skined ?

  36. jesse

    I have no choice,we cannot keep herring because of the fishing regulations I have to use hickory shad , should i skin them before pickling ?

  37. Phil Corrin

    Grew up on the Isle of Man where herring was the main source of protein. My mother made the Manx version of pickled herring. The herring were boned, rolled and cooked in a mixture of vinegar, water, sugar and spices, in the oven, Result were beautifully firm and tasty fish usually eaten cold with salad.Probably Australian pilchards could be used in this manner

  38. Keith Woolsey

    Used above recipe with Aussie Herring (West Australia) – also known as Tommy Rough in Eastern States. Comes out well. Yum on a good dark rye bread with beer (Aussie of course!)

  39. James

    Hi Hank,

    Wonderful recipe, but I’d like to store without the expense of refrigeration.

    Can you recommend a reliable source of canning information for pickled herring?

  40. John Thorburn

    Great recipe we have large schools of mackerel off the Farne Island’s Caught 50-60 this week after friends had some Marinaded the rest delicious

  41. Herring Season

    […] fillets in jars with red onion and lemon slices and poured a pickling solution over them, following this Swedish recipe. Here they […]

  42. Jack Taylor

    Do you have to wash the brine off the herring when you brine it yourself, as stated in the recipe?

  43. It’s a Smorgasbord: Menu Essentials for a Swedish Spread | Rue La La

    […] Pickled Herring Choose mustard, onion, garlic, or dill flavors for this tasty fish. […]

  44. Sue Sullivan

    To Ken Albala – You can probably catch Jack Smelt from a pier in Stockton, they are very like herring and bite well on raw shrimp or bacon. Fishing from a pier in Bodega Bay, CA, two people brought in 27 fish between a foot and 18″ long, in one morning. Pickled with onion and lemon per the Glasmastersil recipe, they filled 10 quart mason jars with tasty beauty! I tasted them on day two and found them edible but the bones had not yet dissolved. We cut up our Jack Smelt into quarter inch thick steaks. The Fish and Game website says pickling does not kill roundworms, so microwave the fish on high for two minutes and let them cool before serving them.
    Leave out half the sugar in this recipe for a more savory fish.
    If you have a garden, put the heads, tails, and guts in a covered bucket with water and let it decay into liquid fish. Dilute this heavily with more water before using it on your garden. Corn and pumpkins prosper with some of this fertilizer a couple of times a month through the summer.
    While fishing, I saw a big halibut chasing the small smelt. You might want to bring two rods, one for smelt and one with a halibut rig, if you go fishing for your pickling fish.

  45. Kendra Valentine (@MissKendraV)

    This recipe is great! I live in Sweden and it was right on for my guests at Midsummer. I also made a special fusion flavor for herring for Jul (Christmas) it’s a spicy Korean Kimchee herring… really good! I make a video for it… you can find that and the recipe on my blog here:

  46. Gary Fleener

    Just caught some herring at Richmond Point with my son. Sabikis were the ticket. Half the catch went to these pickles, half to the smoker following your recipe in the book. Great eats! Thanks!!

  47. Colorful Canary

    Thanks for the recipe! Looks delish! I featured it on my blog:

  48. Pete the swede

    GREAT blog! Now, SILL (herring). Commonly, we use ready-brined sill. It should be really salty, so it has to be rinsed for a few hours (or change to fresh water every half hour). Taste the fish. It should be salty, but edible. Then, put it the brine, which is made of 3 parts water, 2 parts sugar and 1 part attika (see below). This sits for two days in the fridge. Now you can make the actual sill. It’s the acidity and the salt that makes it able to store, but the traditional swedish herring is also quite sweet. We use something called “attika” or “attikssprit” instead of vinegar. This is sort of a vinegar on really illegal steroids. There are two common brands: Winborgs and Perstorp. If you live in a big city (or in Minnesota) you could probably find this in the US. This is kinda important if you want the geniune swedish taste!

    The classical swedish flavourings include: yellow or red unions, horseradish, leeks, bayleaf, allspice, mustard seeds, dill, whole pepper, carrots and cloves. There are no rules. We are not italians here. There has actually been some crazy sill variations seen on christmas tables the last ten years. Asian style, with cilantro, lime and chili. Vanilla, BBQ-sauce, pesto and mango are all experiments that should have stayed on the idea stage… My personal favorites include all sorts of “creamy” sill. These will store only for a day or two in the fridge – but you probably won’t have to. For example: acidic red apple, plenty-o-fresh-grated-horseradish, chives and sourcream. Or caviar, creme fraiche, chopped red union and dill!

    One well hidden secret is the matjessill. Originally dutch, it is now a very common sill on the swedish midsummer. If you find it, try this recipe and nothing else. You will die and go to heaven: Matjessill, hard boiled eggs, finely chopped red onion, fresh dill, and the most important: plenty of well browned butter on top. Serve with fresh potatoes. Aaahh.
    Good luck 🙂

  49. Darren

    I just caught a bunch of herring from the Long Island Sound and have the fillets in brine as per your recipe. Do you brine and pickle fresh fillets? I’ve seen a few warnings about needing to freeze or cook the fillets to kill any parasites. What are your thoughts? Are these warnings only for freshwater fish?

  50. Darren

    Thanks, Hank- Into the jars they go!

  51. Bill

    Caught a lot of herring about a week ago in the Long Island sound (great fishing). I had them in brine for a day then put them in the pickling solution . How long should I wait before eating and how long will they last?

  52. Tasha

    Can the sugar be left out of this recipe?

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