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Old 07-06-2016, 04:15 PM   #1
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Pickling Herrings: Sensible?

I really really like pickled herrings and would love to pickle my own. However, I am slightly afraid of eating what is effectively raw fish I have prepared myself. I usually get my fish at the nearby Tesco fish counter, but I am unsure exactly how old they are when sold.

Does anyone have any experience in this, especially in the context of buying the fish from a supermarket rather than a fishmonger? (which, for the South coast of England, are surprisingly thin on the ground).

I wonder if brining and then submerging in vinegar for days on end would do well to make it edible?!

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Old 07-06-2016, 06:04 PM   #2
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When preserving food, it's important to only use tested recipes. Of course, you should use fish that's as fresh as possible. Ask at the fish counter how often it's delivered and whether it's been frozen. I don't know about in England, but in the United States, most fish at the grocery store was frozen when it was caught and thawed before being put out for sale.

Here's one recipe: http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/fo.../pickled-fish/
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Old 07-07-2016, 11:32 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Suthseaxa View Post
I really really like pickled herrings and would love to pickle my own. However, I am slightly afraid of eating what is effectively raw fish I have prepared myself. I usually get my fish at the nearby Tesco fish counter, but I am unsure exactly how old they are when sold.

Does anyone have any experience in this, especially in the context of buying the fish from a supermarket rather than a fishmonger? (which, for the South coast of England, are surprisingly thin on the ground).

I wonder if brining and then submerging in vinegar for days on end would do well to make it edible?!
I think it may depend on how the herrings are pickled.

I use Delia Smith's recipe for "Soused Herrings" from "Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course", (it's in some of her other books too and the recipe is on line). The herrings are not cooked (ie with heat). They take 48 hours to pickle and will keep in the 'fridge for up to a week (if you can bear to leave them that long). The resulting herrings are absolutely delicious and I've been eating them for 30 years or so with no ill effects.

The herrings must be really spankingly fresh so I wouldn't buy them from a supermarket - you don't know how long they have been hanging about.. A good independent fishmonger with a regular turn over and a reputation to preserve is your best bet. A proper fishmonger will make less of a pig's ear of boning the fish for you than the mass production set-up used by the supermarket's suppliers.

Many nationalities have versions of fish "cooked" in similar ways.

I'm in England too and I'm surprised that there is a dearth of proper fishmongers on the south coast. You used to be able to buy straight off the boats in places like Hastings or the Cornish fishing ports. (I haven't been down there for a few years so don't know whether this is still possible).
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Old 07-07-2016, 02:42 PM   #4
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Would you care to share the recipe you use, Mad Cook? Please.


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Old 07-07-2016, 03:40 PM   #5
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The closest fishmonger for me is on Eastbourne seafront, which is reasonably close as the crow flies, but is a bit of a pain to get to really. It's quite a shame that I have none nearer to me.

The recipe I intended to use was brining them and then submerging in vinegar (either spirit or cider)
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Old 07-07-2016, 03:48 PM   #6
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The recipe I intended to use was brining them and then submerging in vinegar (either spirit or cider)
Is that an actual recipe, or just an idea you had? Did you look at the recipe I posted?

I'm not sure the fish would be edible after submerging it in straight vinegar for any length of time. Straight vinegar is very strongly flavored, which is why it's generally diluted when used in pickling.
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Old 07-07-2016, 04:15 PM   #7
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It's an amalgamation of my own ideas and a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe.

I'm not really looking for cooked fish, hence my concern for their freshness.
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Old 07-07-2016, 05:21 PM   #8
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Well, all I can suggest is what I said before: ask at the fish counter how often the fish is delivered and whether it's been frozen. Also tell them what you want to do with it. If it was frozen, then it should be fine.
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Old 07-08-2016, 09:56 AM   #9
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Would you care to share the recipe you use, Mad Cook? Please.


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Charlie, if you Google "Delia Smith "Soused Herrings"" it's there. Here's the link

Soused Herrings | Recipes | Delia Online

It gives amounts for 6 herrings which is enough for me but I've no doubt you could make more. Not sure if the ingredients are kosher but I expect you can sort that out.

I think allspice has a different name in the USA (if I'm wrong blame the PW) but I can't remember what it's called. According to Wikipaedia, other names are Jamaica pepper, pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta,Turkish Yenibahar, or newspice and it's latin name is "Pimenta dioica".

You've got me in the mood now. I'll be calling on the fishmonger tomorrow!
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Old 07-08-2016, 10:28 AM   #10
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I made graavlax from salmon I had caught on Lake Huron. I froze it first in order to deal with any possible parasites. I don't know if you need to do that with herring.

I will be interested to hear how your herring turns out.
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