Pickled herring

Valentine Warner shows how to preserve 'silver darlings' for snacking, eating on picnics, or serving as a tangy starter
By Valentine Warner
Pickled herring
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus standing and maturing time
  • Effort: easy


  • 6 herring fillets, skin on
  • 3 heaped tbsp sea salt
  • 500 ml white wine vinegar
  • 150-200 g caster sugar
  • 1 large onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, very thinly sliced
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 8 juniper berries
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds


1. Lay the herring fillets skin-side down on a plate, sprinkle the sea salt over their flesh side and leave them to firm up for at least 1 hour, 2 hours if possible.

2. Combine the vinegar, sugar, onion, carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries, fennel, coriander and mustard seeds in a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 5 minutes then set aside to cool.

3. Once your herring are nice and firm, rinse the salt away, pat dry and cut the fillets in half. Take a medium-sized jar with an airtight lid and put 3 pieces of herring in the bottom. Place a handful of the cooked onion and carrots on top. Repeat these layers until the jar is full.

4. Pour the spiced vinegar into the jar until it is three-quarters full. Give the jar a gentle tap to settle then pour in more spiced vinegar to fill.

5. Seal the jar and store in a cool, dry place without opening for at least a week. Once opened, refrigerate and consume within 1 week. Unopened the pickled herring will keep in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks.

Rate This Recipe