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All you wanted to know about pickled herring…

I am a huge fan of herring. I could easily eat only the herring at Easter, Midsummer and Christmas Eve celebrations …

I like to pickle the herring myself, but the strange thing is that I usually only do it for these few occasions. I should be pickleing herring several times during the year, but I rarely do it even though it is so simple.

With a creamy sauce flavored with your favorite ingredients, you have a delicious herring in just a few minutes.


Creamy sauces you mix either creme fraishe, mayonnaise, turkish yogurt, sour cream, or try the new soured cream Smetana. I usually mix equal parts sour cream with mayonnaise. Then you can spice with flavors like mustard, Dijon mustard, chilli, curry, pepper, paprika or whatever spice you like.
Decide for one of the spices as the basic seasoning. Then add the onion – like scallions, red onions, leeks or chives. I like to use two different type of onions, such as leeks and red onion.
A herring I have made a few times is Jalapenjo sill. The green jalapenjo together with honey, and crème fraishe is delicious.
Other ingridients that fits well in creamy herrings are dill, trout roe, white fish roe or caviar.
The creamy five-minute herring sauce is ready to be eaten immediately, but will be tastier if it is allowed to rest overnight to infuse the flavors.


Herring in brine that you find on the shelf in the store, is also an option for those who want spice their own herring.
The first thing you need to do is to make an infusion. The classic infusion is a 1-2-3! That means 1 part vinegar (12%), 2 parts sugar and three parts water. Heat up until the sugar has dissolved . Now it is ready to spice.

For example, you can use allspice, cloves, black pepper, pink pepper, bay leaves, horseradish, ginger. Add the spices to the infusion and place it in a cold place.
When it has cooled, you can add onions of your choice or other flavorings such as sun-dried tomatoes, basil, zest of lemon or orange.
There are more modern infusions today, for example, where you use 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent sugar. A little sharper variation, but delicious.


To truly make a pickled herring from scratch, you buy fresh herring fillets. They need to be put in water and salt first, ie put in a brine to draw the liquid out of them, and then inserted into the infusion with the spices, herbs and onions. Put the herring in brine and place in the fridge for one day (2 cups vinegar (12
%), 6 cups water, 3 tsp salt)

Here you can see how I do it from scratch.

MATJESILL Pickled Herring

Matjessill pickled herring is a herring stored in a barrel before being cleaned and packed in tins with a speciell seasoning, consisting of sugar, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.

Often sandalwood is added in the seasoning. It is originally from Holland and the word derived from the Dutch name Maatjesharing meaning “virgin herring”.
I think matjesillen is a more adult herring in a way. I did not like it until I was an adult, but now it is a favorite.
A piece of matjessill with fresh new potatoes and browned butter is one of my favorites and amazingly delicious.
Another favorite is sherry herring. A real ladies dish which I love.


Anchovies are a spicy preserved herring made by sprat. It is a cool flavor and can be used to flavor mince meat, for example. I use it in my meatballs.

A favorite that I always make for my herring table, is Grandma Wretman anchovies. A recipe by Tore Wretman where he actually uses ketchup in the tomato sauce.

Yes, what is it called really? In Sweden we have two names for the same fish – strömming and sill – (Herring) It is said that old fisherman believed in the past that strömmingen was a Baltic Herring who refused to swim south of the harbor Kristianopel in Northeast Blekinge. Strömming is the Baltic Herring landed north of the southern part of Kalmar and it’s really thus only a linguistic name change of the same thing. In the souther parts of Sweden we say -sill.

A good tasting herring and a well chilled snaps are a match made in heaven. I usually drink OP Andersson snaps to my herring, but here I made a chrismas recipe where I created an all-in-one-herring. Herring and snaps in the same glass. It was a really good combination, well worth trying.

Here is my recipe of BRANTEVIKSSILL – Herring from Brantevik. My favourite!


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Pernilla Elmquist

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