Pickled Herring – On the Lookout for Swedish Food Traditions

What makes pickled herring so tasty? Admittedly, not everyone loves herring, so perhaps I should take that back. No, actually! Pickled herring is incredibly nice and can be varied in so many ways; by adding creamy sauces or using clear pickling liquids with onion, herbs and spices. I could go on describing all my favourites forever.

A Variety of Pickled Herring. Photo: Jonas Ingman

As we are approaching Midsummer with its delicate summer greenery, pickled herring is the perfect food. It tastes of Swedish summer.

There are more reasons to eat pickled herring. It is nutritious. The naturally oily flesh of the herring is particularly good for us, as it is rich in fats that are beneficial to our health. In the north of Bohuslän they also have the good sense to pickle mackerel in the same way that we pickle herring. By the way, pickling is a typically Swedish culinary technique. A good way to preserve fresh ingredients. It also adds its own very special flavour, which is both sweet and tangy at the same time.

Pickled Herring Buffet. Photo: Jonas Ingman

But before Midsummer comes our very own National Day. What a great opportunity to celebrate with pickled herring. Swedish food, steeped in tradition, and with a very long history. Boiled potatoes with sweet pickled herring, browned butter and finely chopped chives. Or another of my herring favourites – creamy caviar herring. Mix caviar with mayonnaise and crème fraiche to make a lovely salty mixture, and add leeks and dill. Then stir in onion-pickled herring (löksill) and serve on dark rye bread with a soft-boiled egg. Incredibly flavoursome and, in my mind, the perfect way to celebrate the Swedish National Day.

Pickled Herring. Photo: Jonas Ingman

There will be herring in every flavour imaginable, and very soon too. The reason is that on the National Day there will be a Herring Festival on Klädesholmen. The island has a long history of herring production, and the restaurant Salt och Sill serves varieties made to its very own amazing recipes. And I can promise you that this is still where they make the best sweet pickled herring I have ever tried.



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