Fish school of herrings.
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The herring is a type of small oily fish found in the temperate, shallow waters of the North Atlantic. A smaller variant called the baltic herring lives in the Baltic Sea. more...

The herring is composed of nearly 200 species that are grouped together under the genus Clupea, the most abundant of which is the Atlantic herring (English herring) (Clupea harengus). more...

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Herrings move in vast schools, coming in spring to the shores of Europe and America, where they are caught, salted and smoked in great quantities.

A study conducted in 2003 at the University of British Columbia suggests that herrings might communicate by flatulence. . This study won the Ig Nobel Prize in 2004.



All of the nearly 200 species of herring in the family clupeidae share similar distinguishing features. They are silvery colored fish that have a single dorsal fin. Unlike most other fish, they have soft dorsal fins that lack spines, though some species have pointed scales that form a serrated keel. They have no lateral line and also have a protruding lower jaw somewhat like a bulldogs. Their overall size varies greatly from species to species; the Atlantic herring can grow to about 18 inches in length and weigh up to 1.5 pounds as compared to the Tropical Tarpon (Tarpon Atlanticus) which can grow to a length of 80 inches (approx 8 feet) and weigh up to 200 pounds (91 kg).






Herring have been a staple food source, especially for northern Europeans, back to 3000 B.C. There are numerous ways the fish is served and many regional recipes: eaten raw, fermented, pickled, or cured by other techniques.

Environmental Defense suggests Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) to be the most Ecological choice for eating.

Pickled herring

A very popular Scandinavian food item, pickled herring has been around for a long time. In preparation herring are cut into fillets and placed in a vinegar/salt/sugar solution to which peppercorn, bay leaves and raw onions are added. Once the pickling process is finished they are usually enjoyed on a dark rye bread slice. This dish is a must at Christmas and Midsummer, where it is enjoyed with a snaps.

In Germany, North Sea herring is pickled to make Matjes, or soused herring.


In the United States, pickled herring is often sold and consumed in a sour-cream based sauce, as well as in the more traditional wine- and vinegar-based marinades. These are known as rollmops.

In Scandinavian rollmop is formed by wrapping the herring around a piece of pickled cucumber and then skewered with a toothpick.


In Sweden, Baltic herring is fermented to make surströmming.


A typical Dutch delicacy is raw herring (actually enzyme-cured) with raw shredded onions. To stop parasites, the herring has to be deep-frozen before the curing process.

Herring is also canned and exported by many countries. A sild is an immature herring that are canned as sardines in Norway.

Very young herring are called whitebait and are eaten whole as a delicacy.

Other means

A kipper is a split and smoked herring, and a bloater is a whole smoked herring. Both are staples of British cuisine.

In Scandinavian, Herring soup is also a traditional soup.

Herring lore

Figuratively, a red herring is a false lead in a mystery. In this context, red means smoked, and a smoked herring has such a strong smell that it can be used to create a false scent that causes hunting dogs to lose a trail.

Here are videos of feeding juvenile herring, catching copepods: Atlantic herring.


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