Herring: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fossil range: 55–0 Ma

Early Eocene to Present[1]
Atlantic Herring
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Clupeiformes
Family: Clupeidae
Subfamily: Clupeinae
Genus: Clupea
Linnaeus, 1758

Clupea harengus
Clupea pallasii

Herring is an oily fish of the genus Clupea, found in the shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans, including the Baltic Sea.[2] Two species of Clupea are recognized, the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) and the Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), each which may be divided into subspecies. Herrings are forage fish moving in vast schools, coming in spring to the shores of Europe and America, where they are caught, salted and smoked.



The two species of Clupea belong to the larger family Clupeidae (herrings, shads, sardines, menhadens), which comprises some 200 species, which all share similar features. They are silvery colored fish that have a single dorsal fin, which is soft, without spines. They have no lateral line and have a protruding lower jaw. Their size varies between subspecies: the Baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras) is small, 14 to 18 centimeters, the proper Atlantic herring (C. h. harengus) can grow to about 46 cm (18 inches) and weigh up 700 g (1.5 pounds), and Pacific herring grow to about 38 cm (15 inches).


Predators of adult herring include seabirds, dolphins, porpoises, striped bass, seals, sea lions, whales. Sharks, dog fish, tuna, cod, salmon, halibut and other large fish also feed on adult herring. Many of these also prey on juvenile herring.


See Atlantic herring for videos of feeding juvenile herring, catching copepods.


Young herring feed on phytoplankton and as they mature they start to consume larger organisms. Adult herring feed on zooplankton, tiny animals that are found in oceanic surface waters, and small fish and fish larvae. Copepods and other tiny crustaceans are the most common zooplankton eaten by herring. During daylight herring stay in the safety of deep water, feeding at the surface only at night when there is less chance of predation. They swim along with their mouths open, filtering the plankton from the water as it passes through their gills.


Commercial herring catch

Herring are an important economic fish. Adults are harvested for their meat and eggs. In Southeast Alaska herring is sold as baitfish. Environmental Defense suggests Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) as one of the more environmentally responsible fish.[1]



Fried herring with mashed potatoes

Herring has been a staple food source since 3000 B.C. There are numerous ways the fish is served and many regional recipes: eaten raw, fermented, pickled, or cured by other techniques. The fish was sometimes known as "two-eyed steak".


Herring are very high in the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.[3] They are a source of vitamin D.

Large Baltic herring slightly exceeds recommended limits with respect to PCB and dioxin.[citation needed] Nevertheless, the health benefits from the fatty acids are possibly more important than the risk from dioxins. However, this has not been proved and is based solely on theory - one needs to be aware that dioxins are carcinogenic agents. Some sources point out that cancer-reducing effect of omega-3 fatty acids is statistically stronger than the cancer-causing effect of PCBs and dioxins[4], but there is lack of scientific evidence to back this up. The contaminant levels depend on the age of the fish which can be inferred from their size. Baltic herrings larger than 17 cm may be eaten twice a month, while herrings smaller than 17 cm can be eaten freely.[5]

Pickled herring

Pickled herring, sour cream and chopped Chives, potatoes and an egg half served at midsummer.

Pickled herring is a delicacy in Europe, and has become a part of Baltic, Scandinavian, German, Eastern Slavic and Jewish cuisine. Most cured herring uses a two-step curing process. Initially, herring is cured with salt to extract water. The second stage involves removing the salt and adding flavorings, typically a vinegar, salt, sugar solution to which ingredients like peppercorn, bay leaves and raw onions are added. In recent years also other flavors have been added due to foreign influences. However, the tradition is strong in Sweden. Onion, sherry, mustard and dill are some of the traditional flavourings. Very small quantities of the exotic flavourings are sold. An overwhelming majority of Swedes prefers the traditional flavourings.

In Scandinavia, once the pickling process is finished and depending on which of the dozens of classic herring flavourings (mustard, onion, garlic, lingonberries etc.) are selected, it is eaten with dark rye bread, crisp bread, sour cream, or potatoes. This dish is common at Christmas, Easter and Midsummer, where it is eaten with akvavit.

In the Middle Ages the Dutch developed a special treat known in English as soused herring or rollmops.

Pickled herring is common in Russian cuisine, where it can be served as simple as just cut into pieces seasoned with sunflower oil and onions, or can be part of herring salads, which are usually prepared with vegetables and seasoned with mayonnaise dressing.[6]

Pickled herrings are common in Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine, perhaps best known for forshmak salad known in English simply as "chopped herring". In Poland it is known as "Sledzie".

Pickled herring can also be found in the cuisine of Hokkaidō in Japan, where families traditionally preserved large quantities for winter.


The word Rollmops, borrowed from German, refers to a pickled herring fillet rolled (hence the name) into a cylindrical shape around a piece of pickled gherkin or an onion.


In Sweden, Baltic herring ("Strömming") is fermented to make surströmming.


Raw herring roe is often used for sushi or eaten by itself

A typical Dutch delicacy is Hollandse Nieuwe (Dutch New), which is raw herring from the catches around the end of spring and the beginning of summer. This is typically eaten with raw onion. Hollandse nieuwe is only available in spring when the first seasonal catch of herring is brought in. This is celebrated in festivals such as the Vlaardingen Herring Festival and Vlaggetjesdag in Scheveningen. The new herring are frozen and enzyme-preserved for the remainder of the year. The first barrel of Hollandse Nieuwe is traditionally sold at auction for charity.

Herring is also canned and exported by many countries. A sild is an immature herring that is canned as sardines in Iceland, Sweden, Norway or Denmark.

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

Other means

Dutch street-side herring stall
Medieval herring fishing in Scania (published 1555).

In Scotland the herring is traditionally filleted and after being coated in seasoned pin-head oatmeal is fried in a pan with butter or oil. This dish is usually served with "crushed" buttered boiled potatoes. A kipper is a split and smoked herring, a bloater is a whole smoked herring and a buckling is a hot smoked herring with the guts removed. All are staples of British cuisine. According to George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier, the Emperor Charles V erected a statue to the inventor of bloaters.

In Northfield, Minnesota, kippered herring is a popular pizza topping.

Smoked herring is a traditional meal on the Danish island in the Baltic Sea, Bornholm. This is also the case in Sweden where You also can get hard fried/smoked "Strömming" named "Sotare" in places like Skansen, Stockholm. In Sweden, herring soup is also a traditional dish.

In Southeast Alaska, western hemlock boughs are cut and placed in the ocean before the herring arrive to spawn. The fertilized herring eggs stick to the boughs, and are easily collected. After being boiled briefly the eggs are removed from the bough. Herring eggs collected in this way are eaten plain or in herring egg salad. This method of collection is part of Tlingit tradition.

See also


  • Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). Species of Clupea in FishBase. January 2006 version.
  • O'Clair, Rita M. and O'Clair, Charles E., "Pacific herring," Southeast Alaska's Rocky Shores: Animals. pg. 343-346. Plant Press: Auke Bay, Alaska (1998). ISBN 0-9664245-0-6

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HERRING (Clupea harengus, Haring in German, le hareng in French, sill in Swedish), a fish belonging to the genus Clupea, of which more than sixty different species are known in various parts of the globe. The sprat, pilchard or sardine and shad are species of the same genus. Of all sea-fishes Clupeae are the most abundant; for although other genera may comprise a greater variety of species, they are far surpassed by Clupea with regard to the number of individuals. The majority of the species of Clupea are of greater or less utility to man; it is only a few tropical species that acquire, probably from their food, highly poisonous properties, so as to be dangerous to persons eating them. But no other species equals the common herring in importance as an article of food or commerce. It inhabits in incredible numbers the North Sea, the northern parts of the Atlantic and the seas north of Asia. The herring inhabiting the corresponding latitudes of the North Pacific is another species, but most closely allied to that of the eastern hemisphere. Formerly it was the general belief that the herring inhabits the open ocean close to the Arctic Circle, and that it migrates at certain seasons towards the northern coasts of Europe and America. This view has been proved to be erroneous, and we know now that this fish lives throughout the year in the vicinity of our shores, but at a greater depth, and at a greater distance from the coast, than at the time when it approaches land for the purpose of spawning.

Herrings are readily recognized and distinguished from the other species of Clupea by having an ovate patch of very small teeth on the vomer (that is, the centre of the palate). In the dorsal fin they have from 17 to 20 rays, and in the anal fin from 16 to 18; there are from 53 to 59 scales in the lateral line and 54 to 56 vertebrae in the vertebral column. They have a smooth gill-cover, without those radiating ridges of bone which are so conspicuous in the pilchard and other Clupeae. The sprat cannot be confounded with the herring, as it has no teeth on the vomer and only 47 or 48 scales in the lateral line.

The spawn of the herring is adhesive, and is deposited on rough gravelly ground at varying distances from the coast and always in comparatively shallow water. The season of spawning is different in different places, and even in the same district, e.g. the east coast of Scotland, there are herrings spawning in spring and others in autumn. These are not the same fish but different races. Those which breed in winter or spring deposit their spawn near the coast at the mouths of estuaries, and ascend the estuaries to a considerable distance at certain times, as in the Firths of Forth and Clyde, while those which spawn in summer or autumn belong more to the open sea, e.g. the great shoals that visit the North Sea annually.

Herrings grow very rapidly; according to H. A. Meyer's observations, they attain a length of from 17 to 18 mm. during the first month after hatching, 34 to 36 mm. during the second, 45 to 50 mm. during the third, 55 to 61 mm. during the fourth, and 65 to 72 mm. during the fifth. The size which they finally attain and their general condition depend chiefly on the abundance of food (which consists of crustaceans and other small marine animals), on the temperature of the water, on the season at which they have been hatched, &c. Their usual size is about 12 in., but in some particularly suitable localities they grow to a length of 15 in., and instances of specimens measuring 17 in. are on record. In the Baltic, where the water is gradually losing its saline constituents, thus becoming less adapted for the development of marine species, the herring continues to exist in large numbers, but as a dwarfed form, not growing either to the size or to the condition of the North-Sea herring. The herring of the American side of the Atlantic is specifically identical with that of Europe. A second species (Clupea leachii) has been supposed to exist on the British coast; but it comprises only individuals of a smaller size, the produce of an early or late spawn. Also the so-called "white-bait" is not a distinct species, but consists chiefly of the fry or the young of herrings and sprats, and is obtained "in perfection" at localities where these small fishes find an abundance of food, as in the estuary of the Thames.

Several excellent accounts of the herring have been published, as by Valenciennes in the 10th vol. of the Histoire naturelle des poissons, and more especially by Mr J. M. Mitchell, The Herring, its Natural History and National Importance (Edinburgh, 1864). Recent investigations are described in the Reports of the Fishery Board for Scotland, and in the reports of the German Kommission zur Untersuchung der Deutschen Meere (published at Kiel). (J. T. C.)

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Simple English

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Superclass: Osteichthyes
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Clupeiformes
Family: Clupeidae
Genus: Clupea
Linnaeus, 1758

A herring is a type of small teleost fish. Best-known of this family is probably the Atlantic Herring.There are 15 different kinds of herring. When herrings move in the water they usually do this in large numbers; this is then called a schoal (like with other fish. They behave like this for protection.

Herrings can be eaten. Usual ways to make food from herring is to smoke or pickle it.

A red herring is used to describe a plot device in mystery fiction that leads the reader to a wrong solution.


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