From the beginning herring was considered as food for the poor in Sweden. But when the resort culture flourished in the late 1800s it became fashionable to serve herring and vodka together. The combination has survived and is now a Swedish classic. In fact, today Swedish pickled herring of different kinds have a prominent place on the dining table in Sweden. Especially at festivals such as Christmas, Easter and Midsummer.
Here is our Christmas celebration which begins with a traditional "skål" with a snaps of vodka and some Swedish pickled herring on the plate.
It was mainly in Bohuslän herring fishery used to play an important economic role. Even today many large and small herring canneries still exist there. Like Klädesholmen, a small fishing village on two islands, where herring has been handled since the late 1500s. There is one herring factory left that manufactures canned herring based on tradition.In the early 1800s the herring disappeared suddenly and was gone for over half a century. But one winter day in 1877 it turned it up again.
Originally anchovy (stored sprat) was the only herring product that existed. But with the herrings return, so did a new kind of herring called "large herring". And by seasoning this new herring, a new product was created - spiced herring.
The first products of spiced herring were presented in 1889. There were small pieces of herring served in bite-size, perfect to just pick up and eat with a fork.The method to put herring in a pickle of salt, vinegar and spices was a way of preserving fish. Meaning, herring which has been filleting fresh and then left to mature in the marinade.
Nowadays there are tons of choices in flavours/pickles in stores to choose from.
In the small glass jars above is herring pickled in tomato, mustard and onions. In the big jar is home made pickled herring made by my aunt for this Christmas table.
Every year new flavours are put on the market, some recent ones are cranberry herring and orange herring. But my absolute favourite is the simple pickled onion herring.
I love to eat it with boiled potatoes, boiled egg and sour cream. Delicious, and sooo easy to make! Of course you can make Swedish pickled herring on your own (like my aunt does), but I have never made it though. It seems to take way to long, haha.