[Sca-cooks] kippering

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Sun Jun 21 22:49:35 PDT 2009

Adamantius replied to me with:
Stefan: While the term "kippered" goes back to 12th century or so,  
what we
think of as "kippered" fish or "kippers" apparently dates to just
the 19th century and refers to a lightly smoked fish, one where the
smoking is mostly for flavor. This fish required the speed of the
railroads to transport it to market before it spoiled since there
wasn't enough smoking to add much preservation qualities.

Adamantius: I dunno about that; real kippered herring from Scotland  
are pretty
powerful critters, and really should be soaked a bit before cooking
and eating. Mostly it's salt, rather than a heavy smoking, but it's
not like there's no preservative action taking place. Smoke, per se,
isn't much of a preservative on its own; it has some antibacterial and
insect repellent qualities, but it's the salting and drying that
generally accompany it that usually do most of the work. Unless you're
talking about canned kipper snack fillets, for which the main
preservation process is... canning.

Okay, For once I can find where I read this. From the same book I  
mentioned, "Fish on Friday, Feasting, Fasting and the Discovery of the  
New World", p 47, 48.

The footnote on p 47:
"A note on herring terminology for uninitiated readers: the kipper is  
lightly salted then smoked, the word coming from "kippering", a 1326  
verb that means "to cure a fish by cleaning, salting and spicing it"  
Kippers and bloaters were associated with Yarmouth, England, but were  
produced all along the eastern English coast, especailly in  
Northumberland, where the kippering process was invented in the 1840s."

On page 48:

"John Woodger of Seahouses in Northumberland invented the kippering  
process in the 1840s. A relatively mild cure, it was ideal in an era  
when rail transportation wafted herrings from smoker to kitchen in a  
few hours.  Such light preservation would have been unthinkable in  
earlier times,, when fish took days, even weeks or months to reach  
their destination. The waters of the Baltic, English Channel, and the  
North Sea teemed with aquatic life, but the catch couldn't travel.  
Only a few kilometers inland, a fresh catch would being to smell,  
leaving the seller with no option but to throw it away. So sea fish  
had inseperable partners p drying racks, salt and the smokehouse.

Breakfast kippers are fat herrings, salted and smoked lightly to  
preserve their delicate flavor and texture. There's a world of  
difference between the salting and smoking that create fine food and  
the heavy salting that preserves it, as in medieval times, when shelf  
life was the primary consideration and people ate fish intensively at  
certain times of the year. By the twelth century, the devout who dined  
on fish during Lent almost invariably consumed a dried, salted or  
smoked catch."

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas          StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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