Tanned smoked herring from the Oeconomia

I had no idea you could do this.

Of Spickhering, how you should make it

(Marginalia: Spickhering, how it is to be made)

The herring catch is around this time (February), then you buy a tun of fresh herring as it comes out of the water that is nicely fat and well salted. Lay it in water for a night or two. Take oak bark and boil it so that all the juice comes out. Then pour off the water (used for desalination) and lay the herring into that (the oak bark water). Let it lie in there for half an hour and then hang it into the smoke. This is called a spickhering and it is quite useful around the house. When the servants go into the fields, you give them such a herring into the hand, and they can bite on that. It is a good food for peasants and the burgher also happily eats it.

I have seen women in Stralsund buy seven large baskets such as they carry on their backs for one taler. They prepare them this way and thus use them throughout the entire year.

p. 31 (36 in pdf)

This is interesting. I have no idea whether it is wise or tasty, but some children like chewing on vegetable-tanned leather so the aroma has its attractions. Certainly it is not a refined dish. But a single Baltic herring seems an inadequate portion of protein for a day’s work in the field.

Johann Coler’s Oeconomia ruralis et domestica was a popular book on the topic of managing a wealthy household. It is based largely on previous writings by Coler and first appeared between 1596 and 1601. Repeatedly reprinted for decades, it became one of the most influential early works of Hausväterliteratur. I am working from a 1645 edition.

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