Preserving The Catch A Comprehensive Guide to Kippa Ring Fish

how to kipper fish


Preserving fish through traditional methods like the kippa ring has been practiced for centuries. Kippered fish offer a smoky, savory flavor that enhances their shelf life while retaining their nutritional value. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to kipper fish at home, ensuring a delectable and wholesome treat.

Understanding Kippa Ring 

Kippering is a method of preserving fish by smoking and drying them, which imparts a distinct smoky flavor and a longer shelf life. The process involves curing the fish with a brine solution and then exposing them to gentle smoke and heat. By following these steps, you can create your own kippered fish that can be enjoyed as a snack, added to salads, or used in various dishes.

Selecting the Right Fish

Begin by choosing the right fish for the kippa ring. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, or trout are ideal due to their rich flavor and high oil content. Ensure the fish is fresh and properly cleaned, removing scales and entrails. A whole fish or filets can be used, but larger fish may need to be fileted to ensure even curing and smoking.

Preparing the Brine Solution 

Create a brine solution by combining water, kosher salt, and optional seasonings like sugar, herbs, and spices. This solution not only adds flavor but also helps to draw out moisture from the fish, aiding in the preservation process. Submerge the fish in the brine, making sure they are fully covered, and refrigerate for several hours (typically 4-12 hours) depending on the fish’s size.


After brining, remove the fish from the solution and gently pat them dry with paper towels. Place the fish on a wire rack or a clean surface and allow them to air-dry for about an hour. This step forms a pellicle, a thin layer on the fish’s surface that aids in smoke absorption and prevents the fish from becoming too moist during smoking.

Preparing the Smoking Setup 

Set up your smoking apparatus according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Traditional smokers use wood chips or sawdust, such as oak, hickory, or applewood, to create the desired smoky flavor. Preheat the smoker to a temperature around 180-200°F (82-93°C) and ensure there is proper ventilation for the smoke to circulate.

Smoking the Fish

Place the air-dried fish onto the smoker’s racks, leaving enough space between them for proper air circulation. Smoke the fish for approximately 2-4 hours, depending on the fish’s thickness and your desired level of smokiness. Keep a close eye on the temperature to avoid overcooking. The fish should acquire a golden-brown color and a slightly firm texture when done.

Cooling and Storing

Once smoked, allow the kippered fish to cool at room temperature for an hour. After cooling, store the fish in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag. Refrigerate the kippered fish to ensure freshness. Properly stored kippered fish can last for several weeks, providing you with a tasty and nutritious snack or ingredient.


What makes fish kippered?

A kipper is a whole herring that has been sliced in half from head to tail, gutted, salted or pickled, then smoked. It’s this process that is known as kippering, one which gives us the expression “on tenterhooks”.

How are kippers prepared?

Kippers require very little cooking, and the best method is to gently poach them for no more than a few minutes.


Kippering fish is an artful combination of time-honored techniques and flavors. By selecting the right fish, preparing a flavorful brine, and patiently smoking the fish to perfection, you can relish the joys of homemade kippered fish. This preservation method not only imparts an irresistible smokiness but also extends the shelf life of your catch.

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