Herring, or Clupea harengus, L. a well-known fish, generally about seven or eight inches long, though it sometimes grows to the length of a foot: it has four gills, the fibres of which are remarkably-long, and open very wide, so that this fish almost instantly dies, when taken out of water.
Herrings are found in greet abundance, from the highest northern latitudes, down to the. northern coast of France They are also met with in the Yarmouth seas from the end of August till the middle of October ; and are in full roe about the latter end of June, whence they continue in perfection till the beginning of winter, at which season they deposit their spawn.
Among the various methods em-ployed for salting or curing herrings, and sprats, we shall briefly notice one, invented by Mr. Benjamin Batley, of Streatham, Surrey, merchant; for which he obtained a patent in September, 1800. - After severing the head, and taking out the entrails of the fish, he salts the body with bay, rock, or common salt (if not sufficiently salted as sea-sticks, preferring, however, the bay or rock salt to the common, which is apt to absorb the pickle, and occasion the fish to rust. The patentee then prepares a pickle, consisting of one pound of bay salt, four ounces of salt-petre, from two to four pounds of molasses, and a gallon of spring-water ; which is boiled till the other ingredients are dissolved. The herrings are then packed as usual in a cask ; between every layer of them he sprinkles a small portion of salt, and also of pickle, to cover the fish ; but leaves three inches of the head of the cask un-stowed, in order to fill up that space with the pickle. When -beaded up, a cork-hole may be bored either in the head or centre of the cask, by means of which more pickle may, when necessary, be introduced, for the preservation of the fish. - With respect to the mode of curing sprats, the process differs in some particulars ; and those who wish to acquire more minute information on this subject, we refer to the 14th volume of the Repertory of Arts and Manufactures.
By the 22d Edw. IV. c. 2, no herring shall be sold in any vessel, unless the barrel contain 32 gallons ; and so in proportion the half barrel and firkin. Such fish are directed to be well packed, and ail of the same salting, and to be as good in the middle of the cask as at the ends, under the penalty of 3s. 4d. for each barrel, etc. Lastly, by the 15 Cvr.II c. 16, the vessels for herrings are to be marked with the quantity they contain, and the place where packed : sworn packers are likewise to be appointed in all fishing ports, on pain of forfeiting 1001..
Considered as an article of food, fresh herrings, if moderately eaten, afford nutriment sufficiently whole-some ; but, if taken in quantities disproportioned to the powers of digestion, they are attended with an alkaline putrid effect on the stomach. Farther, picked herrings are very improper food ; their flesh be-ing thus rendered hard, and scarcely digestible : nevertheless, even in that decomposed state, they are not so injurious as herrings salted and dried.