Cornish Pichards



Cornish Pilchards, also known as sardines outside of Cornwall, Pilchards are small oily fish from the herring family. Sardines are an important part of Cornish Cuisince and were for centuries a staple of the Cornish diet.

Pilchard season traditionally starts shortly after the end of the grain harvest in the Autumn. Most Pilchards were processed by pressing and salting them in barrels. This processs created an oil which was used by some as oil for lamps. Fishing communities in Cornwall were notoriously smelly places because of the thick heavy smell of this oil being burnt as much as the smell of fish itself.

Plichards are delicious served fresh or preserved. It was common for both to be added to a stew containing potatoes and other root vegetables.

Smoked Pilchards were at one time common. The smoking process in question involved hanging the fish in the chimney to allow the Pilchards to become preserved.

One very popular way to serve Pilcards is to cook them in malt vinegar and tea.

Marinated Pilchards Recipe

  • 6 pilchards
  • Add bay leaves (number depending on preference).
  • Add pepper corns (number depending on preference).
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Quarter of a pint cold tea
  • Quarter of a pint of malt vinegar
  • Season with salt.

Cook for 30 mins in a hot oven and then leave them to cool before serving.

One thought on “Cornish Pichards

  1. Mother called this soused and used white vinegar and cook really slowly for several hours
    We didn’t have the tea just the bay leafs and white vinegar salt and pepper. once cooked they were OK for a week or so in the fridge and would have a jelly with them
    Happy days
    Malc Mccarthy

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