How to preserve seafood by pickling

Pickling is the preservation or flavouring of food (cooked or raw) by immersing it into an acidic solution, which may also be salted or flavoured.

The essential ingredient of a pickling liquid is vinegar, often accompanied by salt. The pickling liquid can also be flavoured with sugar, spices or citrus juices, or even have a tomato or curry base.

pickled herring slad Pickled herring 

Equipment required

Sterile glass jars or other containers (never aluminium, iron or copper), preferably with non-rusting, airtight lids


Prepare the pickling liquid. A large variety of pickling liquids can be used for both cooked and raw seafood. A base pickling liquid might include:
- 1/2 cup of vinegar;
- 1/4 cup of white wine;
- juice of one lemon;
- one tablespoon of sugar;
- herbs and spices for added flavour.

Place cooked or raw seafood in the jar or container and cover with the pickling liquid. The liquid can be hot or cold, depending on the recipe.
Cover and store in the chiller for the required time.

pickled seafood in jars

Pickling times

The time required will depend on the quantity of seafood, and the intensity of the desired flavour.

Pickling tip

Mussels should be steamed and opened before pickling, and abalone, cuttlefish, squid and octopus should be tenderised and par-boiled before pickling.