Nordic Inspired Irish Herring in Great Demand with High End Retailers and Restaurants

Kirsti O Kelly and Aileen Deasy, BIM's SDC

Kirsti O Kelly and Aileen Deasy, BIM's SDC

‘Silver Darlings’ is the brainchild of Ireland’s only herring pickler, Kirsti O Kelly. Originally from Finland, Kirsti was keen to introduce the Nordic speciality of pickled herrings to Irish consumers. With her family heritage of pickling fish, she knew what flavours worked well but she needed assistance regarding new product development and market dynamics.

Pictured are Kirsti O Kelly, Silver Darlings and Aileen Deasy, BIM

Following an extensive period of consultation with the team at Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM)’s Seafood Development Centre in Clonakilty on areas such as new product development, labelling and regulatory requirements, sourcing a herring supplier and advice on food safety management systems for her premises, the ‘Silver Darlings’ product was launched to the food service sector in March 2013.

Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength stocking some of Dublin and Cork’s high end retailers including Morton’s, Caviston’s of Glasthule, Robert’s of Dalkey, Wright’s of Howth, Fallon & Byrne, 64 Wine, the Real Olive Company Stalls in the Greater Dublin area and the English Market in Cork. They are also on restaurant menus in The Strand Hotel, Limerick, Kai restaurant in Galway and O’Connell’s Restaurant in Donnybrook, Dublin.

Sourced from Island Seafoods in Donegal, the herring are marinated in a combination of mild vinegars and spices which dissolve the herring bones and keep the integrity of the fish flesh, allowing it to take on the subtle flavours of aromatic spices like mustard seeds, sandalwood, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, pink peppercorns and fresh herbs such as dill, tarragon and coriander. Silver Darlings use 100% natural ingredients and 100% Irish herring.

Kirsti is glad she sought advice from BIM’s Seafood Development Centre (SDC) during the early stages of her business; ‘BIM gave me the boost of confidence I needed to get started. I was given invaluable advice and direction on product development, sourcing a good supplier and on all operational areas of the business including food safety management practices. Silver Darlings simply would not be here without the SDC’ The BIM innovation centre has the technology and facilities to allow companies to develop and test new innovative products before committing to capital expenditure.

Aileen Deasy, Seafood Technologist, BIM details how the SDC worked with Kirsti on this novel product; ‘Silver Darlings is a truly unique product using traditional methods but with a contemporary Scandinavian twist. Kirsti has amazing talent and drive, she was great to work with and we are delighted to see she is making such headway in the market place. By working with the SDC, she gained the knowledge she needed to get the product just right, produced and packaged safely and designed to attract the attention of customers and buyers. We have had so much positive feedback on this range of products I have no doubt Irish herring ‘Nordic style’ will be a huge success!’

Kirsti lives in Limerick with her husband Eoin and two daughters. She pickles her fish in Hospital, Co. Limerick ably assisted by local man Kevin Dollery. You can find her every Saturday at Limerick’s Milk Market.

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