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Orange kipper

An Orange kipper is a kipper which has been dyed orange. Kipper is the term given to a whole fish, usually herring, split, gutted (but not boned) and salted before being hung over smouldering woodchips (usually oak) for up to 24 hours.


The dyeing of kippers was introduced as an economy measure in the First World War by avoiding the need for the long smoking processes. This allowed the kippers to be sold quickly, easily and for a substantially greater profit. Kippers were originally dyed using a coal tar dye called Brown FK (the FK is an abbreviation of 'For Kippers'), Kipper Brown or Kipper Dye.

During the period between the First and Second World Wars, fishermen returning from sea would indicate whether or not the fish to be landed would be suitable for dyeing by shouting OK [Orange Kippers] on arrival. Although the origin of OK and Okay dates from much further back and from America, it was only during the period between the two wars that the term gained widespread usage in the UK.

Modern times

Today kippers are usually brine dyed using a natual dye (annato) giving the fish a deeper orange/yellow colour. European Community legislation limits the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of Brown FK to 0.15mg/kg.

Not all fish caught are suitable for the dyeing process with mature fish more readily sought because the density of their flesh which improves the take up of the dye.

External links

  • E154 Brown FK
  • The week the lowly kipper became a political animal
  • Nicky Duffy, Guardian Unlimited

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Orange_kipper". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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