Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Shel_B

What's Happened to Canned Tuna?

Recommended Posts

I think you have to think of cheap supermarket tuna in cans, especially the chunk light, not the albacore, as sort of a tofu of fish in a can. It's kind of a background note of fishiness, but not substantial on its own.

The albacore tuna is good stuff and makes great sandwich fillings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So? They are both sold as canned tuna. I think it tastes better and I am not going to pay a fortune for imported tuna in olive oil.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could overfishing of tuna be affecting quality I wonder?

Was gonna make a point on this actually. I'm not surprised that canned tuna producers are cutting back - think about how much we've been eating canned tuna and for how long. I'm amazed that there's still any left in the oceans. Honestly I once bought a very expensive thing of tuna (i think in a jar), packed in oil, in a nice big whole chunk for a lot of money to see what the big deal between expensive and cheap canned tuna is. I honestly, could not tell the difference - it all taste like over cooked cat food to me, but then again, i really don't like canned tuna at all.

On a side note, a had a room mate that ate so much canned tuna he got mercury poisoning which i thought was kind of funny. He continues to eat it haha.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was very pleased with the American Tuna I found at my local Whole Foods after reading a review in Cook's Illustrated. The can was full of a large chunk of tuna with hardly any water that made large flakes. It even tasted like tuna. The last can of regular supermarket tuna I bought looked like catfood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been eating canned tuna for over 40 years. The only appreciable difference I've been able to find is between albacore and chunk light. The latter is most definately catfood. I also like my tuna packed in oil and it's really getting to be a bear to find it not packed in water.


Edited by annabelle (log)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been buying Tuna Guys Tuna for several years now.

It's hard to find unless you live in the Seattle area (which I don't) but they'll ship.

I've tried other brands like Italian packed in oil which is pretty good, but I like the Tuna Guys really well. They also have other types of tinned seafood available.

(have no vested interest in the company)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been buying Tuna Guys Tuna for several years now.

It's hard to find unless you live in the Seattle area (which I don't) but they'll ship.

I've tried other brands like Italian packed in oil which is pretty good, but I like the Tuna Guys really well. They also have other types of tinned seafood available.

(have no vested interest in the company)

Thanks for that link! Just ordered 1/2 case of their Spanish Style Yellowfin, and on sale for less than the $2/can I have to pay for "cat food" style tuna here in NY.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For whatever reasons, canned tuna quality has deteriorated.  Here, in Oregon, we have the blessing of a run of albacore that pass up the pacific coast each summer.  These fish are 15 to 25 pounds and readily take a lure.  The taste of these fish raw is sublime.  However, the shelf life of fresh tuna isn't very long.  Since we typically catch dozens at a time, we have to find ways of preserving it.  The favorite among my friends is pressure canning.  Typically in wide-mouth pint jars, we put up cases of tuna in marathon canning sessions.  The flavor of fresh canned tuna is amazing.  It lead me to ask how the commercials do it.  The normal commercial method is to steam or boil the tuna before putting it in the can.  That means the flavor has been rinsed from the fish before canning.  Yuck.

Home canning involves putting fresh, raw fish in the jar with a little oil, a micro-pinch of salt, sometimes some other flavors like jalapeno or lemon rind.  After having home canned tuna and understanding the commercial canning process, I have give up on "cat food" forever!

There are specialty canners who don't sterilize the fish before commercial canning ... seek those and avoid the big industrial canners.


Edited by fisherPete (log)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎12‎/‎22‎/‎2011 at 3:56 PM, Joe Blowe said:

For your standard lunch variety water-packed albacore, there's only one word you need to know: Kirkland.

 

 

Over the past year+ we've been visiting Costco about once a month, and some time back sweetie bought the described Kirkland tuna.  Not bad for a run-of-the-mill "commercial" product.  I'd certainly buy it again for certain preparations. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my local excuse for a market I can no longer find dark tuna packed in olive oil.  They used to carry it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very timely thread.

 

One big project which I'm looking to do and photoblog about it here on eGullet is making tuna confit for things like vitello tonnato and salade niçoise.

 

It'll be sometime within the next two weeks.  This upcoming weekend we have a dinner party that will take up most of my energy, LOL.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, huiray said:

I like Ortiz - my "standard" good canned tuna is now their Ortiz Bonito del Norte in olive oil in the oval cans.

 

 

This is my preferred oil-packed tuna as well. I usually buy it in bulk from Zingerman's every July when they have their annual sale (with lots of tinned fish at good prices) but I just noticed that you can get cases of 12 on Amazon (Prime) for even cheaper than the Zingerman's sale price.

 

For non-oil-packed tuna, my go-to is Wild Planet's wild-caught albacore. I would call it water packed, but there's no water added... the liquid in the can is simply the juices of the tuna which emerge during the canning/heating process. I like their sardines too, but that's a matter for another thread...

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that tip; the Amazon deal for a 12-pack is excellent. Even the 4-pack is a better deal than what I can find in the bay area. I love tuna, but I try not eat it too often, for probably murky reasons. Either it isn't sustainably fished or it has mercury in it or it's endangered. Ortiz claims their Bonito del Norte is line-caught. A good thing, and I am assuming it is true.

 

Someone please confirm my theory about bonito: if they really mean that it is bonito, it should be from a smaller fish than some other canned tuna, which means less mercury.  When I googled bonito it seems that some sites say it is actually a tuna, and others call it a tuna-ilke fish. What is it? And is it actually likely to contain less mercury? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, btbyrd said:

I usually buy it in bulk from Zingerman's every July when they have their annual sale (with lots of tinned fish at good prices) but I just noticed that you can get cases of 12 on Amazon (Prime) for even cheaper than the Zingerman's sale price.

 

Yes, I'd been getting it from Zingerman's as well but this year got it from Amazon for less money as you say. I laid in several cases of it. :-) 

(Mind you, I took advantage of Zingerman's Summer sale to stock up on other very nice stuff but that is another topic)


Edited by huiray (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a bit sad that this topic has descended into a "I prefer this brand" list and hasn't much addressed the original question. 


Edited by liuzhou (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are mistaken.

 

The mentions of various brands (including the one called "Ortiz") *does* address the original question. The preferred brands would have chunks of tuna, vs the "flakes" as the OP commented on, the flavor is there, and so on and so forth. People who have tried these brands know the characteristics of the brands and how they compare with the OP's complaint, as even the OP himself responded to in a post upthread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

It is a bit sad that this topic has descended into a "I prefer this brand" list and hasn't addressed the original question. 

 

The OP complained that canned tuna:


1) Contains soy

2) Contains flakes rather than chunks or slices of loin

3) Tastes dull, smells musty, and is unappetizing.

4) Had a higher tuna to water ratio than they liked.

 

The reason we've been discussing our favorites is that the complaints just listed only apply to low-quality garbage brands of tuna such as those mentioned in the original post. Bumblebee, for instance, packs their tuna in vegetable broth, not water. This is presumably to make it taste better (because they apparently start with fish that don't taste very good... or they screw it up in the processing). The soy in the broth is most likely hydrolyzed soy protein... a source of free glutamic acid. Brands such as this also don't process their fish very carefully and basically grind up the tuna before it hits the can. That's an overstatement, but that's why it appears to be a can of tuna bits, flakes, and scraps rather than something identifiable. Good brands don't look like cat food. They also taste better, and often don't contain any added water at all.

 

In short, if you buy Ortiz or Wild Planet (or another premium brand that others have recommended here), you won't run into problems with soy, texture, flavor, or wateriness. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, btbyrd said:

The reason we've been discussing our favorites is that the complaints just listed only apply to low-quality garbage brands of tuna such as those mentioned in the original post.

 

I take your point but surely the original question was "why do those low-quality brands taste so bad?" Listing better brands may be useful for reference (except they not available everywhere), but doesn't answer the question at all.

Also a number of the "this is my favourite brand" comments are nothing to do with the question, especially when they get into which store some people can buy them at a certain price.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's no mystery there. Low quality brands taste bad because they're low quality. They're sloppily processed, contain unnecessary ingredients and fillers (yes, water is a filler), and are made to be cheap rather than delicious.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, are we opening a can of tuna or a can of worms? Once upon a time you went to the supermarket and bought a can of tuna and your biggest choice was packed in water or packed in oil. It was a reasonably cheap source of protein, especially for those without access to affordable fresh fish. They all tasted pretty much the same once you added the standard American amount of mayo.

 

But times have changed. Tuna is a key fish and the choices are a lot more complicated than how does it taste. How was it caught? Is it endangered? How much mercury is in it? Is it fresh or farmed? An excellent read is Paul Greenberg's Four Fish. At this point no one should be surprised that there's a price to pay, whether it be your wallet or your health or the health of the planet. I don't believe you can untangle all the lines. Or turn back time. The original post sets the table.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×