Recently you read Charlotte’s blog article about high quality proteins and where to find them. According to her article, canned fish is one of the top sources. This is excellent news, especially for those who love tuna salad sandwiches. (That would be me for example.) But isn’t it a bit awkward that we love to eat something we don’t know how it’s produced? At least I feel kind of weird. Therefore I started a little research and investigated how the fish gets into the can. (Yeah, you can call me Detective Dominique if you like.) Today I want to share my knowledge with you. Let’s get it started.

The Beginnings of Canned Tuna

As a total expert on cans Fabian has already given you a little background information about the history of cans. (If you can’t remember just read the blog article again!) If I remember correctly it was a Frenchman who invented in 1809 the process of preventing food by cooking it inside an unleaked jar. That’s the foundation which made canned tuna and therefore tuna salad sandwiches possible. So thank you, Nicolas Appart! A few years after this discovery, the first tuna was preserved. It’s safe to say that since the turn of the 20th century people put tuna into cans to extend its taste and durability. But how?

Let’s Start the Journey

The journey of canned fish starts several days before you open the can and put it on a toast. It starts right at the ocean, usually very early in the morning, when fishermen start their hunt. After they’ve caught the right amount of fish, they bring their capture to the processing factory. This is where the tuna gets cooked for about 2 to 4 hours without its head and tail. It’s not until the first cooking that the fish is freed from its bones and will be fileted as well.

Cans and Fish – a Match Made in Heaven

We all know that canned tuna never comes solo but with some liquid. This liquid is either water or vegetable oil. But why is it even necessary? The liquid prevents the fish from drying out. So thanks to oil or water we have juicy tuna on our sandwiches. Now the can is finally full and ready to be vacuum sealed! But how does that work?

Sealed Cans are The Best Cans

Now again it’s all about Nicolas Appart and his invention of 1809. To seal the can and make it last for – almost – ever the can needs to be closed and cooked for a few hours. This step is called retort cooking and is necessary to kill off all the bacteria we definitely don’t want to be in our food. After being cooked this last time, the can gets its decorative label and is transported to the supermarket where it’s ready to be sold.

The Tuna's Journey_final

You see: The journey of the fish is a long one, but if you love to eat tuna salad sandwiches as much as I do, you’ll agree that it’s totally worth it. Furthermore, the canning of tuna prevents that any fresh fish becomes food waste which is definitively worth it to support.

Cans for Life encourages you to pay attention to which tuna you buy. Make sure that the tuna you chose is a sustainable, ethical and fair product. Here is a tuna shopping guide published by Greenpeace.

If you’re going to buy tuna, make sure to choose a sustainable and ethical option.

But it doesn’t have to be a sandwich. Tell us: What’s your favorite meal including canned tuna? Leave us a comment (with the recipe 😉 ) down below. Thank you!

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