Canned Fish

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Because canned fish keep indefinitely without refrigeration and in a handy package, this is the preserved fish that most of us eat most often. In the United States, it is the most popular of all fish products: we consume more than a billion cans of tuna every year. Fish and shellfish were first heated in a hermetically sealed container around 1810 by Nicholas Appert, principal inventor of the process. Fellow Frenchman Joseph Colin started canning sardines a little over a decade later; American fishermen canned oysters in Delaware around 1840 and Pacific salmon around 1865, and Italian immigrants founded the canned tuna industry around San Diego in 1903. Today, salmon, tuna, and sardines are the most popular canned seafoods worldwide.