Foods are immersed in preservatives and stored in cans to maintain their freshness and taste for long periods of time. A classic example of such is salmon.
But do we have to heat it up before we eat? Or can we roll out the can opener, arm ourselves with a spoon (or fork, like the weirdo you are) and just get on with it right away?
Well, the answer to that is yes. You see, before the salmon is put into the can, it is first of all cooked. This means you can eat it cold out of the can without any adverse effects.
However, it’s going to taste very unpleasant, pretty much how a lump of wet fish would taste like, so, if you’re not a very picky eater, go for it.
Also, if you’re going to eat it straight out of the can without cooking it, be sure to drain out the excess liquid that’s submerging the fish because it contains a lot of sodium which (in excessive amounts) isn’t good for your heart.
What about the health implications? Can I get sick from eating cold canned salmon?
Remember when I said earlier that the fish is first of all cooked before storing? Yeah, apart from making the fish, uhh, not raw, it also helps to kill harmful bacteria and microbes that could (would) make you sick.
So unless the can has been dented, is old, or the instructions specifically say you should cook it, canned salmon is safe to consume straight out the can, cold.
If you don’t want to eat it cold, you can warm it by heating it on a burner or microwaving it, it doesn’t make it any “safer”, it just makes it warmer and thus, less disgusting.
In other words, as long as the can isn’t old or dented, and there are no signs of spoilage, eating it cold is just as safe as eating it warm.
What’s the best way to store canned salmon?
If the canned salmon has no dent or leakage and remains unopened, it could last for up to 4 years. However, once it has been opened, it should be consumed quickly. This is because fish, like salmon, have a higher concentration of unsaturated fats which makes them spoil really fast.
Once you’ve opened the can, if you’re not going to eat it immediately, stash it in the refrigerator, salmonella is no laughing matter.
If you decided to refrigerate it, do ensure you take it out of the can completely and place it in another container with a tight fitting lid. With a temperature of about 40⁰F, the fish should be able to last for 4 days.
However, if you want to freeze it, place the fish inside an air tight container, and stash it in the freezer. If all the conditions are right, it should last in there for up to 3 months.
Once I’ve taken it out of the refrigerator, how do I know if it’s still fresh?
If you followed all the instructions, your salmon is supposed to remain fresh for the above mentioned period of time.
However, anything can happen, from a lid that didn’t cover properly to a defective refrigerator, and if that’s the case, you have to look out for the color to know if the salmon is still fresh.
The skin is supposed to be pink-orange with a gleaming silver skin. If the skin appears lifeless and dull (even for a dead fish), it’s starting to turn grey, you can see some discoloration and dark spots as well as whitish residue along the filet, you need to discard it because those are signs of spoilage.
Is canned salmon nutritious to eat?
It’s actually very nutritious, especially for your heart. As long as you drain out the excess sodium from the preservatives, the fish itself is good for your heart.
Salmon is so good that the American heart association recommends you take two meals of fatty fish, such as salmon, a week.
This is because it has a high level of omega 3 fatty acid which maintains your heartbeat and is also very good for the brain.
Just so you know, unlike a lot of preservation techniques, canning salmon does not reduce it’s nutritional value at all, and is just as nutritious as un-canned salmon.
Is there mercury in canned salmon?
In case you didn’t know, mercury is not good for the body. It is harmful to the immune and reproductive system, as well as the developing brain of children. Mercury also greatly increases the risk of a heart attack.
Here’s the thing, all species of fish have some traces of mercury depending on the species, and (canned) salmon isn’t an exception.
However, due to its diet, salmon is less exposed to methyl-mercury, which means the mercury concentration is at a safely low level so it’s not going to affect you.
What are some of the advantages canned salmon has over un-canned salmon?
Canned salmon is less expensive than salmon steaks or fillet. If you want to enjoy salmon without bleeding your pocket, canned salmon is your sure bet.
Canned salmon lasts much much longer than, say, salmon steak. Don’t believe me? Try eating salmon steak that’s been out for 3 weeks, see how that works out.
It’s easier to prepare. All you need to do is open the can, drain the liquid, and then warm the salmon up. You could even eat it cold.
Canned salmon is more convenient and easier to carry around.
It contains less mercury. The size of the salmon in the container is not big enough to contain the levels of mercury that’ll do you any harm. In other words, canning helps regulate the amount of mercury intake.
What other things can I do with salmon?
- You can spread salmon over pita wedges or whole grain crackers.
- Mixing a can of salmon with mashed potatoes.
- Adding a can of salmon to mac and cheese
- You could also make salmon salad. Do this by adding some mayonnaise into the can of salmon, finely chopped onions could also be added if you’re up for it.
- Wrapped salmon with grated carrot is an excellent idea.
- You could spread salmon salad over whole wheat tortilla wraps, covered with some chopped lettuce.
- Salmon could be spread over a hot dog bun, top with grated cheese, and broiled in the oven until the cheese totally melts
- You could make salmon cakes. All you need to do is drain the salmon of its preservatives, mix it with mashed potatoes, beaten eggs, breadcrumbs, and dills. Roll it into balls and then bake or fry until it’s golden. To be served with honey-mustard dipping sauce.
- You could make salmon burgers. Mix eggs and breadcrumbs into the salmon, and then make it into the shape of a patty. Add fruit salsa, lemon, or honey-mustard.
- Canned salmon could be added to fried rice to increase the level of protein and omega 3.
- You can mix salmon into broccoli soup.