The Canned Seafood Special

.I really like seafood. Living near saltwater as a child and part of my teen years meant that seafood was fresh, available, and sometimes really inexpensive because people in my family would go catch crabs and saltwater fish. I am a bit more careful about how much seafood I eat. Also, I live hundreds of miles from the ocean now which doesn’t make it inexpensive or easy.

Matt is not as big a fan of seafood as me. I can’t say I blame him considering how polluted the ocean is and the conditions in some of the farm-raised seafood operations.

This post features some of the odd seafood options beyond oysters and tuna.

That being said, we have been trying to seek out various canned meat options and got a bit carried away buying different types and trying to put them into reasonable categories for taste testing. I was hoping for better taste results and quality but at least we made some discoveries so that you can make good choices about what meats you want for long emergencies. Remember that having items to flavor dishes with can be nice too.

Some of the meats tested were okay for cooking but low on calories and fat and not something you would just want to eat by itself. The canned clams in clam juice, for instance, had no major flaws and the shrimp were okay with other finger foods. So you may want to have a can of this or can of that for variety and cooking but seafood, in general, is not an option for getting the most calories or nutrition for the amount of space it takes up or the price it costs.

It is also very difficult to find any seafood at the regular grocery store that is produced and canned in the USA.  The clams in clam juice are the only totally USA caught and canned odd seafood on this list.

Let’s get started with the Seafood Special!

Chicken Of The Sea White Crabmeat

Cost: $1.00 at times but usually in the $2.00 range. Prices seem to vary a lot on this item.

Country Of Origin:  Caught in Indonesia but listed as a product of Vietnam

Container Size: 6 oz with juice, 4 oz drained weight

Servings Per Can: 2

Calories Per Serving: 30

Calories Per Can: 60

Protein Per Serving:  7 grams

Total Fat Per Serving:  0 grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 300 mg or 13 % based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Crabmeat, Water, Salt, Sugar, Citric Acid, Calcium Disodium EDTA to promote color retention, Sodium Pyrophosphate to maintain flavor and firmness, Sodium Metabisulfite as a preservative.

I was actually planning on using this for a seafood pasta for dinner, but it was not possible because there was no way we could stomach the texture. Ok, first there is the fact that when you open the can, the crab is in a liner made of some type of wax paper or similar. On first glance, we were concerned that the liner in the can had drawn away from the metal because the meat was bad. Thankfully we did not actually have bad crab on our hands as far as food safety goes.

This stuff is very watery as you can see from the pictures. If I had not seen this in the can and it was mixed in a dip or something I would probably eat it. The calorie and fat content makes this not a good choice for true SHTF food supplies. The cost per can varies a lot too. I think it was more like $3.00 per can at our local Ingles Grocery, but it is far less online.

The country of origin is a bit too far away for me. Crab is a delicate food, and Vietnam seems to far away for someone living in the southern USA.

Snow’s Bumble Bee Minced Clams In Clam Juice

Cost: $1.48 at Wal-Mart

Country Of Origin: Wild Caught USA Clams

Container Size: 6 oz

Servings Per Can: 3.5

Calories Per Serving:  25

Calories Per Can: About 90

Protein Per Serving:  3 grams

Total Fat Per Serving:  0 grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 350 mg or 15% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients:  Clams in their natural juices, water, salt, sugar, sodium tripolyphosphate (to retail natural juices), calcium disodium EDTA (to protect color)

These were about what you would expect from a canned clam. All the cans of clam chowder you have consumed over the years have clams like these in it so you might be able to imagine the texture. Snow’s even has their own line of chowders. There is a lot of juice in this can which is quite useful for cooking if you don’t mind the preservatives. These are not that salty. I think most of the salt is in the juice so that is something to remember when using these in dishes.

Like most seafood, this is low-calorie food, and there is no fat at all. The total protein in an entire can is okay at 10.5 grams but still much lower than a lot of other canned meats. I would think of these clams as a protein and flavor boost for soups and stews. A full can of these clams is enough to make a pot of clam chowder for 4.

Bumble Bee Tiny Shrimp

Cost: $4.93 for a 2 pack

Country Of Origin: Indonesia

Container Size: 6 oz with juice, 4 oz drained weight

Servings Per Can: 1

Calories Per Serving: 100

Calories Per Can: 100

Protein Per Serving: 21 grams

Total Fat Per Serving:  1 gram

Salt Content Per Serving: 700  mg or  30% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Shrimp, water, 2% or less salt, sugar, citric acid, sodium pyrophosphate to maintain flavor and firmness, calcium disodium EDTA, sodium metabisulfite

I liked these shrimp better than Matt but that is always the case with shrimp. The color and appearance of the shrimp are good.  I actually ate more than a few of these shrimp on a Breton’s Gluten Free Garlic and Herb Cracker with a smear of cream cheese and Old Bay Seasoning.  Given the choice I will always choose frozen shrimp unless I am on my once a decade trip to the beach. What seems fresh at the grocery store is often just shrimp that has been unthawed and then sold to you.

Vigo Imported Squid Wild Caught In Ink Sauce

Cost: About $20.00 for 10 cans

Country Of Origin: Spain

Container Size: 4 oz

Servings Per Can: 2

Calories Per Serving: 80

Calories Per Can: 160

Protein Per Serving: 4 grams

Total Fat Per Serving:  9 grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 250 mg or 10% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Squid in Sauce prepared with Soybean Oil, Tomato, Spices, and Salt added

Tasting this proved to me that there are some things in the grocery store you have to wonder how they manage to sell enough of it to keep it on the shelves. Squid in ink tasted like candied fishy squid in a sweet and oily tomato sauce that kind of reminded me of molasses with tomato. I did try this on a cracker with Old Bay Seasoning and cream cheese after my initial bad reaction to tasting it on its own.

This is definitely the worst thing we tasted on the list, and the ink sauce definitely stains everything it touches so if you do feel adventuresome or enjoy the pasta sauces that some people make from this, make sure to have some extra paper towels on hand and skip a white tablecloth.

Pampa Giant Calamari In Garlic Sauce

Cost: $5.32 for four cans! This is really inexpensive canned meat!

Country Of Origin: Spain

Container Size: 4 oz

Servings Per Can: 1

Calories Per Serving: 194

Calories Per Can: 194

Protein Per Serving: 26 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 9  grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 400 mg or 17% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Cephalopod tentacles, soybean/and or sunflower oil, natural garlic extract, Polyphosphates (emulsifier)

I was a little apprehensive of tasting anything that had the actual word tentacles in the ingredient list. The ridiculously low cost of this canned calamari made me even more suspicious. $1.08 per can is very cheap for something that packs 194 calories, 26 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fat!

The taste was actually quite surprising. A firm texture and mild garlic flavor made me think these would be okay in a soup or on a salad even. If you don’t like mushy canned fish, this may be something to look for. From a survival standpoint, this is an amazing and cheap source of protein, fat, and calories.  While the salt content may seem high, it does not taste salty and a lot of the salt is in the oily brine that you could use for flavoring other foods or mixing into dishes. I think you would have to do this to get the total calorie count and the fat.

While I am not going to run out and buy more, I could eat this if needed. Matt seemed to think it was a surprise too, in terms of quality and flavor. If you battered and fried this it may be pretty good.

Reese Baby Smoked Clams Cherrywood smoked in cottonseed oil

Cost: $26.06 for a pack of 10

Country Of Origin: China

Container Size: 3.66 oz

Servings Per Can: 1 can drained

Calories Per Serving: 180

Calories Per Can: 180

Protein Per Serving:13 grams

Total Fat Per Serving: 14  grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 170 mg or 7% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Baby smoked clams, cottonseed oil, salt

They really mean it when they call these baby clams. When you open the can they are all lined up and just look so small. The flavor was very fishy and the smoke level was moderate. I think what ruined it for both Matt and I was the cottonseed oil. Cotton is heavily sprayed with chemicals and on top of that, the flavor has never been my favorite. I know it would cost more to produce but if these were in olive oil, there would be a significant improvement in flavor and texture. Maybe it is just me but I find cottonseed oil has a flat flavor so you just get a slick of oil in your mouth.  Overall these are okay and if you used them in a dish then the oiliness would not be as much of an issue. These would be decent in a gumbo or chowder.

Vigo Imported Mussels Farm Raised In Marinade Sauce

Cost: $31.52 for a pack of 10 but also available at a lot of mid to large grocery stores

Country Of Origin: Spain

Container Size: 4 oz

Servings Per Can: 2

Calories Per Serving: 88

Calories Per Can: 176

Protein Per Serving: 11 grams

Total Fat Per Serving:  4 grams

Salt Content Per Serving: 250 mg or 10% based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Ingredients: Mussels and sauce prepared with Soybean Oil, Vinegar, Red Pepper, Spices, and Salt added

I like that these are from Spain and not China. I cannot help but be suspicious about the food quality of products from China. These mussels are farm raised and taste a lot like you would expect an oyster to taste but just a little different. The sauce that the mussels are canned in could be used in various dishes to add vinegar and pepper notes. I know that many people don’t use the liquid but during an extended emergency, you might want to try to use as much as possible when you open up a can of food. Spices and flavorings can make a big difference when you find that you have to live on some otherwise bland foods.

On the other hand, these are not the most inexpensive canned fish out there. Although the calorie count is higher than some and the protein levels are excellent, even these tasty mussels are not a top pick for prepper meats.

Conclusion

Matt and I can agree that seafood is something best kept out of a can in most cases. Since there is a lot of variety at grocery stores, we wanted to test a lot of different types of canned meats for you. We are sorry to report that odd canned seafood is generally not something to stock up on in large quantities.

The delicate flavors do not do well in the can. Producers struggle to make a product that stays in an affordable price range while being shelf stable. I can buy some great fast frozen shrimp from the coast of North Carolina at my grocery store for $10 or less per lb. Now I realize that they are not going to keep long if my freezer goes out, but I think we can manage with more shelf stable canned meats like ham, chicken,  sardines, and pickled herring.

I am not saying don’t put back any canned seafood if you like it but don’t go too crazy with it. There are a lot of other brands out there that did not go in this article but remember that the majority of canned seafood is always going to be a lot more expensive and have fewer calories and fat than other canned meats in the store.

Our dogs got a mix of all the fish tested in this article, with their dog food the day of the test, thus ended The Seafood Special. They would tell you that everything on the list tasted great and we should mix it in every day. Of course, our dogs like to chew on dead squirrels the cat drags in too when they get a chance, so it doesn’t take much to impress them.

Another lesson learned is that Old Bay Seasoning will cover up a lot of  “off” flavors. I recommend adding some Old Bay to your SHTF spice stash.

Samantha Biggers can be reached at [email protected]

 

  1. Please send us your telephone # as we do not put our charge card on the !Would like to order this much needed book ! THANKS

  2. The way I see it, you taste-testing all of this canned seafood and sharing your results has saved me a lot of time, effort, and money and I greatly appreciate it. I totally liked your picks for canned hams, and sardines and am now stocking them. Now, I need to buy some of the pickled herring to try. Thank you!

  3. I, too, grew up on the gulf coast, then the west coast so seafood was something I took for granted. And yes, I find it hard to use canned substitutes. Albacore tuna is about as daring as I get & that’s very rarely. Thanks for the research (so I didn’t have to taste all these). My dogs are a little pissed at you though. Lol

  4. You forgot Anchovies! (I don’t think they were part of the earlier Sardine test. If so…sorry)
    I love Anchovies on fresh hot Pizza (not next day leftovers though) and on green salads (think Caesar salad). Other than those two things, they’re pretty limited…lol

  5. Due to the lack of decent tasting canned seafood items on the market, I now home can my own. Plus, I am now scared of commercial seafood in the cans as I got food poisoning from a toxin vs. a bacteria from canned seafood. Safer to eat my own. Might be a bit more expensive to home can but, at least I know I can take all the precautions canning and be safer.

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