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Canned salmon: Bones & Skin

So I had a Southern moment today and made (low carb) salmon croquettes for lunch. As I was mashing up the bones into crunchy little extra calcium bits, and pondering whether to get some of the skin off (I didn't), I recalled a friend who got freaked out watching me make croquettes once, and couldn't help but wonder about other Chowhounds.

Assuming you'd deign to use canned salmon w/skin & bones included.. mix them in, or remove?

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  1. I always keep in skin and bones for salmon (and sardines and herring)...much healthier. I suppose that if you know someone will freak out if you serve it that way, then you might refrain.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Val

      You're nicer than I. I prefer obfuscation. Because after parenting for 18 years, that's how I roll.

      1. re: shanagain

        Thanks for the new word shanagain, yes I looked it up :-} As a parent of 16 years new words come in handy. Too bad obfuscate doesn't roll of the tongue, but I think it will skype well.

        Back on topic - I take the skin out. The Mr. was *not* a fish eater 18 years ago and this is a small compromise.

    2. Yep, I keep the skin and bones on when I'm making salmon loaf. I don't think I've ever had anyone watch me make it so I don't know if they'd freak. Once they're mashed up, I can't see / taste the evidence.

      1. I keep the skin and bones too...I was always told that those were the parts that made it good for you!


        1. When we were young, our favorite part was the little porous bones.

          1. another vote for leaving skin and bones in but I like to mash the bones up well.

            I love canned salmon sandwiches - mashed up with some vinegar, white bread and butter.

            1 Reply
            1. re: smartie

              Vinegar, eh smartie? Just plain white vinegar? Never heard of that. I'll try it!

              We do grilled salmon sandwiches quite often: mash up the salmon with the bones (I always remove the skin), add some onion, celery, dill and a teaspoon or so of mayo. Spread onto some bread, throw a piece of cheese on top, butter the bread, and grill low and slow as per a regular grilled cheese sandwich.

              Both my mother and doctor always remind me to eat the bones for extra calcium.

            2. the family wouldnt stand for it, must remove the skin, bones and dark meat line, i don't mind sorting it out and flaking it, don't think I would care to bite into the gritty bone bits, its one of the few sustainable fish choices available here in the midwest

              1. Skin, if it's crispy, which it isn't right out of the can. Bones- nope, no can do in anything larger than sardines or Beach Cliff Fish Steaks. And I pull the vertebrae out of those. It's easy with chopsticks.

                1. On the topic of canned salmon, what would I have to do with the bones in my fresh steaks to get them to that texture, or to some edible texture ?

                  1. I thought EVERYBODY removed skin and bones, until I started reading threads on the subject here on chowhound. For me, skin and bones have an "ick" factor.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Sharuf

                      I'm with you. Additionally, I didn't know that canned salmon had the bones in it the first (and last) time I bought a can: once the lid came off I was staring at a fish spine, and I lost my taste for salmon burgers. I'm not sqeamish (I worked in organ procurement for seven years), but the shock of it turned me off canned salmon!

                      1. re: Sharuf

                        Not sure why one would assume everyone removes the skin and bones.

                        There's a reason why canned salmon comes in two forms: (1) boneless and skinless and (2) regular with everything included.

                        1. re: Sharuf

                          I have to ask, what region are you from?

                          1. re: shanagain

                            Washington state. We had lots of salmon, fresh, smoked and canned.

                            1. re: Sharuf

                              Thanks - I had prefaced my post by saying I was having a Southern moment, and wondered if the bones/skin is a regional thing.

                          2. re: Sharuf

                            I normally like fresh salmon skin, but the canned stuff is soggy and slimey -- and I'll use the canned for something like quick salmon cakes for dinner. I don't mind bones in some fish and some preparations, e.g. sardines and smelt, but canned salmon spinal bones are an unappealing texture for me and the smaller bones squick me out in something like a croquette or salmon cake. No thanks. :/

                          3. I'm sort of in between. I take out the vertebrae, but leave in the little bones and take off as much of the skin as will easily come off with one pull. All the rest, I mush in.

                            3 Replies
                              1. re: Sooeygun

                                Same here. I'm OK with the small bones, but the texture of the vertebrae turns me off.

                                1. Crush the bones and mix in. The skin and water go to the cats.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: viperlush

                                    I'm with you. I eat tinned salmon in large part for the calcium in the bones, crushed with fingertips.

                                    My cat gets the skin and the water ... and sometimes a bit of the flesh...

                                    1. re: lagatta

                                      Yep, cats here too. They cry for the skin like they haven't been fed for months.

                                      Vertebrae removed, small bones mashed in.

                                  2. Probably a good idea to mix them in, but it's academic for me--I always eat the skin while preparing the rest of the can for whatever. It's a reflexive thing for me and I never thought much about it until your post. PS--I'll still do it. The bones--of course, include them.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Masonville

                                      That's funny, the skin is the only thing I get mildly squeamish about, until it's all mashed in.

                                    2. We low carbers know that fat is not the enemy, so the skin is a good addition. The bones add extra calcium, but I am fairly squeamish about the crunch that's still left behind, so I do pick out the little round ones when mixing the batter.

                                      I make these and use a jumbo muffin pan- use 1 large can of salmon, 3 eggs, reconstituted dried onions or sliced green onion, and for a binder, a bit of ground flax meal or coconut flour. OK, am pretty hard core- will also use extra virgin bacon grease in the mixture as well, and to grease the pan.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: MNLisaB

                                        I can one-up the hardcore. ;) I use ground pork rind "crumbs" as my binder - Turkey Creek "hot bbq," preferably. Otherwise my recipe is similar to yours, with less egg, and the addition of a squirt of sriracha (sriracha in small measures is a quality of life issue) and a squeeze of lemon juice.

                                        I usually fry them in vegetable oil (am moving on now to coconut oil) but I love the idea of muffin tins - so much easier, and less splatter-y from the little pieces of onion or green onion! (Most painful recent splatter: In my eye. Youch.)

                                      2. Here is the truth. When I came off the TransAlaska Pipeline in 1977, I had a lot of money, but couldn't resist working in a cannery in Kenai AK. I brined and packed $10,000 of eggs a day, and watched everything. Later, I worked all over Alaska and did plenty of fishing off of helicopters. We would catch a bunch off the pontoons, throw them in the chopper and head home. I also worked one summer on a 40' double ender power trolling in the Fairweather Grounds out of Juneau. I pulled all the fish, so I got to know them all very well.
                                        Reds = Sockeye. These are the best, but don't bite after they start running up stream. Got to snag them.
                                        Kings or Jack Kings are next. Some are huge. Some people call them dog salmon.
                                        Silvers = Kokini are next. They are very good. Turn your hot water heater up, Wrap several in foil (tight) with lemon, mustard, herbs, sliced onions and put the on the top rack of the dishwasher. Yummy.
                                        Pinks = chum salmon. They are also called humpies. I call them silly humpies. These are the bottom of the barrel. They are always soft even straight out of deep water.

                                        This is what you really want to know: All the boats have holds full of ice. Mostly they stay out over a week. The fish are all cleaned, then thrown in the hold. The boats run to port or a mother ship to unload and buy ice. The fish are then put in big totes on the pier. The Japanese buy up all the best salmon, it's flash frozen whole and goes to Japan. When the cannery gets backed up those totes stay out in the sun for a long time - days. That is the fish that gets canned. It smells so bad by the time it goes down the processing tables that everyone feels sick. I didn't have a vehicle then so I was hitching from the cannery to home. I would only hitch rides with people in pickups so I could get in the back.

                                        Glad I did it, and glad I don't have to do it again.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: janeinthemtns

                                          jane: C'mon, you're spoiling all the Rebs' fun. The worst fresh Humpy snagged in the shortest possible river is ambrosia to folks who can only reasonably get canned, or farmed-n-dyed fresh Atlantics. SPAM of the sea, really.

                                          Personally, my favorite is a Yukon King, the white ones if possible. Almost as fat as black cod. Yum!

                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                            I really hope you're not referring to Southerners as "rebs."

                                            Aside from that, it has occurred to me that it wouldn't surprise me to hear that those who think us rubes are eating rotten fish have probably doused their fair share of noodles with the "best" fish sauce. Irony.

                                          2. re: janeinthemtns

                                            If it's rotten and putrid before canning, wouldn't it then make a whole bunch of people sick after they buy the cans of rotted fish? Just wondering and not trying to negate what you've said, it would just seem logical that it would create a health hazard to even use the rotted fish.

                                            1. re: janeinthemtns

                                              I'm sorry. It's been a long time since you've been in Alaska, and some of your information about salmon is incorrect.

                                              King/Chinook salmon is the top of the line. No one calls it dog salmon. Generally it brings a much higher price on the market than even sockeye.

                                              The term "jack salmon" is not species specific, but occurs more in Coho than in Kings. The term references male fish who return to the spawning grounds a year before their counterparts.

                                              Seine openings are for a matter of hours anymore, not for a week or so. And while it's true that there is still a strong Asian market for the flash frozen troll caught fish, more and more of it is going to lower 48 markets these days.

                                              Dog salmon is also called "chum" salmon...not pinks. And there's a new marketing gimmick that calls them "Keta" salmon. Personally I won't sell/process them.

                                              Ocean caught humpies can actually be quite good if they're caught at the beginning of their run, but my company doesn't deal in them. They're the largest run in Alaska, though, and they are mass produced for the lower end market.

                                              We have a small cannery and do not practice what you describe...our product is too valuable (but then, we only deal in Kings, sockeye, and coho).

                                              1. re: Wildfish

                                                I still live in Alaska. Just an ignorant fisherperson. I'll take a red salmon over a king any day.

                                                1. re: janeinthemtns

                                                  Glad to know you're still in Alaska. Yes, lots of people do prefer the Red salmon but nonetheless, Kings bring a higher market price. And again, they are never referred to as "dog salmon"...that's what we call chums. Pinks and chums are two different types fo salmon.

                                            2. This is interesting. I have never thought or heard about eating the bones and skin. I always methodically pick everything out of the meat. I don't eat canned salmon very much for that reason, it just takes too long. Will have to try it thanks for the idea.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: williewill

                                                We used to fight over the bones as kids, (ate a lot of canned salmon), but I always meticulously pick out the bones and skin now. It's a QC thing.

                                                If I'm going to take the time to make salmon patties, they are going to be outstanding and they can't be outstanding with skin and bones in them.

                                                At least not in my kitchen! ;-)

                                                1. re: DoobieWah

                                                  Made these salmon patties last night.

                                                  They were excellent with homemade tartar sauce made with my homemade, stick-blender mayonnaise.

                                                  But the dog got the skin and bones, (and a little of the packing water), mixed with her kibble.

                                                  She loves me even more now.

                                              2. I take the skin & bones out and feed them to my cats. I'm in agreement with the comments on skin & bones being in the ick factor. I'm not a fan of canned salmon, or any canned fish for that matter so rarely eat any of it. I'll buy canned sockeye for fish cakes, as its one of the DHs faves, but any skin & bones are removed first.

                                                1. We didn't fight over the bones when I was a kid, but we regarded them as extra special treats when we'd run into them in a salmon loaf. I still do. When I'm preparing anything from canned salmon, I do remove most of the skin, not because of some so-called "ick factor" - let's not get into my thoughts on that! - but just because I don't enjoy the taste or texture. I also remove most of the vertebrae … and eat them! Cook's treat!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                    Cook's treat indeed! Last time I was using canned salmon, my daughter happened to be loitering around the kitchen precisely for the bones! Sez she: "I wish there were more bones in canned salmon."

                                                    We agreed. And shared. (Dammit.)

                                                    We also restrain ourselves from time to time and engage in delayed salmon bone gratification. Adding the canned salmon very gently to a chowder and being careful not to crush the bones yields the wonderful occasional surprise of a crunchy salmon vertebrae. It's like a strangely delicious little crouton in the soup.

                                                    Yep. The bones are a treat in my book.


                                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                                      my grandmother always let me eat the bones if I were around when she made salmon croquettes (which was often). I miss that, since I tend to buy fresh salmon now.

                                                  2. I bought a can of salmon for our dogs and was horrified to find that bones and skin were included. It turned my stomach. Count me in as the "neither" camp.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: LaureltQ

                                                      LaureltQ, I feed my dogs canned salmon every day (they don't eat 'pet food' on my watch!) and share your feelings re: bones and skin. In fact I've often found myself thinking "who would buy this, with all the work needed to remove the bones and skin?" It never even occured to me that anyone would eat them. I'm genuinely surprised. Not criticizing in any way, just surprised. Bones in fish* and to a lesser extent skin, grosses me right out.

                                                      *I can do kippers, but am always on the verge of being icked out, I have to concentrate on not letting it happen. :)

                                                    2. Are you kidding me?!? The skin is the BEST PART! I love it and end up eating most of it while making a salmon loaf. And the bones are so soft and good for you. Haven't made salmon loaf for a while, but it's on the menu for this Friday. Can't wait for some of that skin!

                                                      1. As children, my sister and I loved the bones in canned salmon. I say mix in.

                                                        1. I only feed canned salmon to my dogs, but I suspect they think the bones & skin are the best parts! Even the can is considered lickable deliciousness.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: foiegras

                                                            What can I say? One of the most precious fish on the planet and you feed it to your dogs? Let me guess. You love your KFC right? Too bad for you.

                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                              I'm always a bit amazed when people are under the impression that other species aren't equally entitled to real food. This 'let them eat Soylent Green' approach is quite a new development from a historical perspective.

                                                              If I loved my KFC, I'd hardly be posting on Chowhound ... right??