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Oct 14, 2011 03:03 PM

Is it possible to find canned sardines without the brown "rust"

I scrape the brown off sardines because it's gross, as well as the gray from imperfectly cooked salmon. Lemon juice helps prevent this (browning in apples too) for scientific reasons I won't bore you with unless asked. Does anyone know of canned versions that have no brown?

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  1. I guess I haven't experienced your "brown rust" issue (thankfully). I like the boneless, skinless, packed in olive oil from Trader Joe's . There was a lengthy thread here about sardines with great suggestions - use the search feature for lots of advice.

    1. I've never seen "brown rust" either.

      1. Another with no clue as to the "rust"...have opened many many cans of these fabulous fishies...have never experienced it!

        5 Replies
        1. re: Val

          Are you people insane!!!??? It's right in front of you!!!

          1. re: Big_Salad

            <"Are you people insane!!!??? It's right in front of you!!!">

            That's one of the funniest things I've read on Chowhound.

            BTW: What brown rust?

            1. re: Gio

              Haha. Granted it was late in the week and I needed to catch up on sleep, but these good folks were acting like I said "you know those radio transmissions beamed into sardine cans by martians..." Look at the picture in the link just above your post, you'll see four tan fillets turned sideways but the brown top is clearly visible. Or open a can at home if one is available.

              1. re: Big_Salad

                Actually, I had seen that brown spot you're referring to but it doesn't spoil my appreciation of tinned sardines. I love it all. It's simply a fatty section of the fish and probably contains those wonderful omega-3s we're always reading about. Buon appetito...!

            2. re: Big_Salad

              looks normal to me, just a different colored flesh. i eat the whole thing and love it.

            1. re: jaykayen

              It's the same texture as the "white" part jay

              Terrie: I've had the TJ's you're referring too, which is harder to scrape off than Season (I don't know why).

              arktos and Val: I'm referring to boneless and skinless, never had the whole fish cans but saw some photos and videos of them.

              1. re: Big_Salad

                Maybe bloodline. The texture is similar, but the taste is different.

              2. re: jaykayen

                "Are you people insane!!!??? It's right in front of you!!!"
                gotta love it. hehe.
                I'm throwing my lot in with jaykayen in that its a tissue issue. Kinda like the dark area of flesh of this mahi mahi
                I'm dubious about relating it to oxidation like apple flesh. If this was truly the case, why is the "rust" always (and uniformly) in the same place of the sardine anatonomy, not random?

                I think the gray on salmon is also fat tissue (and apparently more pronounced on farmed fish) rather than an imperfect cooking process.

                1. re: porker

                  Good point about the dark area, but when I've had perfectly cooked salmon, there's been no gray. It is usually in the same area, yes, I'm trying to figure out why (near the spine or gills? more/less exposed, don't know). I am very sure it isn't fat. but the same meat/protein as the rest of the fish just discolored. It's true though that salmon and sardines are both oily fish and thus fattier than their white fish counterparts.

                  1. re: Big_Salad

                    it's still flesh, just with a higher concentration of oils that leached into the tissue from the skin. and sure you've had salmon without it, because whomever cooked/prepared/butchered the salmon trimmed it away. but if you open a *can* of salmon (not the flaked stuff like canned tuna but the solid pieces), you'll find the dark flesh in there...


                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Whenever I've cut away the brown in sardines or gray in salmon what remained did darken in the same spot, just not nearly like before. You guys seem to be telling me that there's nothing I can buy without the brown. Or perhaps it's like the pistachio nut dilemma, where the shelled versions don't taste nearly as good as when you buy them whole then remove the shell yourself.

                      1. re: Big_Salad

                        No dilema with the pistachio. The nut gets stale quicker without the protective shell.

                        Just how are you eating sardines. Unlke salmon where the grey part does taste different than the rest of the flesh, the slightly different color part doesn't taste any different or have a different flavor.

                        Having tried over 80 varieties of canned sardines, I can state that for a fact. Sorry though can't recall a skinless one to help you though. I don't usually buy them skinned and boned because they are sort of flavorless to me that way.

                        Anyway, put them in a sandwich where you don't have to look at them. Or buy them in tomato sauce ... though I don't think there are boneless sardines in sauce ... but you could add your own.

                        1. re: rworange

                          I can't eat anything that I can't stand to look at. I usually eat them alone (no mayo or anything, maybe some lemon). Or on occasion mixed with spaghetti and either jarred tomato sauce, cheap pesto from a dried packaged mix, or olives, artichokes, and roasted peppers.

                          So do you think the whole ones that you prefer would be more to my liking?

                          1. re: Big_Salad

                            I'm guessing not. Unskinned, unboned canned sardines aren't pretty.

                            1. re: rworange

                              I mean I'm not that squeamish, I've eaten salmon out of a can with skin and bones several times, it just wasn't that good. Fresh fresh is more my thing, but having grown up with cans of sardines always in the cupboard I still buy some every now and then. Oh well, thanks for your help (that doctoral thesis you wrote in porker's link below is pretty impressive by the way).

                              1. re: Big_Salad

                                My rec would be the Angelo Parodi sardines that remained at the top of my list. They are usually sold at Italian groceries.

                                However, I don't know your tastes. I like sardines from the area from Italy to Portugual the best. Others like sardines from the area around Norway. I find those milder in taste. Alaska and Canada are just ok. I have yet to try anything from Mexico, The Phillippines or Thailand that I like.

                                I guess I just tried 50 cans, not 80. Here's the last link in that series


                                The 50th was the can of aged sardines from France that I had before leaving the US for a year.


                                I've picked up since returning but haven't written anything up yet. The only one i HATED was Natural Sea sardines in water. They were mushy.

                                I'm dangerous now as I'm adding photos. Sardine cans often have great artwork for some reason.

                                If you want photos to see if you can take skin on sardines, this is a great site "Society for the Appreciation of the Lowly Tinned Sardine"


                                The blogger rates sardines from 0 to 5. The above link was to the sardines rated 5 tins.

                                There are also great suggestions for how to serve them and what beverages to pair them with.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  I'm going to pick up some Parodi just because you clearly know about this. Italy and Portugal would be my guesses for the best producing regions, but that's not really based on evidence. I can't recall trying brands from anywhere else, including Norway. Like I said above, it makes more sense to consume fresh fresh, especially after setting up those gourmet garnishes in the cool photographs at sardine society.

                        2. re: Big_Salad

                          You guys seem to be telling me that there's nothing I can buy without the brown.
                          pretty much - i meant to edit my reply last night to say that. i, too, love canned sardines because i grew up eating them (and they remind me of my father), but i was blown away the first time i had a fresh grilled sardine. absolutely delicious. and if you ever have the opportunity to try Japanese spotted sardine at a sushi bar, that's pretty terrific as well.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            Never underestimate the power of nostalgia!

                            The Portuguese and Moroccan restaurants near me have grilled sardines on the menu, which I think are fresh. Their countries are also where most of the canned versions I've had come from. It might be necessary for me to try those to evaluate their rustlessness.

                            1. re: Big_Salad

                              go for it...and please report back - i'm looking forward to hearing what you think of them.

                              1. re: Big_Salad

                                I love grilled sardines, but I find not many people do.
                                I know plenty of people who like the canned version, so you'd think it natural that they like grilled. Nope.
                                Also, most restaurants grill previously frozen, which are dirt cheap. High end places might have fresh, which are much more expensive and highly perishable.

                                BTW Mrs. Porker forbids me to cook these puppies indoors...I must cook them on our deck.

                                1. re: porker

                                  But women's perfumes and air fresheners and scented candles are just dandy, love the hypocrisy. It has to be fresh, jeez previously frozen, nothing is sacred these days. I'll risk teeing off the waiter by asking.

                                  1. re: Big_Salad

                                    Off-topic, but I don't like perfumes (well, ahhhh, most times...), air fresheners, or scented candles.
                                    I like your zeal for freshness! With fish, I think its a matter of economics and convenience. Getting fresh sardines from Greece, or Spain, or Portugal to a table half a world away takes a bit of logistics.

                                    I did have fresh sardines at Montreal's Milos (much of their fish repetoire is swimming in the Med the day before). To me, it wasn't much better than your run-of-the-mill frozen sardines grilled up in a tapas bar. But I'm just saying.
                                    To get fresh, as I said above, I think you'll have to go high end (or pay premium prices at a trusted fish monger).

                        3. re: Big_Salad

                          I think its anatomical, fish store their fat in certain places (just like us). Have a look at this salmon fillet
                          That whitish line is fat. When cooked, it'll turn grey.
                          I'm guessing that when you have no grey, its because the piece did not have this line of fat. I also think if you had this particular piece perfectly cooked, it would still have grey.

                          As for the original question about canned sardines without the brown stuff (I say fat...) I'm not sure, but maybe.
                          They'd have to be fillets, not whole. I'm guessing they'd have to be more expensive as there would be more loss. So maybe try some more of the expensive filleted brands. I thought I could make a recommendation from here
                          or here
                          but alas the listings are short on fillets or fat content. Makes for good reading, though.

                          1. re: porker

                            Yeah that 2006 thread was the longest and most complex I've ever tried to read on Chowhound. Did they even mention the brown? You've convinced me about the dark spot existing prior to cooking (I've cut it away raw too). I have a harder time accepting the whole fat postulate, but that might be true.

                    2. There's an old joke... You know what the white stuff is in bird poop? Also bird poop. Sorry for the gross analogy (while talking about food, no less), but I think the brown rust part in sardines is... sardines.

                      That's probably not very helpful.