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What do I do with the olive oil in canned tuna?

I have saved the olive oil from my canned tuna because I hate to waste food. I just started buying tuna packed in oil this year and have about 4 cups of it in the fridge. I was just curious if any of you have cooked with canned tuna oil? What did you make? and was it good?

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    1. re: ipsedixit

      +1. My dog also loves it over his food as an occasional treat.

      1. re: pinehurst

        i already do this pine...but i still have lots of oil left over since i only drizzle a little bit over their food occasionally- thanks!

        1. re: crowmuncher

          Still remember doing that 37 years ago. A hundred pound dog got so excited he knocked the dish out of my wife's hand. Tuna oil soaked kibble everywhere but mainly on the dog's back. he was not happy.

      2. re: ipsedixit

        thanks ipse, i thought of that but I have a lot saved up already and there will be more oil in the next can I open; this is why i was wondering if anyone has used just the oil in a dish

        1. re: crowmuncher

          Well, maybe next time you grill fish, use it as a finishing oil.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            i meant to also thank you for the recipe- thanks! Good idea- I was thinking about using it to marinade

            1. re: crowmuncher

              Here are some ALTERNATIVE (read: non-cooking) uses for your olive oil.


              I wouldn't necessarily bathe in your tuna canned olive oil, but lots of other ideas ...

              1. re: ipsedixit

                my dogs would go nuts if i started controlling my hair frizz with this oil :)

      3. How long have you been saving that oil? Considering that it certainly has bits of tuna in it, I would wonder about its longevity...wouldn't it go bad at some point?

        7 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          i have no idea; it's my first time- it's been in the fridge the whole time for no longer than about 4 months; i would like to use it up b4 it goes bad though- thanks!

          1. re: crowmuncher

            Four months? And it smells just fine? I wouldn't eat a can of tuna that had been siting in the frig for that long so certainly would wonder about the oil, no?

            1. re: escondido123

              I have to agree with this. Four months is WAY too long to keep oil you've been draining from cans of tuna.

              Toss the current batch & start again (in a clean container), trying to use it up in a much more timely fashion.

              1. re: Bacardi1

                Thank you for letting me know I'm not paranoid for being concerned about this.

                1. re: Bacardi1

                  I'm with these folks. Having the bits of tuna in the oil would be a definite health concern.
                  I would pItch this batch or at least not eat it.

                  Why are you separating it if you want to use it anyway? How are you using the tuna?

                  1. re: melpy

                    no worries, i'm still alive; i used one batch i had saved for only a couple of weeks to fry up some cakes yesterday; it was good, but i was not happy frying w/it since it was really splattery; i'm also not the most experienced when it comes to frying; i will try using it up as i open the cans next time and i promise not to consume the old batch ;)

                    generally i use the tuna to make tuna for sandwiches and find that using all of the oil makes the salad runny; i think the mayo idea is great since i do use mayo in my tuna salad (the expensive kind); this will save the oil and also save me some $

                2. re: escondido123

                  it doesn't smell bad, but i'll be safe rather than sorry ;)

            2. Can I ask why you don't consume the oil along with the tuna? I have to admit I haven't eaten canned tuna in years, but when my mother fixed it for us at home she always used the oil along with the tuna. Is there so much oil in the can that you would not eat it along with the tuna?

              6 Replies
              1. re: mangiare24

                good point, probably habit- i've always drained the can and then added lots of mayo; i will do this with the next cans i open and save some of the mayo- thank you!

                1. re: crowmuncher

                  Try mixing the tuna and oil with thinly sliced red onion, capers, steamed green beans and a little red wine vinegar for an Italian-style tuna salad.

                  1. re: mangiare24

                    sounds good; i've been programmed to eat my tuna salad with mayo :)

                  2. re: crowmuncher

                    I either eat it without mayo with just the oil and seasonings (love red onion in it) or I mix the oil with the mayo, using much less mayo than I used to when I ate water packed. It tastes wonderful!

                    1. re: Transplant_DK

                      have you used this salad for sandwiches? don't you find it too "wet"?

                      1. re: crowmuncher

                        I don't eat bread, so I eat tuna on lettuce or with tomatoes. If I were having it on bread, I'd probably just stir a teaspoon of the oil into the mayo or maybe just drizzle it over the lettuce to keep it from soaking into the bread.

                        Geez, a tuna sandwich sure sounds awesome right about now

                2. I don't eat a lot of canned Tuna, but when I do I prefer oil packed. I would use the oil to make a home-made mayo for use in tuna salad. You could also use this mayo to bind fish cakes made from canned tuna, or from some other fish for that matter. A few other ideas:
                  Use it as the base for the dressing in a niçoise salad.
                  Use it to prep Tuna steaks for searing so you get a sear on the outside faster without cooking the middle.
                  Use it to fry fish in for fried fish (I have no idea if this will work - the oil might have too low of a smoke point or might taste funny)
                  Use it as a base for pesto and use the pesto as a garnish for tuna steaks

                  1 Reply
                  1. Makes a lovely vinaigrette for any salad with a tuna frame of reference -- such as Salade Nicoise.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      i eat salad everyday so i should be able to use it up this way too :)

                    2. You could do a delicious bagna cauda with it....or a skordalia. Use it to brush bruschetta, and then layer that w/ tapenade. And of course tuna pasta.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mamachef

                        just googled 'bagna cauda' and 'skordalia'; i love hot dips- sounds awesome- thanks!

                      2. Do you have a hungry pussycat or a friend with a cat who has some problems getting enough fat in her diet (an older cat problem)?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: shallots

                          My cats love the water from canned tuna, but won't touch the oil. I buy both, and use the oil packed tuna only when cooking something like tuna casserole or other main dishes such as vitello tonnato. Then it is part of the recipe, I have never saved it for later myself. I do like to use the oil from anchovies in a similar way, but that I drain from the jar hanging out in the fridge for who knows how long, so probably somewhat similar life span I'm thinking.

                          1. re: coll

                            Do you ever feed your cats dry cat food? If you do, put some in a separate bowl from their usual bowl & pour the oil over that. My cats won't drink the oil by itself or over canned food, but they do like it over their dry - sort of like milk on breakfast cereal - lol!

                            1. re: Bacardi1

                              I will definitely try that next time, they do like to crunch on the dry but I could see them going for something different once in awhile. The tuna "juice" as I call it, the water packed, I'm surprised someone doesn't bottle it and sell it...if I had the time and energy I'd look into it. Think of all the delis that just squeeze it out into the garbage can!

                          2. re: shallots

                            no, but i have plenty of dogs that get a little drizzle of tuna oil over their food- they love it!

                          3. Unless I could use it in the dish I was currently making, I'd pitch it. My purchase was for the tuna, the oil is basically a packing method.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bayoucook

                              i used to think this way, but these days i really give myself a hard time when i throw out food- even if it's just oil used for packing

                            2. Here's a recipe I came up with when I had both olive-oil-packed tuna & a bunch of Arugula on hand. It's quick, easy, delicious, & rich - the best of all worlds - lol!

                              Bacardi1 Mediterranean Tuna Pasta

                              Two 4.5-ounce cans StarKist Solid Light Tuna Fillet in Olive Oil, undrained; or any other brand of tuna packed in olive oil, undrained
                              Approximately 10-12 caper berries, roughly chopped (or 2 tablespoons regular capers, left whole)
                              Approximately 10-12 Kalamata olives, pitted & roughly chopped
                              1 medium fresh tomato, chopped; or the rough equivalent of halved cherry or grape tomatoes
                              Two large garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
                              Approximately ½ cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
                              Juice from ½ a lemon
                              Splash of dry white Italian wine (like Pinot Grigio)
                              Approximately one teaspoon dried oregano
                              Extra-virgin olive oil
                              4 tablespoons of butter (or leftover seafood butter**)
                              Several dashes of crushed red pepper flakes
                              Small handful of baby arugula (optional)

                              1# of spinach fettuccine or linquini to serve

                              Cook pasta according to package directions & drain.

                              While pasta is cooking, coat the bottom of a large skillet with extra-virgin olive oil & add butter to melt over medium heat. Add chopped garlic & sauté lightly for just a couple of minutes. Do not allow to brown (or – heaven forbid – burn! If garlic burns, start over again).

                              Add all remaining ingredients & stir occasionally – very gently – to heat through.

                              Serve over spinach pasta.

                              ** “Seafood Butter” is the leftover dipping butter I save when my husband & I have steamed clams or lobster, etc., etc. I save & freeze it to use in recipes such as this, as well as for butter-poaching thick fish like cod, etc. While I’d never save dipping butter that was used communally by other people, hubby & I feel that we have the same “cooties”, so this has worked out quite well – lol!!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Bacardi1

                                Bacardi1, that sounds good and a brilliant use of great ingredients.

                                1. re: shallots

                                  Thanks! I really did just throw it together one night when I felt like pasta, & at the same time had some baby Arugula I really needed to use up (even though it's also good without the Arugula if you don't have it or don't like it). Just started picking things out of the fridge & pantry, & lo & behold - lol!!!! I think a lot of the best recipes come to light due to impromptu experiments like this.

                                2. My dogs think it is a great treat to have it poured over their dinner meal. They start hanging around the kitchen whenever I open a can!! And when I make chicken soup? They are all over me like white on rice waiting to be given the skins. Love to not waste and make my puppers happy!!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Nanzi

                                    My cat used to wake from a sound sleep in another part of the house when she heard me open the lid on a can of tuna. She'd follow and stare at me until she finally got to lick the bowl. I had her for 21+ years, and a can of tuna hasn't been the same since she died.