Best Sardines?

Wild Planet is decent. $2.79/can at Fresh & Easy. A few cents cheaper at some online places ($2.23 on Amazon). Here's an interesting write-up:



I must admit that Wild Planet’s failure to disclose where their sardines are packed and processed, as well as their decision to have then "lightly smoked" predisposed me against them, but my palate is always the final arbiter. The green tint of the extra virgin olive oil did make me happy, but the arrangement of the sardines was somewhat less than appealing. Being used to the sight of silvery sardine skin and with little but their black backs showing in the just-opened can, they looked like baby eels. Given the amount of unappealing brown liquid in the can with the green oil, I believe that they use a one stage cooking process. My first bite after I poured off the liquid yielded a disturbingly strong taste of ‘fake’ smoke and bitterness. With extended exposure to the air, the flesh yielded a pleasant, mild smokiness, and I also discovered that it was the dark part of the skin that was bitter. â€œAqueous natural smoke” is ‘liquid’ smoke flavoring developed by food chemists in any number of strengths that is added to the can in lieu of actually smoking the fish as they do in Northern Europe. (The food chemists and fish canning companies have convinced those in charge in this country that the use of ‘aqueous natural smoke’ and actual ‘wood smoking’ produce the exact same effect on the palate, and so they are allowed to use the phrase ‘smoked’ on the label even though the fish isn’t actually smoked, although they must then list ‘aqueous natural smoke’ as an ingredient.) The fish had a pretty good texture given the fact that it had been frozen to make the journey from California to Vietnam. I tried a second can to confirm my initial impressions, and the ‘fake smoke’ and ‘bitterness’ were even more pronounced.


These are "Pacific sardines, Sardinops sagax." Apparently Sardina pilchardus (aka, Portuguese sardines) are the best.


Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi allolio di olivo Portugal/Italy won this guys' extensive taste test.


Anyone else have any comments/suggestions?


  • From Podcast #90:

    Andy Hnilo  Skyler trevino â€¢ 16 days ago

    I like vital choice and the maroon can from trader joes.


    Vital Choice: We have decided not to claim that our can linings are “BPA-Free” until we find a lab that can reliably test the linings … a search that so far has been fruitless. No seafood company of which we are aware claims that their cans are BPA-free.


    More listed here:

  • SkeletorSkeletor The Conqueror Worm ✭✭✭

    King Oscar's cans are BPA-free, actually, if memory serves. And they're damn tasty, too.

    "I know how to despise mere cool intelligence. What I want is intelligence matched by pure, physical existence, like a statue." --Yukio Mishima


    Let's be friends on MyFitnessPal!

  • I have recently become curious about the quality of sardines, as well. I have typically chosen either Wild Planet or Trader Joes sardines packed in spring water. I have been unable to find any information (in my admittedly topical research) of much use. For the time being, I will continue to buy the Trader Joes variant due to the ease of picking them up while at work, and also the cost effectiveness. At roughly $1.10 per tin, it is hard to look to the $4-5 tins for a slight differentiation in quality.


    I am going to refrain from purchasing salmon for the next few months in efforts to dial back the food budget to allow for a bit of travel, so I will be consuming a fair amount of sardines in the mean time. I am hoping to come across some recipes and new ideas, rather than just throwing them in my salads. I will be doing a bit of Google searching, and perusing the Fat Burning Chef cookbook, but it never hurts to ask for some BP'ers personal favorite preparations.

  • I found out Costco sells Wild Planet in olive oil for $1.66/can ($10/6)

  • what do you folks think is better, packed in water or olive oil? i'm guessing the olive oil they pack them in isn't the greatest quality....but i do like the texture more than the ones in water...

  • I'm thinking that the olive oil might become oxidized when the sardines are cooked in the can, therefore I go for water packed.

  • SkeletorSkeletor The Conqueror Worm ✭✭✭

    I've heard that the olive oil breaks down the omega 3s in the fish. Plus there's the question of oil quality and whether or not it's going to oxidize in the preparation process. I eat the ones in water. No reason you can't add your own sauce/oil to 'em, though!

    "I know how to despise mere cool intelligence. What I want is intelligence matched by pure, physical existence, like a statue." --Yukio Mishima


    Let's be friends on MyFitnessPal!

  • NickatNickat
    edited March 2014



    Sardines are named after Sardinia, Napoleon Bonaparte helped to popularize them by initiating the canning of sardines. Like `em fresh and not canned but they are seasonal that way and have to be eaten same day or by the day after getting them. Above are some we made for our working lunch with sweet potato and salad.

    When we buy canned we get them in water and sometimes olive oil....sometimes we do worry about the oil too so mostly brine. There are six different types of species of sardines and there are over 20 fish varieties sold as sardines throughout the world. Pilchards are the most common name.

  • In this factory, at least, the oil is added after cooking:  It seems that would avoid oxidation problems (though quality concern is still relevant)

  • I remember reports on olive oil not really being olive oil, but canola or soybean mixes. I would think that if a company didn't make sure they get good olive oil, it might be fake. I might stab a fool with my angry words If I was unknowingly fed soybean oil.
  • I enjoy both the Wild Planent sardine in olive oil, and with lemon. They are inexpensive and availible pretty much everywhere.


    However, I don't think they are the best sardines out there by any means, but at this point of times I don't see any other alternatives.


    Wonder if you could buy in bulk from somewhere online that sells sardines?

  • edited July 2014

    I would like to resurrect this thread, and help me to choose the best sardine type out of the ones available. I want to use sardines as a portable source of protein, omega 3 and minerals, especially when I do not have the conditions to cook.


    There is no really a species of fish called "sardines", and many different varieties are sold as such, but there are three types of canned fish that I see in shops sold as sardines:


    1) European pilchard (Sardina pilchardus) from Morocco, Spain and Portugal - price for the cheapest ones is around 4.60 EUR (6.30 USD) per 100g protein in them, usually canned in sunflower oil, more expensive in olive oil or rarely water. They have on average 21.6g protein and 13.4 g fat per 100g fish.


    2) European sprat (Sprattus sprattus) also known as bristling, brisling or skipper - the most expensive kind, the fish are really tiny, smaller then the pilchard, but also have only 16.5 g protein per 100g of fish, so cost of cheapest ones in sunflower oil comes up to 6.50 EUR (8.90 USD) per 100g protein. And the more expensive ones are KING OSCAR in olive oil: 9.80 EUR (13.30 USD) per 100g protein . Not sure how much fat they have, as the packing says 23.5g per 100g of fish, but on the website its 13g per 100g fish (both places mention that the nutrition values are for drained fish). Coming from north-east Atlantic, the KING OSCAR ones from Norway.


    3) Peruvian anchoveta (Engraulis ringens) - a fish of the anchovy family - the cheapest kind, only around 2.40 EUR (3.30 USD) per 100g protein, so about half of the price of the most popular European pilchard. they come canned in sunflower oil, from Peru. 24.3g protein and 5.3g fat per 100g fish.


    Are there significant differences in the nutrient value and bulletproof'ness of the above fish? Given the price of the pilchard and sprat being double or triple of the super-cheap Peruvian anchoveta, is there anything better about them (in terms of nutrient value and bulletproofness) to justify paying the higher price? Because if there is no difference, or the difference is insignificant, I'd just go with the Peruvian ones and spend the saved money for other upgrades.


    I drain the fish, trying to get rid of the oil which they where canned in, so I guess that little sunflower oil which remains is not gonna make a big difference, so its not worth paying double price of olive oil or water canned ones. Or is it?

  • NickatNickat
    edited July 2014
    Anyone tried fresh sun dried sardines?

    Would that be like an equivalent of beef jerky?

    Convenient if it was.
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