NOTE – This is a long review so I am pointing out at the beginning there is a video going over all the individual items at the end of it. It also talks a lot about different ideas for using this stuff.
Every day, I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience, and I have researched enough to recommend it.
Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Matiz Tinned Seafood Variety 10 Pack. Now I first brought Matiz to you with their Sardines in Olive Oil back in 2016, so tinned fish is nothing new at TSPC. We have also brought you Wild Planet Mackerel years ago. And man oh man, I remember eating canned sardines, octopus and kippers with my grandfather when I didn’t even have two digits to my age. Yet recently I have found a renewed love for “tinned fish” and found out I am not even close to alone in this.
Apparently the concept has spread and there are entire online communities dedicated to tinned fish. Though them I am learning about all sorts of cool stuff you can get in tins like cockles, razor clams and even squid in ink. I will be bringing you guys a lot of this stuff in the future, because frankly it is originally strait up prepper food.
It all goes back to 1799 when Napoleon Bonaparte offered 12,000 French francs (about 250K dollars in today’s money) to anyone who could devise a new method to preserve food for transport. A confectioner and chef in Paris named Nicolas Appert began experimenting in 1795. Inspired by wine in corked bottles, Appert placed food inside glass jars reinforced with wire and then corked and sealed the jar with wax. It worked and was part of the 1806 World’s Fair.
Of course a cheap and highly available form of protein of the time was fish, which soon were being jarred in huge numbers. Shortly after, the British inventor and merchant Peter Durand patented his own method, this time in a tin can, creating the modern-day process of canning foods. By the 1830s salmon were being canned heavily in Scotland, by the 1840s Maine and Canada. And the rest as they say is history. And it was cans that made it really work for the military and for shipping long distance in general. Of course metal is lighter and more durable than glass.
Today there are two types of people, when it comes to “tinned fish”, which of course today are not canned in actual tin. One type of person sees them as cheap, smelly and low end. Type two knows that properly done tinned fish are delicious delicacies. Some sardines, a can of smoked muscles, some whole seed mustard, pickles, a few crackers, some really great cheese and a good bottle of oaky white wine may very well be a dinner I’d pick for my last one.
So I thought I would lead off some new content on this stuff with a great affordable variety pack. I haven’t tried everything in it yet, but I have literally loved everything I have ever purchased from Matiz. The cockles are amazingly sweet and tender and if you like spice the piri piri sauce is just money. The octopus is beautiful just with toothpicks out of the can. If you want more ideas for prep with tinned fish I have two books to recommend, they are…
- Tin to Table: Fancy, Snacky, Recipes for Tin-thusiasts and A-fish-ionados by Anna Hezel
- The Magic of Tinned Fish: Elevate Your Cooking with Canned Anchovies, Sardines, Mackerel, Crab, and Other Amazing Seafood by Chris McDade
So what do you get in this 10 pack, well 10 great options to give a wide variety of flavors a try..
- Sardines in Olive Oil
- Sardines with Lemon Essence – These were stupid good
- Lightly Smoked Sardines in Olive Oil
- Mackerel in Olive Oil – honestly these are better than Wild Planet’s mackerel which are awesome
- Bonito de Norte in Olive Oil – This is tuna in nice chunks not anything like low end supermarket stuff
- Octopus in Olive Oil – This is better then it has a right to be as a canned product.
- Small Sardines in Sweet Piquillo Pepper Sauce
- Muscles in Olive Oil and Vinegar – When I saw this I was like WHY vinegar, then I tried them and was converted.
- Cockles in Brine – Think small, tender and very sweet clams as that is exactly what these are.
- Sardines in Piri Pire Pepper Sauce – these are spicy deliciousness
Now here is what I really love about this variety pack. First, as a lover of this stuff, there is nothing in this mix I won’t be happy to eat. For the person new to this stuff though, it lets you try a broad variety of things before buying a lot of them. For instance, the Piri Piri Sardines, I don’t think they are that hot, but you might. You also may want to know that before ordering a 10 pack of them.
Some of it is kind of expensive individually, like the octopus. In fact, it is like 2X the cost of sardines or mackerel. I think it is worth it, simply put octopus is a bit expensive in general. Now I am willing to pay for it, but are you, do you know if you like it? One can will tell you.
So you get to try a ton of stuff which is a lot of the fun of tinned fish anyway. See, the high-quality brands, think Matiz, Ortiz, Nuri, Scout, Coles, etc., are super high quality. They are packed by hand, usually only hours after the fish are caught. These are not the barely better than cat food, cans of sardines packed in seed oils on the bottom shelf of a discount market. These are top-end gourmet quality items. In places like Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Italy, they have known for over a century what the world is just figuring out, tinned fish is just great food.
On top of it all, it is again great prepper food. For example, I just ordered the Matiz Tinned Seafood Variety 10 Pack to give it a shot before doing this review. The earliest expiration date was on the cockles, and it is in 2026 (3 years shelf life), the majority of the items expire in 2027 (4 years), and two in 2028 (5 years). If you are eating what you store and storing what you eat, this may as well be forever.
Last, whenever you talk about fish, the food police start shrieking “wHaT aBOuT mUh mErCuRy”!
Okay Food Karens, relax, it is going to be okay. About the only canned fish where mercury is really a concern is tuna and to a far lesser degree salmon. Frankly, while I like tuna when canned at this level, I personally don’t find it any better than mackerel. So unless I specifically want tuna for something, I opt for mackerel when looking for a neutral and meaty fish.
So why are they low in mercury? Well, all these critters, muscles, sardines, octopus, clams, etc., are low on the trophic scale. All that means is they are at the bottom of the food chain. The higher up the chain, the more toxins like mercury accumulate. So a sardine lives on plankton, but a tuna lives on other smaller predator fish, those fish eat things like mackerel which eat things like sardines that eat the plankton.
Now mercury “bioaccumulates,” simply meaning that it builds up over time if it is constantly in your diet. Hence a fish like a tuna gets all the accumulated mercury across 4-5 trophic levels vs. 1-3 levels that we are talking about with things like mollusks, sardines, herring, etc. Compounding this is tuna are long lived, so the longer they are eating the more they accumulate. Where as the life of a sardine is very short comparatively.
Basically, the guidance on this type of fish is that 3 meals or less a week are fine. Now I love this stuff, but I don’t really have to think about it to eat it 3 times a week or less. Lastly, as I said when I first brought you the Matiz basic sardines 7 years ago, fat is also hard to store. Well, all of these (except the stuff in brine which is salt and water) are packed in some of the best Spanish Olive Oil in the world, super high-quality fat calories. It is a power pack of fat and protein that stores for years. So if you are a prepper, these are gold, just find a few you really like to keep on hand. Finally, it should go without saying, but this is all paleo, keto, etc., approved for those on that lifestyle.
So if you want to broaden your culinary horizon, try a lot of variety, and build up a ton of high-quality fat and protein in a super portable long-term storage way, tinned fish is an excellent option. And the Matiz Tinned Seafood Variety 10 Pack is a great place to get started or just fortify your existing stash of these little gems from the sea. And you get it all for a measly 6 bucks a can.
Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com
P.S. – Check out the video below to see all the items and some ideas for using them along with more on why tinned fish should be in any prepper pantry.