Canned foods have been a staple in our pantries since the nineteenth century. Once canning was perfected on an industrial scale in 1813 by two Englishmen, Bryan Dorkin and John Hall, canning took off.
While generally considered a cheap alternative to fresh food, canned delicacies, like some canned fish, have recently become the purview of gourmet foods companies charging high prices for artisan anchovies, tuna, and more. Check out some of the popular canned foods from 19 countries that rely on tinned foods for both gourmet and cheap dining pursuits alike.
As one of the largest canned food purveyors in the country, John West cans sustainably sourced fish. Its line includes tuna and salmon, as well as shellfish like oysters which are enjoyed as a snack, on top of toast, or tossed into dishes like pasta.
Rice and beans are a staple food in Latin American Brazil. The phrase “o arroz com feijão,”meaning rice and beans, also refers to the foundation of something, which is why it is no surprise that canned beans are hugely popular in the country for use in simple rice dishes, soups, and more.
China is one of the largest producers and consumers of canned mushrooms. The mushrooms, usually packed in briny water, offer an affordable option for mushrooms to add to traditional dishes and soups year round.
SPAM became popular in WWII. It provided a cheap source of protein for a soldier that was also shelf stable, but its popularity, while waning in many parts of the U.S., still thrives in countries that served as military outposts. It is estimated that the people of Guam consume on average 16 cans per person each year.
Italian canned tuna isn’t exactly the inexpensive “chicken of the sea” that is familiar to most Americans. Italian canned tuna is usually hand-packed, and comes with a higher price tag. The tuna is used for hors d’oeuvres and antipasto platters.
The Portuguese have been preserving fish for centuries. The canned fish is typically boiled in salted water before canning to retain its flavor. The canned fish is usually meant for a healthy and inexpensive meal.
Russia’s reliance on canned foods is very much dependent on its climate and economic conditions. Pickled vegetables remain among the most popular canned food in Russia, which can be added to classic borscht recipes and more.
Chakalaka, a traditional South African dish, uses baked beans as part of a vegetable relish. The flavorful dish is served with almost every meal, making it no surprise that canned baked beans are a favorite staple in South Africa.
Puddings are an essential part of the British diet, and this classic dessert pudding studded with raisins (hence the spots) is no exception. Heinz makes a popular canned version of spotted dick, which can be microwaved, found in grocery stores across the U.K.