Popular Canned Food In 19 Countries

Popular Canned Food in 19 Countries

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. 

Australia: Tinned Oysters

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.

Brazil: Beans

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: Canned Mushrooms

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.

Germany: Tinned Herring Filets

In Germany, herring is considered a staple food that is usually enjoyed salted, but tinned herring filets offer a good source of protein as well. Each region has its own herring specialty. 

Greece: Dolmadakia

Rice, onion, spices, and dill are combined and then wrapped in grape leaves for this classic Greek mezze. Canned dolmas minimize kitchen work and provide a nutritious snack.

Guam: SPAM

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.

Italy: Tuna

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.

Japan: Tuna

A whole, fresh Bluefin tuna costs thousands at auction in Japan, but inexpensive albacore tuna is a common staple item found in pantries across Japan. 

Mexico: Chicharos

The relatively short growing season for most peas makes canned varieties more popular and affordable. Chicharos (green split peas)are used in soups, purées, and more.

New Zealand: Tinned Spaghetti

Somewhat resembling Chef Boyardee, Watties is a popular tinned spaghetti found in New Zealand. This canned pasta is also popularly served on toast for dinner.

Sweden: Surströmming

Unique to Sweden, this canned fish is made with fermented Baltic herring, and is particularly popular in Northern Sweden.

Portugal: Tuna Packed in Oil

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: Pickled Vegetables

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.

South Africa: Baked Beans

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. 

Spain: Anchovies

Spain is known for its canned fish and, particularly, its canned anchovies. They aren't necessarily cheap, but canned Spanish anchovies usually have a mild, clean flavor.

Thailand: Mackerel in Tomato Sauce

Roza brand canned mackerel is ubiquitous in Thai grocery stores. The canned fish provides a cheap, instant meal-in-a-can.

Turkey: Tuna Packed in Oil

Like so many other countries, canned tuna has become a staple in Turkish pantries, which is used for mezze and as a cheap source of protein.

United Kingdom: Spotted Dick

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.

United States: Applesauce

According to the USDA, canned fruit ranks among the most popular canned item gracing U.S. grocery store shelves. Applesauce in particular comes out on top, perhaps because of its low price, relatively healthy reputation, and versatile use in everything from breakfast snacks to dinnertime soups.