Canned wild caught salmon is a premium emergency or everyday food. Price, quality, and taste vary, however, and if you’re going to stock large quantities, a bit of research is in order. To help with that, we’ve done a comparison test for your convenience.
Note: The post photo shows only three brands; Double “Q” joined the test after the group shot.
We tested four brands: Double “Q”, Chicken of the Sea, Prelate, and Great Value. All brands were purchased at Wal-Mart, but prices and availability will vary with your location. The cheapest by far was Great Value, but half the tasters judged it best nonetheless. Prices ranged from $1.92 to $3.12 per can, a substantial difference considering that they were all rather similar in quality. But as prices vary, be sure to check in your location.
The contestants were judged for color, tenderness/moistness, fishiness, boniness, texture, and price. All brands contained 14.75 oz, and assessed their Nutrition Facts based on a 63 gram serving size, which is about 1/4 cup. Test conditions were single-blind; the server knew the brand, but the people tasting it did not. (In a double-blind test the server does not know the brand either).
For the photos, we poured the entire contents of the can into a plate — we did not drain off the liquid. Lighting was overhead incandescent, a camera flash, and daylight spill from a window behind the camera. The mixed color temperature of the lighting (bluish for daylight, yellowish for the incandescent bulbs) affects the color of the salmon in the photos, as do the properties of your video monitor.
Price per can (Highest to Lowest):
- Chicken of the Sea – $3.12
- Double “Q” – $2.26
- Prelate – $2.12
- Great Value – $1.92
Half the judges chose the Great Value brand; the other half thought Double “Q” was best. It was slightly drier and fishier than Great Value, but had the fewest bones and skin. Judges also reported that it had a “fresher, more natural” taste than the other brands, which seems to conflict with the “slightly fishier” assessment. This was puzzling at first, but it might be that the processing was different. Indeed, Double “Q” has the least salt of all the brands we tested; 250 mg sodium per serving, compared to 270 mg for the others. I’m not sure a 20 mg per quarter cup difference is actually detectable on the palate, but it might indicate that they use a superior processing technique that yields the vague “fresher, more natural” factor that half our judges preferred.
Chicken of the Sea
Chicken of the Sea was distinctly drier than the others, and was more pale. This is not necessarily bad if you’re going to make Salmon salad or patties with it. The differences in color are not as noticeable on your video monitor, but the paleness was distinct in person.
Great value was the favorite of half the judges (the others preferred Double “Q”). It had a nice pink color, a mild flavor, and a flaky, tender, moist consistency. It was slightly bonier than the Double “Q”, and while it seems to have more skin than the Double “Q” this didn’t seem to make it taste fishy. It was by far the least costly of the four brands, and represents the best value we found.
Prelate brand was the moistest and most tender, but its distinct fishiness (probably due to the greater amount of dark meat) scored it below the Great Value and Double “Q.” You have to put this in perspective, though; people rarely eat the canned salmon as we did for the taste tests. It’s usually used in a recipe as a salmon salad or salmon patties, or possibly in a soup. Prepared this way, none of these brands would be judged “bad.”
Great Value tied with Double “Q” in taste, texture, etc., but the lower cost edged it into first place. We were attempting to select the best of four very good contestants, and you wouldn’t go wrong with any of them. If cost is any consideration, Great Value would be your choice. It is available in 24-can cases at Wal-Mart. The cardboard case it comes in is very flimsy and won’t support the weight of all 24 cans — you have to load the cans individually into the cart.
I usually find two or three cases at a time on the shelf. Be sure to leave a case for other customers, but get a case or two with every visit until you’re fully stocked.
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