Since last week when I had a particularly miserable can of Bumble Bee tuna, I’ve been wondering: What’s the best canned tuna?
Today, I organized myself a little tuna taste test to find out. Here’s a recap of the findings.
Canned Tuna Brands Tested
I bought all the brands available at our local store – all except Bumble Bee. In all cases, I bought 5 oz cans of solid white tuna in water (except I made a mistake with one which was in olive oil).
Here are the brands
- Pastene (the one in olive oil)
- Genova Tonno
- Ace of Diamonds
- Chicken of the Sea
From my Googling last week, there are some other brands out there that people like. This post in particular was pretty helpful – but many of the tunas tested there are a bit rich for my blood and/or they aren’t readily available in local stores. Some of the brands I’ll have my eye out for are these:
- Whole Foods store brand
- American Tuna
- Kirkland (Costco)
- Trader Joe’s (whatever brands they sell)
If/when I can track these down, I will add them to the test.
Tuna Taste Test Comparison
Being obsessive, I took photos of the tasting process, but for now here’s the highlights. Maybe I’ll get some of the images up later.
Group A: Genova Tonino, Starkist, Geisha
|slighter darker meat, clear liquid||lightest meat, large chunks visible, very watery and murky||light meat, lot of liquid|
|Amount of liquid drained off||2.75 Tb||1.75 Tb||3.33 Tb|
|‘Solidness’ of meat
|Comments||came out of can dry, most appetizing looking, mild flavor, appeared to be all one piece (but not a dense, solid piece like the Starkist was), not a lot of ‘tuna mush’||even after draining, meat had a kind of watery film of tuna mush on it, (required a couple paper towels to absorb & remove it), most even color, largest /densest chunks of solid tuna||came out of can dry, mild flavor, mostly chunks of meat, not too much ‘tuna mush’|
Group B: Pastene, Ace of Diamonds, Chicken of the Sea
|Features||Pastene||Ace of Diamonds||Chicken of the Sea|
|darkest meat, clearest liquid (olive oil), fairly solid looking||light meat color, fairly clear liquid||meat kind of murky looking|
|Amount of liquid drained off||2.0 Tb||2.5 Tb||2.5 Tb|
|‘Solidness’ of meat
|Comments||not sure how much olive oil changes things, but this meat was darker and stronger flavored than the others. not unpleasantly so, but noticeable||fewest chunks of solid meat, lot of ‘tuna mush’, but the chunks that were there, tasted fine||fewest solid chunks of meat, lot of ‘tuna mush’, uneven color, most like cat food, least appetizing|
So What’s the Best Brand of Canned Tuna?
Of the tuna brands sampled so far, I would say the top 3 brands are: Genova, Starkist, and Geisha.
However, the Starkist recommendation is a bit qualified: you have to take the extra effort of papertoweling off the excess moisture and tuna mush. If you aren’t prepared for that, go for Genova or Geisha.
And the worst brands: Chicken of the Sea, Ace of Diamons, and, of course, Bumble Bee.
Some Tuna Tips
It’s not every day (thankfully) that I have 6 cans of tuna open and available for tasting. But I learned a few things in the process:
- Dry, solid chunks of tuna from most any brand taste pretty similar
- Drain all the liquid – even if it means toweling off the excess goop – the liquid does not taste good
- Use only the real chunks of tuna – discard the ‘tuna mush’ – tuna mush does not taste good
- Cans of tuna with uneven coloring or other funkiness are best disposed of – they aren’t going to be any good
One thing I don’t know yet is how much variation there is from can to can for a given brand. Might the next can of Starkist not be a big, solid chunk of tuna like this one was? Might the next can of Genova be a pile of tuna mush?
These and other pressing questions remain to be answered.