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Things You Must Know About Sardine Cannery

Conservas Pinhais Sardine Cannery Nuri Sardine CanSardine Factory Cannery

Discover the captivating world of Sardine Canneries, an integral part of Portuguese culture and culinary heritage. Renowned for their adoration of this small fish, the Portuguese consider sardines a national icon. Their ubiquity is remarkable, as they can be found in local markets, restaurants, souvenir stores, museums, art galleries, and more throughout the country.

During your unforgettable journey with Portugal Cooking Vacations, one of our highlights is a visit to a Sardine Cannery. Immerse yourself in the fascinating realm of sardine processing and gain invaluable insights into this time-honored tradition.

Sardine Can History

The rich history of sardine canning dates back to 1810, when Nicolas Appert introduced his groundbreaking conservation methods in a book focusing on the use of hermetic glass jars. Building upon this concept, Joseph-Pierre Colin harnessed the idea of preserving fish through the process of canning.

In 1853, Portugal witnessed the establishment of its first fish conservation company, Conservas Pinhais, which has faithfully adhered to its artisanal canning method since 1920. Today, this esteemed company produces an impressive 30,000 cans per day, ensuring that the time-honored tradition lives on.

Benefiting from its extensive coastline and the bountiful fish population, Portugal naturally became a hub for cannery factories. By 1925, an estimated 400 canneries were in operation throughout the country. Notably, in Matosinhos, where Conservas Pinhais is located, there were 50 factories employing approximately 6,000 workers. During the Second World War, Portugal played a crucial role in supplying fish cans to European countries and their soldiers.

However, the industry experienced a decline in the 1970s and 1980s, influenced by various factors. Despite this setback, today, there are still 20 active canneries in Portugal. These remaining establishments continue to prioritize the preservation of quality and the preservation of cherished traditions, ensuring that the art of sardine canning perseveres.

Read more: Best Time to Visit Portugal.

portuguese sardine canneryFactory Tour in Sardine Cannery

Embark on a captivating factory tour of the Sardine Cannery, where travelers will delve into the century-old method of fish canning. This immersive experience offers a comprehensive understanding of the intricate processes involved.

Throughout the week, visitors will have the opportunity to witness the skilled cannery workers in action, forming a personal connection with the passionate individuals who form the very soul of this esteemed company. Each day, the production team meticulously plans the activities, ensuring a tailored and informative experience for guests. Rest assured, the scent in the air is subtle, as the fish is delicately steamed to preserve its flavors. Every can that is produced is a testament to exceptional craftsmanship.

Conserva Pinhais specializes in four varieties of canned sardines: sardines in olive oil, sardines in tomato sauce, spiced sardines in olive oil, and sardines in spiced tomato sauce. Even today, the handling and placement of fish and spices into the cans are carried out by experienced women, emphasizing the human touch and expertise involved in the process. The labeling of the cans is also done by hand, as per the revered tradition of the Portuguese canning industry.

Concluding the tour, travelers will indulge in a delightful tasting experience at the Factory Restaurant. This delectable spread includes sardines, accompanied by freshly baked bread, and complemented by the finest Portuguese wines, promising a truly memorable culinary journey.

It is important to note that the factory is closed on specific dates, including January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st, and December 24th, 25th, and 31st.

Nuri Sardine Can

Experience the exceptional taste of Nuri, a highly popular offering from Conservas Pinhais. The exquisite Nuri sardine cans are meticulously crafted by hand and adorned with charming vintage-inspired packaging. Each can is a testament to the company’s commitment to using only the freshest fish and premium ingredients, such as pure olive oil, tomato, and more, ensuring an unparalleled culinary delight.

To savor the delectable Nuri cans at an exclusive price, make sure to visit the factory store. There, you can indulge in the opportunity to purchase these sought-after cans, taking home a piece of the authentic Portuguese culinary tradition.

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a piece of Mediterranean Sardine PizzaSardine Can Recipes

Mediterranean Sardine Pizza

Here you have my mother’s recipe for sardine pizza. I hope you enjoy it!


For the dough:
2 cups flour
One yeast package (11 grams)
One teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of lukewarm water
One tablespoonful of extra-virgin olive oil

For topping:
1/2 yellow onion sliced
1 Nuri Spiced Sardines in Olive Oil (it has chili, cloves, cloves, black pepper, and laurel)
2 Nuri Sardines in Tomato Sauce
One teaspoon oregano
Ten pitted olives quartered lengthwise


a piece of smash sardines on a plateFor the dough:
Mix the yeast into lukewarm water.
Place the flour and salt in the bowl and mix with a spoon.
Add the water with yeast. Mix dough with your hand. If the dough is too wet, add some flour. If it’s too dry, add a little lukewarm water.
Knead the dough into the bowl for about 10 minutes.
Put olive oil on the baking sheet.
Roll out the dough into the baking sheet.

For topping:
Smash sardines and add oregano. I always use olive oil and tomato sauce.
Top each pizza with the smashed fish.
Peel the onions, halve, and cut them into thin slices.
Place the onion and olives.
Let stand in the oven until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Then turn the oven to 220°C (approximately 425°F).
Bake until the underside of the pizzas is crisp, about 20 minutes.
Remove and serve immediately.

Read more: Eat like a local in Portugal.

Portuguese Sardine Cannery Food TastingCan sardine bones be eaten?

Rest assured, the bones in canned sardines pose no harm when consumed. This is due to the steaming process undergone by the fish during canning. When the sardine is gently cooked, the bones become tender and brittle. As a result, if the fish is mashed or broken apart, the bones easily crumble and disintegrate, making them safe to eat. Enjoy the sardines with confidence, knowing that the bones are unlikely to cause any concerns.

Are sardines good for humans? Is it good for your health?

Sardines are not only delicious but also highly beneficial for human consumption. Packed with protein and essential minerals, they offer a wealth of nutritional value. Sardines are particularly noteworthy for their abundant content of omega-3 fatty acids, which play a crucial role in supporting heart health and reducing inflammation. Additionally, they are an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and magnesium.

One of the significant advantages of sardines is their low risk of contamination from heavy metals, such as mercury. Compared to larger predatory fish, sardines occupy a lower position on the food chain, resulting in fewer accumulated toxins in their bodies. This makes them a safe and healthy choice for regular consumption.

By incorporating sardines into your diet, you can enjoy their delectable flavor while reaping the numerous health benefits they provide.

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How many sardines can you eat?

Including sardines in your diet can offer remarkable benefits, especially for individuals experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Consuming six ounces (180 grams) of sardines provides an impressive amount of calcium, supplying up to 50% of your recommended daily intake.

Increasing your calcium levels can be particularly beneficial for individuals with PMS, as studies have suggested that higher calcium intake may help alleviate symptoms and reduce discomfort. By incorporating sardines into your meals, you can effectively boost your calcium levels and potentially experience reduced pain associated with PMS.

Consider adding this nutritious fish to your diet as a natural source of calcium and to potentially find relief from PMS symptoms. As always, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional regarding your specific dietary needs and any health concerns you may have.

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Unveil Portugal’s Culinary Delights: Join our Exquisite Small-Group Food & Wine Tour!

Embark on an extraordinary culinary adventure with our exclusive 8-Day Small-Group Portugal Food Tour. Prepare to indulge your taste buds and discover the true magnificence of fish like never before. Get ready to experience a transformation in the way you perceive a simple can of sardines!

Joining our tour means immersing yourself in a world of flavors and sensations. From the coastal wonders of Portugal to the vibrant local markets and exquisite restaurants, you’ll encounter a gastronomic journey that will ignite your curiosity and leave you craving for more.

Throughout the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to taste the freshest, most succulent fish imaginable. Our expert guides will unveil the secrets of sardine canning, giving you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into this celebrated Portuguese tradition. Prepare to be amazed as you witness the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into every can.

By the end of our tour, your perspective on sardines will be forever transformed. You’ll gain a newfound appreciation for their unique flavors and the artistry behind their preparation. The memories and tastes from this incredible journey will linger with you long after the tour ends.

Don’t miss out on this extraordinary experience. Book your spot on our 8-Day Small-Group Portugal Food Tour today and embark on a captivating adventure that will awaken your senses and forever change your relationship with the magnificent world of sardines. Unleash your curiosity and join us on this unforgettable culinary exploration!

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