Try tins for top taste and value
It’s pretty much a given that at the back of most people’s kitchen cupboards are several cans we’ve had for years and totally forgotten about.
Perhaps a tin of tuna or some kidney beans you once had such good intentions for.
However, as we all seek to be a little more sustainable and less wasteful, canned food may be about to have its moment in the kitchen spotlight once more.
“I feel like tinned food sits in people’s minds in a time gone by when you were struggling, or rationing,” says Lola Milne, author of new cookbook, Take One Tin. “It must be a UK wartime attitude.”
She says there’s a snobbery and “silly” perception around food that comes in a tin. In much of continental Europe, there’s a different attitude. “Especially with tinned fish; I was in Seville and all the tapas bars have huge sections of the menu that’s all to do with preserved fish. In Spain and Portugal, they’re a premium product and they go all the way down to being a budget product – there’s not really a judgement there,” she says.
Milne thinks we’d waste less if we incorporated more tinned food in our diets.
She explains: “People just go crazy and buy loads of fresh stuff and then they don’t know what they’re going to do with it. If you do that with tins, it’s fine, because they’ll be there in 10 years.”
Milne’s debut cookbook is a collection of everyday and more inventive recipes – all using at least one key tinned ingredient.
Milne wants us to know that cooking with tins isn’t just quick, easy and often more environmentally-friendly, it’s also packed with flavour.
“Mackerel in a tin is really delicious, I actually think the texture of smoked mackerel in a tin is nicer – it’s softer, it’s oily, it’s tasty,” she says.
Try her Sri Lankan mackerel curry, smoked mackerel kedgeree or mackerel tacos.
Tinned crab is another ingredient we’re all missing out on, it seems.
She says: “It’s really tasty and way cheaper, and you can just have it in your house. Buy lump crab, not shredded. Shredded is the cheapest one but it’s got no texture. With lump crab, you get actual pieces of white meat.”
When it comes to pulses (Milne describes herself as a “true worshipper of the pulse”), the key is to pay a bit more if you can.
“If you buy the cheapest tinned pulses, they are less tasty, the chickpeas are harder, the liquid is thinner and less starchy and has less flavour.
“If you can afford to buy organic pulses in tins, I would – the other ones aren’t bad, just less flavoursome.”
Cheap, long-lasting and time-saving, because more tins equals less shopping, and who wants to traipse around supermarkets, the humble tin deserves its place in your store cupboard – and it may be time to add a few more.