Not entirely great but

“Lots of older people used to cook tinned tuna and mushroom soup in a pasta bake.”

Not much wrong with it either. Great way to stuff hungry kids.

She argued: “There’s a lot of myths in tinned food – it’s quite surprising, tinned potatoes are a really good source of vitamin C, and tinned sardines give you your full daily allowance of vitamin B12, tinned fruit and veg is just as nutritious for you as fresh. Tinned tomatoes contain more lycopene. Because of the canning mechanism it retains nutrients.

This is Jack Monroe of course. Lycopene, well, it’s processed tomatoes. Ketchup is the same, more of it.

But an interesting point behind this. Some things are going to be better – in that mixture of cost and flavour/quality – when tinned than “fresh.” Much more used to be, that’s why canning arose in the first place. Because tinned sweetcorn was better than no sweetcorn out of season. But now we’ve frozen, world transport systems etc. So, there are things we used to can but which aren’t as good on that cost/quality axis as the alternatives.

Note that the same can be said about any food preservation method. Are strawberries better than strawberry jam?

But this does lead to a question. What things are still available canned which really aren’t as good as the newer methods? Either fresh or frozen etc. Alternatively, perhaps because the list is possible shorter, which things are in fact better using the older preservation technique of canning?

Baked beans – sure, make your own, but it’s a hell of a bore. Sardines? Fresh are lovely but even today getting today’s fresh across the country is not possible. Tuna? Again. fresh is possible but…..peas, no canned peas aren’t as good as frozen. Except for mushy peas but then that’s a style almost caused by canning itself.

You see what I mean? Where does the older technology of canning still hold sway? Soups?

39 thoughts on “Not entirely great but”

  1. I had to look in the cupboard to see what sort of foodstuffs Mrs G. keeps in tinned form. Several versions of fish, four different types of bean and three of pea, one sweet corn, one oxtail soup and one tomato soup…six lagers and a case of tonic water.

  2. There was a time when it was not uncommon for the average American to enrich most dishes with a tin of mushroom soup. However, as with carbolic soap and a tin bath in front of the fire, we’ve moved on.

  3. “Where does the older technology of canning still hold sway? ”
    Geographically, France. Where they seem to can everything. The range of preprepared canned meals available at the supermarché is stunning. And equally delicious. Oddly, Spain, not much at all. Tinned fish, a few vegetables. Mostly, things come in jars

  4. Apples are difficult to preserve other than by canning (by which I mean preserved by the process called canning, not necessarily in a tin). Canned, they’re wonderful; last for years, it’s relatively quick and easy to do, and the apple pie or crumble you make with them in the future is every bit as good as the one you make now with fresh apples. And of course the amount of space you need to store canned apples is a fraction of that needed to store whole apples. And you don’t even need a freezer.

    I’m in the process of canning some just now – glut of really lovely eating apples in the garden. Come the Zombie Apocalypse, life will be cushtie, for those who like apples………

  5. In Switzerland there’s very little meal-size substantial that’s tinned other than ravioli and vol-au-vent filling.

    Which makes catering for camping / backpacking actually rather a hassle – no nipping into Tesco and having a run of various tinned curries, pastas, soups, all day breakfasts and so on to choose from, in handy portion sizes.

    And as BiS says, the French tin an incredible variety of ready-prepared meals.

  6. Prunes. Parent has 6 every day for something nutritional. Soup. Fruit. Fish.

    Good for Mormons.

    Personally I get my sweetcorn on the cob for the freezer when the local coop sells it off at 10% the night before the use by date. About a dozen portions the other day, and also 4 packs of smoked trout last week from about a fiver to about a pound.

  7. Yesterday I’d run out of fresh veg, so ping’d a tin of mackeral, half a tin of peas and half a tin of butter beans. I’ve not seen fresh peas in the shops for ages, and never seen fresh butter beans.

  8. Sardines, baked beans. Tomatoes, but more often in jars (passata). Some jars of pasta sauce, lots of jam and peanut butter,

  9. Canned and fresh/frozen tuna are completely different products with completely different uses. You don’t and can’t do the same things with them.

    Lots of veg can well for convenience and last better than freezing.

  10. Hearts of palm- never had it but saw it in someone’s cupboard once, and would like to try along with pressed cod roe.

    p.s. does Jack recant her foundational claim that tinned tatties are cheaper, because until she does or clarifies her workings out i’ll not be trusting anything she says about nutrition.

  11. “Lots of older people used to cook tinned tuna and mushroom soup in a pasta bake.”

    I’m assuming the tuna and mushroom soup were in separate tins.

  12. Incidentally I finally got a reply from the BBC about the error in the Jack Munroe article about potatoes being cheaper if you buy cans of them rather than loose. They admitted that it was incorrect that potatoes in can were cheaper per kg than loose, but wriggled out of saying she wasn’t wrong because you can buy one can of potatoes for less total cash at a given point that a large bag of loose potatoes. Which is true, apart from the fact you can buy individual loose potatoes as well as large packs of them. And that unless you get given your allowance for food on a daily basis and shop every day for food its still going to be cheaper to buy a bag of loose potatoes for the week than several cans to last the same period.

    But the BBC and its favoured mouthpieces are never wrong I guess…………….

  13. Philip Scott Thomas

    Tuna noodle casserole is standard across the American mid-west. Except in Minnesota, where they call it ‘tuna hot dish’. But Minnesotans are weird.

    It’s not just tinned soup, though,. It’s specifically Campbell’s condensed soup. And if your mom was really daring and didn’t care what the neighbors said she might actually add frozen peas.

  14. Still eating the last glass jars of canned ‘bonito del norte’ the very best white tuna-type for canning.

    Two x 14 kilo fish cooked in salt water and then preserved in sterilized jars in extra virgin olive oil. Took all day and kept the kitchen fully occupied.

    But that was 2015 and I am still eating it….

    At least as good as the very best you can get in the delicatessen here.

    Accompanying salad normally…..

    You don’t know what you are missing!

  15. Tinned sardines for lunch today. Anchovies and squid also OK from tins. Mackerel fillets too. And beef consommé for the bed-bound sniffler.

    As the man said, corned beef. And cooking tomatoes.

    In terms of fruit I am a fan of tinned pears – if only because fresh pears have to be eaten at the right time plus or minus ten minutes. Bloody pest. I also like tinned lychees. On our home made Eve’s pudding I have been known to tip tinned custard.

    Fever Tree tonic is excellent out of tins. It seems decades since I had a beer out of a tin. My favourite fizzy pop, L&P, comes in bottles – I’m not sure I’ve ever had it out of a tin.

  16. Philip Scott Thomas

    Matthew L

    Google tells me the official Campbell’s recipe has peas in it!

    Yes. Whatever is the world coming to?

  17. Bloke in North Dorset

    We have plenty of tins of sardines as I’m rather partial to sardines on sour dough toast for lunch. I’m also a baked bean fan although Mrs BiND isn’t.

    We have a soup maker but we also keep a few cans of soup in for emergencies, but once this batch has gone there won’t be any more as they’ve become insipid. Heinz tomato soup was our ultimate comfort soup on a cold winter day but they’ve fucked about with the recipe so much to please the health fascists that it doesn’t taste of anything, let alone tomatoes.

    I keep a few cans of the Big Soup and tinned vegetables on the boat for emergencies, but those need a load of pepper, salt and chilli sauce in to make them appetising.

  18. @Rob, October 29, 2018 at 11:11 am


    Cambells condensed soup (chicken, mushroom or tomato) is a quick, easy and tasty sauce for chicken pie, pasta bake, vol-au-vent filling etc.

    What I miss are Heinz Sponge puddings – esp the chocolate and the treacle ones.

    Re: Soup – I’ve tried the chilled ones (eg New Covent Garden), no better than tinned and 4 times the price.

  19. Canned creamed sweetcorn is the only way to make sweetcorn fritters. And I still enjoy the occasional Fray Bentos. @ dearieme – You can buy L&P in cans but it tastes better in bottles (and even better in chocolate).

  20. Jim- Good work, bizarro wriggling though.

    Jack/BBC say “use tinned potatoes instead of fresh ones as they’re a fifth of the price”

    then a bit later (pt 4) say : “look at the price per 100g…. to see which is better value for money.” That part is good advice but it looks as if Jack did the non dry weight calculation for her tinned tatties, i.e. counting the weight of the brine as well the potatoes to make tinned a fifth (a fifth!) of the price of fresh.

  21. @Jim, October 29, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Article was correct when written

    Online Order:

    March 2015
    Tesco White Potatoes 2.5Kg – £1.75 = 70p/kg
    Everyday Value New Potatoes Drained weight 345g – 20p = 58p/kg

    Fresh 20% more expensive than tinned

    BBC fobbed you off, lied to you rather than being accurate and honest

  22. @Pcar: why are 2015 prices relevant? The article was on the BBC website in June of this year. Thats when it was mentioned on here , and I made the complaint to the BBC. If Jack Munroe wrote it originally in 2015 then the BBC shouldn’t have republished it 3 years later without checking if the facts were still correct.

    For those interested this was the BBC’s reply:

    Thank you for your comments about the price of tinned versus loose potatoes in a BBC News item on cheap eating tips, at, and apologies for the delay in responding.

    The article, headed, ‘Jack Munroe’s five top cheap eating tips’ was published in response to the government’s announcement on new rules to tackle childhood obesity.

    Her comments about potatoes appeared under the heading, ‘Don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients’, in which she encouraged readers to investigate the tinned aisle for cheaper options.

    We agree that on a per kilo basis, tinned potatoes don’t appear to compare favourably on price to the loose variety. However on closer examination it seems she may be referring to a unit price, and the convenience of carrying home a tin of potatoes worth about 35 p on average, compared to carrying a kilo bag of potatoes at more than £1.10 a kilo, and potentially wasting some of the purchase if not used by the end of the week.

    In her post on how to shop on a budget Jack Munroe advocates for tinned fish, potatoes and fruit, for convenience and to save on waste, at For those who have to walk home because they can’t afford a bus fare this may be a particularly attractive option.

    Budget conscious shoppers will no doubt make their own choices, but Jack Munroe encourages them to be innovative in finding cheaper food options that suit their requirements.

    Thanks for taking the time to get in touch and we have reflected on your reaction to this story.

    Best wishes,

    Carol Stuart

    BBC News website

  23. Incidentally re-reading the letter above I see the BBC are still thinking that potatoes cost over £1/kg loose, when I can currently buy very nice potatoes from Aldi for about 35-40p/kg. I expect that BBC employees only shop at Waitrose or M&S, so for them that probably is the price……..

  24. “Jack Munroe advocates for tinned fish”: no she fucking doesn’t. She recommends tinned fish, or if you must she advocates tinned fish. But she doesn’t bloody advocate for.

  25. Beer tastes better from aluminium cans than from bottles. The reason is photodegredation from light which gives the beer a weird skunky note as some compound builds up. I thought I was mad for theorising this, but it turns out I was right.

  26. I expect that BBC employees only shop at Waitrose or M&S

    I won’t be buying spuds from Waitrose or M&S if they only last less than a week!

  27. “I won’t be buying spuds from Waitrose or M&S if they only last less than a week!”

    Thats true, I really don’t know what world these people live in that they think a bag of spuds is going to ‘go off’ if you don’t eat them inside a week. Have they no concept of how potatoes can be stored for weeks in cool dark conditions?

  28. @Jim


    Spuds can be stored for months. Heck, in times past they were food to eat through winter until new crops harvested.

    Carrots: bought over two weeks ago, still crunchy and tasty – ate one for lunch.

    I imagine most of the “food waste” is produced by BBC & Groan employees and their ilk.

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