Store Leftover Canned Sardines In A Glass Container To Avoid A Lingering Smell

More than just a reliable staple for your emergency food rations, canned sardines are inexpensive and versatile ingredients that can transform a variety of dishes into elevated versions. From sandwiches to pasta to spreads, sardines are quite useful for infusing some briny depth into your meal.

If you're already very familiar with the convenience of having a stash of canned sardines in your pantry, you might occasionally find yourself having to store some of its leftovers. Although the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service deems it safe to store unused portions of canned food in the refrigerator without transferring them first, this wouldn't properly preserve the quality and flavor of your leftover sardines. Plus, an already opened can cannot be resealed sufficiently to keep its contents from making the whole fridge smell of salt and fish.

It's better to transfer leftover canned sardines into a glass container with an air-tight lid first before storing it in the fridge. Although plastic containers are serviceable, their porous material makes them prone to retaining odors even after washing. There's also the danger of chemicals leaching when plastic gets either heated or frozen. A glass container is the best choice. Although it can be dangerous to stack and takes up considerable space, a glass container preserves the quality of your food longer by keeping it properly covered.

How to best preserve the quality of your leftover canned sardines

Since storing leftover canned sardines in the refrigerator will inevitably dry them up, have the pieces of fish covered in brine once they've been transferred into a glass container. Olive oil will also do in case there's not enough brine left in the can. The liquid will keep the sardines moist and flavorful while in storage. Make sure, too, that the refrigerator is set at 38 F or lower so the leftover fish remains safe for consumption for up to four days.

Freezing is another option, which makes the sardines last for up to three months. If you have a big enough glass container, place a baking sheet at the bottom and arrange the leftover sardines in a single layer before sealing them in, also covered in brine or oil. This extra step helps keep the pieces from freezing together in clumps so it will be easier to take out and thaw only the portions you need. Keep track of the food's freshness during longer-term storage by labeling the container with the date when you opened the can and stored the leftovers in the freezer.

Before thawing, re-heating, or cooking the sardines, check them for signs of spoilage. Look for any discoloration or mold formation on the fish. Inspect, too, for any strong odor and slimy texture. The presence of any of these indicators would mean your leftovers are no longer safe to eat and must be discarded properly.