Canned and smoked sockeye salmon are among the most popular ways for people to enjoy their seafood. These methods for cooking and preserving salmon allow people to pack a work or travel lunch that is delicious, nutritious, and packed with protein. Starting with sockeye’s natural flavor and low mercury levels, canned and smoked sockeye is great for people who don’t mind a smoky and/or salty flavor with their fish. It won’t have the same texture or delicacy compared to freshly cooked sockeye salmon, but compared to cheap lunch meat or peanut butter and jelly, it will feel like fine dining. Just be prepared for your coworkers to be a little envious.

A lot of people have questions about the health and nutrition for canned and smoked seafood. Is it safe to eat on a daily basis? Is canned or smoked salmon better? Is this salmon as healthy as freshly cooked sockeye? What should you look for on the product label? We wanted to give you the best answers and information we could find for these questions.



Hot-Smoked vs. Cold-Smoked Salmon: Flavors and Textures

A lot of people want to know, what’s the difference between hot-smoked and cold-smoked sockeye salmon. Obviously one is cooked in a hot-smoke cooker and the other in a cold smoke environment, but there is also considerable differences in flavor and texture. While both products start with sockeye’s firm texture and rich salmon flavor, the hot-smoked method creates a much smokier flavor and a flakier texture. The result with cold-smoked salmon is a smoother texture almost to the point of being chewy with some brands. The cold-smoke sockeye also described as being fresher and retaining more of the natural salmon flavor. The milder smoke allows for other seasoning and spices to come through.    

How to Choose Healthy Smoked Sockeye Salmon

In theory, the heat of hot-smoked sockeye salmon should make this product marginally safer than cold-smoked sockeye. However, it is also believed that a huge majority of contamination cases happen after the smoking process. For this reason, a reputable cold-smoked company that takes due care in the handling, packaging, storing, and shipping of their smoked salmon is a better choice than a hot-smoked company that has a history of bad practices. Although very rare overall, there is a wide range of bad bacteria that can potentially contaminate smoked salmon, but the biggest culprit tends to be listeria monocytogenes. You can read more about the process and potential pathogens of smoked salmon from this FDA study.

That said, foodborne illness isn’t the only health concern when choosing smoked sockeye salmon. Moderate-to-high sodium levels can make it difficult to eat a lot of smoked salmon every day without going overboard on your sodium intake. If your spouse or other immediate family member is on a low-sodium and/or vegetarian diet, then there’s a good chance you can splurge more regularly on smoked salmon. There is also considerable difference in regular vs low-sodium smoked salmon. More than just taste, salt is used to help kill off and prevent the growth of bad bacteria. Still, when using trusted brands, foodborne illness is very rare even with cold-smoked, low-sodium products.  

If you’re interested in learning how to smoke your own sockeye salmon, here is a great place to learn the basics.

How Long is Smoked Salmon Good For?

Another obvious precaution to take is to store and consume smoked sockeye salmon within the recommended time frame. Some manufacturers recommend keeping their smoked salmon in the refrigerator for optimal freshness. Others suggest a dark, cool place like a pantry. Either way, smoked salmon should generally be eaten within 2-3 weeks or about 3-5 days after the sell by date. You can also preserve the shelf-life of smoked sockeye salmon for up to 2-3 months when frozen. To thaw frozen smoked salmon, simply throw the package into the refrigerator overnight. Once the package is opened, the smoked salmon should be consumed within 3-5 days, or perhaps as long as a week when using a resealable package and refrigeration.



Is Canned Sockeye Salmon Good for You?

Yes. Canned sockeye salmon retains pretty much all of the nutritional value of fresh sockeye. In fact, some studies suggest that canned salmon may deliver even slightly higher levels of omagea-3 fatty acids than fresh salmon. Like smoked salmon, it’s important to monitor the sodium levels and serving sizes of specific products, along with the sodium content of the rest of your diet. Even still, canned sockeye usually has much lower sodium levels than canned tuna. Canned salmon has a lot of cholesterol, but it’s the “good kind of cholesterol.” One long-term health concern with any canned food is the potential for BPA to leech from the jar lid. One workaround is to look for BPA-free brands.

DIY Canned Sockeye Salmon

More than commercial fishermen and casual seafood lovers, there is also a group of people who love to catch and eat their own sockeye salmon. Maybe you live in the rugged Alaskan wilderness or in one of the state’s many coastal towns and as an essential source of cheap food, you plan to catch and can your own salmon. Just because you know how to catch and clean sockeye salmon doesn’t mean you’re confident in your canning technique. Here are some good online tutorials for salmon canning from The Alaska Life and Instructables.

How Long is Canned Sockeye Salmon Good For?

Canned salmon, including smoked and canned salmon, is incredibly shelf-stable. Even 3-6 years after canning, the flavor of sockeye salmon may remain largely undiminished, and IF the integrity of the container remains intact, the salmon may remain edible almost indefinitely. Ideally, canned sockeye salmon should be stored in a cool, clean, dry place. Once opened, all the salmon should be removed from the can and stored in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator. It should be eaten within 3-4 days after opening.

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