About Vital Choice Sardines
We went all the way to Portugal to find the world's finest omega-3-rich sardines! These succulent treats come to us from a family that’s been perfecting their craft for more than 100 years. Just for Vital Choice, they custom-pack sardines harvested when levels of omega-3s and flavor reach their peak.
At our direction, these premium sardines are packed in certified-organic extra virgin olive oil (with or without a red chili pepper), rich in antioxidants and flavor, organic tomato sauce, or water.
The Portuguese sardine fishery is abundant, well-managed, and independently certified sustainable. We get our sardines harvested in mid-October – at their peak of flavor, fat, and omega-3s – by boats from Porto in northwest Portugal.
From ocean to can, with care
Our experienced partner knows which fishermen consistently bring in the highest quality, and they pick the best sardines after a careful inspection of the catch. The sardine harvest happens at night, and the sardines are immediately iced on board.
After being offloaded at the dock, the sardines are loaded into refrigerated trucks for a short ride to the cannery, where the fish are placed into brine (water and salt) bins and then sent on to be cleaned and hand-packed into cans. The cans are steamed and rinsed, the olive oil (organic and extra virgin for Vital Choice), tomato sauce (organic for Vital Choice), or purified water is added, and the lids are attached. The cans are then cleaned, sterilized and readied for boxing.
The cannery is a spotless scene that speaks to the family's commitment to cleanliness and quality at every stage. The plant dates back many decades, but has clearly been well maintained and uses very modern equipment. They've perfected the art and skill of picking the very best sardines, and preparing them with care, to yield an excellent eating experience.
What are sardines?
The term actually covers some 20 small species of saltwater fish, most belonging to the herring family. Sardines used to school in great numbers off the island of Sardinia, west of Italy … hence the name “sardine”.
Like wild salmon, sardines are very high in omega-3 fatty acids, and appear on every “purest fish” list. Sardines are also rich in protein, phosphorus, iron, potassium, vitamin B6, and niacin. This is why, early in the 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte instituted the first sardine canning industry, to provide his people with cheap, plentiful protein.