Q: Where is Dave's Gourmet Seafood Caught?
A: Our wild salmon, King and Sockeye, are caught in the Pacific Northwest region. Specific harvest locations are surrounded by the coastlines of Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Since all our salmon is wild, we catch our salmon wherever the season is most abundant at the time. During the summer months we take advantage of the abundant local season right here in Santa Cruz California. The local area of catch goes from the Monterey Bay Sanctuary area to the Big Sur Coastline. Both our salmon and albacore are caught in their ocean habitat where their oil content is at its greatest. This high oil content enhances the flavor and nutritional content of the fish.
Similar to the salmon species, the area where tuna is caught in its migration pattern dictates the oil content of the flesh. Our Albacore Tuna is also caught in the Pacific Northwest Region where the tuna flesh has its highest oil content. This is unlike many competitors' tuna products, which are frequently caught in the South Pacific region where the oil content is unfavorably low.
Q: What methods do you use for harvesting your fish?
A: Dave's Gourmet Albacore employs the most sustainable & responsible methods available to harvest our seafood. The process of harvesting both our albacore and salmon are among the most primitive and discretionary methods when it comes to selecting the best. We use a specialized 'Hook & Line' technique, also known as 'trolling'. Each line ran uses only one single hook, so as soon as a fish bites the hook, it is immediately reeled in, and landed aboard the boat.
We then flash freeze our tuna at sea allowing us to reduce the number of times necessary to cook the fish for processing. In terms of our salmon harvest, we freeze all of our salmon at sea unless it is coming in locally. This method facilitates the highest preservation of the natural oils, nutritional content and flavor of the fish.
Q: I have been hearing a lot about high mercury levels in Tuna, what can you tell me about that?
A: There has been a lot of talk about the unsafe mercury levels in "Tuna" recently, which has become a growing concern for many tuna lovers. In order to understand the facts behind these serious statements we must first understand that the "Tuna" with unsafe levels of mercury are by no means a lump sum. There are many different species within the genus of Tuna. The specific species that contain these unsafe amounts of mercury are found in older Yellow Fin, Blue Fin and Albacore. All the aforementioned species can reach a long life span of over 40 years. As these fish get older they tend to migrate to warmer pacific waters and live. It is in these circumstances that they have seen higher mercury levels. These fish are very old and have had many years to accumulate mercury into their bodies. However our albacore is 'hook & line' caught off the Pacific Northwest Coastline and the Monterey Bay Sanctuary area. When albacore are younger they stay in the colder Pacific waters. All the albacore that we catch and process from the colder Pacific waters are specifically between the ages of 2-5 years old. Mercury levels in such fish are at minimal trace levels, some non-detectable. We have conducted mercury tests on both our salmon and albacore, which can be viewed in our HEALTH & NUTRITION section.
Q: What is the difference between your canned tuna and 'Chicken of the Sea', 'Bumble Bee' and other commercial brands?
A: It is not difficult to compare Dave's canned Gourmet Albacore with other commercial brands.
- Quality Catch: The hook & line fishing methods used in catching Dave's canned albacore ensure the freshest catch. With only one hook per line, as soon as a fish bites the hook, it is immediately landed, bled, and flash frozen. This quick handling of the fish, and the way they are frozen on board within minutes of catch is the leading factor in producing Dave's quality seafood products. (You can read about our fishing methods in the above questions.)
- Finest Fillets: The canning process starts by filleting albacore into choice 'center cut' loins. These choice fillets are of 'sashimi grade' -which means they can be served as sashimi (raw fish). These choice grade fillets are hand selected for each can resulting in the very best can quality and taste.
- Careful Canning: After the fillets are prepared for canning and selected, they are then hand packed into each can and individually weighed. After packing is complete, the cans are run through the lid seamer machine, and carefully stacked into the cooker basket. As soon as the cans are all sealed and stacked, the basket goes into the pressure cooker where they are cooked at monitored cook times. This method of canning is called 'cold' or ' fresh' packed, because the the fish is canned when cold and fresh. Another benefit to this type of canning is that the product nutrients are not lost in processing. The juices in the can contain the essential omega 3 oils, so beneficial for good overall health. Most commercially sold brands are produced in a high production cannery where the fish are actually pre-baked in large ovens prior to the actual canning process.
- Nutrient Rich: The rich delicious flavor of our canned albacore is definitely the deciding factor when choosing between our products and other commercially sold tuna. Our uniquely old-fashioned canning methods assure our canned tuna to be a cut above the rest! Commercially sold canned tuna is usually machine-packed. In these machine-packed canneries the albacore is baked before it goes into the can, so the machine can pack the dry flesh easily--which causes most of the natural fish juices and omega-3 oils to be lost. This is the reason behind the commonly seen "Tuna in Water"--the water is used to compensate for lost fish juices.
Q: I have an old can of fish, how do I know if it is still ok to eat? Is there an expiration date?
A: Our quality canning methods greatly prolong the shelf life of our canned fish. Both the canned albacore tuna and wild king salmon have shelf lives of approximately 8-10 years! In fact, the longer you are able to store your cans before eating them the better! By letting the cans slightly age, the natural juices and oils can settle into the fish, which increases its soft flakey texture. The shellfish we carry have a shelf life of 2-3 years. There is no apparent expiration date on each can; the expiration date is found within the cannery code.
Q: How should I store the left over canned fish?
A: The best way to store your leftovers is to put them in a separate container, such as, Tupperware, plastic wrap or zip-lock bags and store in the refrigerator.
Q: How long can I store left over canned salmon and albacore?
A: When stored properly, our canned albacore and salmon can be stored 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Q: How is the fresh seafood packed for shipping?
A: All of our seafood is vacuum-sealed. All of our fresh and fresh-frozen seafood is packed in Styrofoam boxes with ice blocks.
Q: How long will the vacuum packed seafood last once I receive it?
A: Our seafood is vacuum packed directly after it is filleted. If you receive a frozen product it can be stored in your freezer for 3-6 months. Our fresh seafood can last in your refrigerator for up to 10 days. Our smoked salmon and albacore can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 6 weeks unopened--once it is opened it will last 10 days in a sealed container.
Q: What are Struvite crystals?
A: On rare occasions, small crystals having all the appearances of pieces of broken glass may be found in canned salmon. These crystals are colorless, transparent and tasteless. They vary in size, sometimes being so small as to impart only a slight grittiness to the salmon and at other times being PI inch in length. These crystals have been identified as magnesium ammonium phosphate, which is the natural occurring mineral, Struvite. Although these crystals resemble pieces of broken glass, and are often mistaken for glass, they are harmless even if swallowed.
The separate chemical substances capable of uniting to form crystals of magnesium ammonium phosphate are always present in the bodies of all animals, including human beings. It is only under certain conditions that these substances unit to form the crystals. Struvite crystals have been found to be sixty times more prevalent in wild Chinook King Salmon than in any other species. (References: Canning Memorandum; Continental Can Company, Inc.)
Dave's Gourmet Albacore understands your concerns and assures you that the crystals are perfectly harmless and readily soluble. Some containers add acids and chemicals to their products to eliminate this crystal formation. Our company is committed to keeping our products as natural and pure as possible for you, therefore we choose not to use any chemicals in the canning process.