Is Canned Octopus Cooked Or Raw?

Canned seafood is often on people's minds and taste buds. For instance, canned seafood once hit dizzying levels of virality on the cultural touchstone that is TikTok, where it had something of a moment. As with any food that sees a sudden exposure to a new audience, it makes sense this would lead to people wondering how to cook it. In the case of canned octopus, folks are furrowing their brows over whether it comes out of the can raw or cooked. There is some legitimacy to concerns about consuming raw octopus, both because of the meat's rubbery texture and its susceptibility to food safety issues like Salmonella and Vibrio.

The short answer is that canned octopus is cooked, always, and the short explanation is that it must be cooked, always. This has nothing to do with regulations particular to canned octopus, nor with regulations on canned fish and seafood in general, although you would be forgiven for thinking so. This fact is true of all canned goods. The very process of canning food requires exposure to heat, both for safety and preservation, so everything you buy that's served in a can — whether it be meat, fruit, or vegetable — has indeed been cooked.

Why is canned food cooked?

During the canning process, the foodstuff is packed into the tin, after which all of the space is filled with a liquid. (In the case of canned octopus, olive oil or brine is common.) Then, the can is closed up with an airtight seal, and the food is cooked directly in the can. Cooking time, temperature, and pressure vary depending on what is contained within the can, but it'll always be what's required to fully cook the item.

Some nutrients are lost during this process. On the other hand, microorganisms are killed, which is why canned food lasts so long. Thanks to the airtight seal, the food within stays fresh until the moment that can is opened. This means canned octopus, which lasts about six months (varying a bit depending on the brand), can stay in your cupboard for far longer than chilled octopus (three days) or pickled octopus (three months). It may not taste as fresh and delicious as unprocessed octopus, but that's not the point. The purpose of canned food, as is implied by its Spanish name, "conservas", is to conserve.