Do Canned Sardines Have Bones In Them?

If you've eaten a big deboned fish and encountered one of the bones that inevitably sneak through, you might be wary of sardines. After all, unintentionally swallowing the bones of salmon, carp, or pike, for example, can quickly create an unpleasant and concerning dinner experience. They are quite sharp and can scratch your throat on the way down, or even worse: get lodged inside. While that doesn't typically create an emergency, struggling to get a fish bone out of your throat can be laborious. If coughing or drinking water won't dislodge it, you might have to stop eating your fish to grab something soft like bread, a banana, or even a marshmallow to help push the bone down.

Understandably, this can create concerns about consuming canned fish like sardines since their skin and bones are usually kept intact during the canning process. However, their small bones are so soft that they are easy to chew. Many people even tout the health benefits of consuming sardine bones because of their high calcium content. Despite them being safe to consume, it's understandable that some may not feel comfortable leaving them in their fish. Some brands, including Wild Planet, Season, and Safe Catch, will sell skinless and boneless sardines. Just double-check the label to ensure it's specified.

Skeptics can remove the bones

Of course, deboning the cooked, canned sardines yourself is always an option. However, be prepared for your hands to get a little fishy. When a Reddit user inquired about deboning canned sardines, a commenter recommended using your fingers to remove the spine by splitting the sardine open by the neck. "If you pull at the meat on one side it should split easily along the bone," the user added. Since the meat is so soft, though, it may crumble. So, it's important to make sure that all the spine pieces have been removed.

Like with most foods, the preparation of sardines is largely based on personal preference. Some may find that canned sardines majorly upgrade their bowl of pasta while others prefer the salty fish in their avocado toast. With either option, leaving the bones intact is less of a concern since the sardines can be mashed into the avocado with a fork or finely chopped for a sauce. Ultimately, the preparation is largely based on your taste buds.