Having personally tasted just about every canned meat and fish product available, including some that were done locally by folks using special, time-tested recipes, I can unequivocally assure you that nearly all tasted somewhat like doggy doo! Canned fish, in particular, is really bad. And, for the most part, it pretty much smells bad as well. I'll take fresh or frozen every day of the week. And, because we're out cruising around on relatively slow-moving boats, often in near-shore waters, we have an excellent opportunity to catch lots of great tasting, fresh fish on a daily basis.
Most of the canned meats I've taste tested have been mediocre at best. Spam has never been among my favorites, though while in the Navy I had to learn to love it or starve. Canned sausages just don't cut it - ever. Now, I do enjoy canned, smoked hams, but that's not something I will be doing myself. Besides, Hormel has this down to a science and really does a great job and sells it for a low price. Surely, no one in their right mind would can venison, or beef. Ugh!
Canned chicken and turkey breasts are inexpensive and very, very good. You can use this in place of tuna for making a tuna-salad sandwich, add a little Old Bay Seafood Seasoning, some sweet pickled relish, mayonnaise and wow! It' pretty darned good. And it will last a long time in the refrigerator after it has been prepared.
Smoked fish and meats will last a long, long time in the refrigerator or freezer, and I have a great electric smoker here at home and a 50-pound bag of hickory chips. I've been smoking fish for more than 3 decades, my friends and family love it, and smoked fish used in place of canned tuna for fish salad sandwiches is out of this world. My personal favorites are salmon (of course), bluefish, Atlantic croaker, mahi, king mackerel, cero mackerel and Spanish mackerel. Oily species tend to be best for smoking, while species such as striped bass, catfish, bluegill, largemouth bass and pike do lend themselves well to this process. Those are best served fresh, either baked, broiled or fried. Lobster and shrimp do not work well for smoking and canning as well. Fortunately, non-oily species will freeze for extended periods when frozen in zip-lock bags filled with fresh water and retain their quality for months on end.
Smoked venison is pretty darned good as well. It makes great venison jerky, and a smoked venison roast sliced paper thin makes incredible Philly Cheese-steak subs.
Smoked venison sausage, especially sweet Italian style, is outstanding. Lots of great recipes on the Internet for this. It also makes great Kielbasa too. Just don't put it in a can or jar - much better fresh or frozen.
Here's my recipe for Smoked Salmon:
There are lots of good recipes for smoked salmon. Unfortunately, there are not many great recipes for smoked fish, but this particular one seems to be the best of all. After more than five years of experimentation, using every species of fish available in the mid-Atlantic region, the recipe has been modified until it has finally reached the pinnacle of perfection. If you enjoy the flavor of smoked fish, especially oily species such as salmon, bluefish, Atlantic mackerel, king mackerel and cobia, you'll love this.
2 qts. Water
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 tblsp. Old Bay Seafood Seasoning
4 tblsp. chopped, fresh Vidalia onions
˝ cup kosher salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tblsp. Montreal steak seasoning
6 drops Worcestershire sauce
1 tblsp. lemon juice
Thoroughly mix all ingredients of brine solution in a plastic container until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Using a flat, Tupperware container pour in a small amount of bring solution (about one-inch deep). Cut fish fillets into inch-thick, four-inch squares and place them in the container in layers. After the first layer is in place, pour in enough brine solution to cover them, then add the second layer and continue until all the fillets are covered with brine. Cover the container using a sealable lid or Saran Wrap and refrigerate for five days. Be sure to agitate the container at least once daily to prevent the brine ingredients from settling–this is important. If there are several layers of fillets, it's also a good idea to occasionally separate them at least once daily to ensure all surfaces are exposed to the brine.
At the end of the brining period, remove the fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Place them on a broiler pan sprayed with Pam non-stick vegetable oil and bake in a 350-degree, preheated oven for 25 minutes, then place the fillets in the smoker. Using an electric smoker, smoke for approximately two hours using hickory chips. When the fillets are golden brown in color, remove them from the smoker, allow a few minutes for them to cool, then place them in Zip-Loc bags and refrigerate overnight before serving. While they taste good fresh from the smoker, the hickory flavor penetrates the meat completely when refrigerated in air-tight bags. The smoked fillets will last up to six weeks in the refrigerator and may be frozen for up to three months. Smoked fillets can be shredded and used with your favorite dip, or you can make a fantastic smoked salmon salad to be used as a substitute for tuna-salad. Enjoy!