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Chilli con carne, perhaps the best tinned food product

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What is the issue?
Tinned food products have an excellent shelf-life making them an ideal food for the long distance cruiser. However when you rely on them extensively, irrespective of the food product they happen to contain, they all begin to taste like the tin can they came in.

Why address this?
Food is the single most important fuel a sailing vessel runs upon. It is also one of the most pleasurable aspects of sailing and having a product that is enjoyable is essential. Having an inherent long life food product that is easy to prepare and stands the test of time is more than beneficial to the seagoing life.

How to address this?
Tinned Chilli Con Carne by Iceland
Photo: Courtesy of Iceland Foods
From the long-standing experience of a variety of tinned products, we found that Chilli Con Carne was the one canned item that stood the test of time. Commonly known in American English as simply "chilli", it is a spicy stew containing chilli peppers, meat (usually beef), and often tomatoes and beans.

We did not have a refrigerator aboard and when making the long legs that were up to a month in duration, we tended to rely on tinned food a lot. So by the end of our completed circumnavigation, we had experienced more tins than anyone would ever want to.

Tinned Chilli Con Carne by TESCO
Photo: Courtesy of TESCO
After doing this for some time we soon began to taste nothing but the tin-can itself and boat meals became a bit dull. It was during this time we noticed that we somehow never tired of Chilli Con Carne and always looked forward to it.

Stagg Chili Con Carne
Photo: Courtesy of Stagg Chili
I am not sure what it was about Chilli Con Carne that kept it standing where all others faded into tedium, or tin-dium. Perhaps it was its spicy nature that covered the taste of the tin. It could be the fact that it was so easy to enhance it by adding fresh slices of garlic and onions that naturally fitted the meal. It might also be in the fact that it is one of the most healthy canned items available - good iron, B vitamins and zinc for energy plus about 20g protein - and a body at sea craves these resources. It could simply be in the meaty comfort food that it is by nature. Whatever, it was the only tinned item that we never tired of.

Also, it is also a very quick and easy hot meal to prepare, as all that is required as an accompaniment is rice. This is another long life food that provides high energy and takes up little storage space making it ideal to have aboard.

So, if you are in the wholesaler wondering which tinned foods you should stock up on, I can wholeheartedly recommend Chilli Con Carne as it stood the test of time for us. When looking for other tinned alternatives I would try similar spicy dishes whose natural properties you can augment by adding fresh spices, and anything that works well with fresh onions and garlic that will last the length of a voyage.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.
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