The traditional method of fish preserves at Pinhais & Cª Lda
It is with great pride that we keep a 100-year-old tradition alive! From the selection of the best fish to the hand wrapping, the traditional preserving method goes through 37 stages here at Pinhais, always respecting the teachings of our founders in 1920. In every tin that reaches our customer’s tables in more than 44 countries you will discover the taste of a whole process of mastery, dedication and, above all, much love! Find out why we keep this noble art of preserving sardines alive.
The selection of the best fish
Knowing how to choose a quality fish is a real gift! Our specialists, D. Emília and D. Paula have learned from the old masters how to select the best sardines in the Matosinhos fish market. The best sardines are of course the crucial ingredient for our tins.
The brine process
Back in the factory, it all starts with brining the fish, in salted water. Modern factories no longer use this process, but we deem it important as it ensures the consistency and salting of the fish in a natural way.
The art of cutting
Only our most experienced workers have mastered the art of cutting the sardine – with a single and perfect turn of the wrist, they remove the head and all the guts. A skill passed from mother to daughter for 3 generations.
Washing the fish
This is another step no longer used by the modern industry: we always make sure we wash the sardines after they’ve been placed on the grill. This will cleanse out any impurity that could potentially influence the flavour or the maturing process.
We refuse the temptation to produce more and quicker. Pre-cooking the fish in our steam ovens is a fundamental step in our process. It’s truly a slow-food concept: the cooking is always adapted to the sardine’s weight and fat level, so we can be sure that no excess fat or cooking water gets inside the tin. This operation is performed by Mr. Zé Manel who learned from Mr. Adão a very experienced worker, already retired.
The freshest ingredients
It's time to go ahead with preparing and cutting the freshest ingredients to include in the day’s recipe! It can be carrot, chili or our wonderful tomato sauce - a secret recipe that passed from hand to hand and which only our D. Emília da Afurada instinctively masters.
The ritual of canning
It’s now time to fill the tins. Again, exclusively by hand, of course!
Ingredients are carefully added to the tin, one by one like a puzzle being built, until all the tin space is filled. And voilá! Perfect sardines, with intact and shiny skin, laying on your favorite ingredients.
Oiling and closing of the tins
Before reaching the final stage, it’s time to add olive oil to the tins. At the oiling line each tin is filled one by one with 100% refined olive oil – as neutral as possible so as not to compromise the flavour of the fish. The tins are then brought to the closing machine, where the lid is placed, and the tins hermetically closed.
The sterilization stage
This is a phase of the process that guarantees the food safety of all our production, as it ensures the removal of all microorganisms inside each of our tins.
Cleaning the tins
After sterilization is completed, it's time to clean the tins and store them in the warehouse. The tins are manually cleaned two by two, and then softly banged against one another in search of a very specific sound – that will demonstrate if the tin is full and in perfect conditions. Finally, they are stored in boxes of 100 and are left to mature for 60 to 90 days before being sold.
The mastery of hand wrapping
The last step only happens when an order comes in: hand wrapping. Cellophane and wrapping paper, adapted to the legal requirements of each market, are joined by the skillful hands of D. Luzia who will wrap every single tin of NURI as if it was a Christmas gift.
Hands! Skillful hands, experienced hands, sensitive hands ... The traditional method of Pinhais represents the talent, experience and dedication that the Hands of the Pinhais family put in each production. This is our unique art and it keeps the traditional artisanal craftmanship of the preserves industry alive today.