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Cornish Sardines

Raw materials/Variety/Race

Cornish Sardines PGI is the name given to the pelagic fish of the species Sardina Pilchardus which have been caught and processed in the county of Cornwall. The colloquial name given to the fish is pilchard.

Method of working/Cultivation/Breeding

The processing of the Cornish Sardines PGI is carried out in six phases. After being caught, the fish is filleted during which the head and the backbone are separated from the meat, manually or mechanically. Then, the heading, gutting and the freezing take place. The product is brought to a temperature below 0° C, whereby changing into a solid state. Afterwards, through salting or marinating the product is preserved by adding salt and/or acids, to create an environment inhospitable to spoilage bacteria. The final phase is the packing in individual containers of less than 10 kg.

Aspect and Taste

Cornish sardines are metallic green or olive coloured along the back with golden flanks and pearlescent silver shading to silvery-white on the belly. There are a series of dark spots along the upper flanks, sometimes with a second or third series below. The gills are dark pink or red in colour. The flesh has a firm, fine texture. The individual strength of taste varies with the freshness of the fish and level of fat in the flesh.

Production Zone

The Cornish Sardines PGI are to caught up to six miles off the Cornish Coast. Their processing takes place entirely in the county of Cornwall, in the south-west of England.


The skills of the Cornwall fishermen are the fruit of a centuries-old fishing tradition. The first recorded exports of salted sardines go back to 1555. During the 17th and 18th centuries these exports become one of the mainstays of the Cornish fishing industry with the largest recorded landing being for 1871, equivalent to some 16000 tonnes. Initially exported in the Catholic-based countries of Europe, the product could be found afterwards also in the rest of the Old Continent, so that today they have achieved an increasing volume of sales on the retail market. The progressive growing of the demand and the development of preservation technologies have favoured the fact that today the product is almost exclusively frozen as a method of preservation. Since the 1960s, just one producing firm continues to preserve the Cornish Sardines PGI through the salting process.


Cornish Sardines PGI bought fresh have to be kept at low temperatures, away from heat and have to be consumed in the few days after being bought. The frozen product can be kept in the freezer for maximum 4 months. The product can be consumed salted or marinated, or as an ingredient in many dishes. The sardines are considered best cooked on the grill. The product goes well with other ingredients such as tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and onions. The sardines exalt the flavour of the dishes and contribute in giving a particular taste.


The product is sold as Cornish Sardines PGI. They are marketed fresh or frozen. In the first case the fish is packaged in ice and cool boxes of 10 kg for a short amount of time. Otherwise the fish are frozen and packaged in boxes or bags for frozen storage and then onward to customers.

Distinctive features

Like all fat fish the Cornish Sardines PGI are rich in Omega 3 acids, known for their capacity to lower cholesterol levels, protecting the heart of particular pathologies and easing the pain of arthritis.

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