Published by: Gourmet Sleuth
Last Updated: 10/15/2018
The concept of placing food in tins (cans) dates back at least to the seventeenth century Dutch. English seamen reported seeing tins of biscuits on Dutch ships. Another sea captain, John Stedman wrote about sailors eating “roast beef packed in dripping in soldered airtight tinplate containers”.
Canning as we know it today was perfected by Nicolas Appert, born in 1750 in the Champagne region of France. Appert was a chef as well as a chemist and began experiments canning food in glass jars. Later he packed food in hand-soldered tins which eventually lead to the full-scale mass-production of food canning.
Except for commercial food preparation kitchens, little reference is made to can sizes except in some older cookbooks. Should you run across those references this chart of standard can sizes may be useful.
So lets put this in perspective for some foods you may be familiar with. Take a look at the charts below and you'll find many of the foods with which you may be familiar. This image will give you an idea of these common can sizes.
The image above shows 5 cans out of my pantry. Starting on the left, back is a DiNapoli tomato can of whole, peeled tomatoes, 20 ounces, a #2.5 can. The next two cans are #300 cans of Swanson chicken broth and Natural Directions organic kidney beans. The front row shows a short, 8 ounce can of Del Monte tomato sauce in an #8Z Short can. Next is an 2.25 ounce can of Lindsay sliced olives packed in a can size we've yet to identify.
A #300 can is one of the most common sized cans you'd find in your pantry. It usually holds about 15 ounces. These cans measure 3" wide x 4 7/16" tall Canned beans, and other vegetables and some fruit can be found packed in this size can. This can is a little less than 4" high and close to 3" wide. On average you're going to get about 3 1/2 servings out of a #300 can.
You may find older recipes that call for #303 cans. They were slightly larger but only by a few ounces. In most cases you'd be safe using the more common #300 can. These cans are still used today for some products.
The #10 can is a large can that averages over 6lbs and over 20 servings depending on the contents. The can measures about 6 3/16" wide and 7" high. You may find these large cans at stores like Costco or Smart & Final, less typically at the grocery store. Clearly this is a very large can and averages a little over 6lbs. If you have a large family this might be economical for you.