They are a small pelagic schooling fish with a life span of up to 13 years, but the majority of sardines are less than 6 years old. Sardines can grow to about 1.3 feet long, but typical sizes are less than 9 inches. Sardines live in the water column in nearshore and offshore areas along the coast. They grow rapidly and are important food for many fish, seabirds and marine mammals.
Market Description: Larger sardines have a fuller, oilier flavor, similar to anchovies but milder. They are commonly served in cans, but fresh sardines are often grilled, pickled or smoked.
Habitat: Shallow coastal subtropical waters worldwide
Availability: Limited Availability
Flavor Profile: Full oily flavor, distinct delicate flesh
Fishing Technique: Purse setting
Special Note: The name sardines incorporates all small herring
Suitable Sub: Canned or smoked sardine
Buying Tips: If buying fresh, look for sardines with bright eyes, shiny skin, and a mildly fishy aroma. Plan to cook them within a day of purchase. When fresh, small sardines have a delicate flavor.