Lurking in the Cupboard #4: Metal Food Tins

January 23, 2013

I like attractive food packaging almost as much as I like good food and I’m a sucker for a well-designed metal canister. There’s something about the coloured, patterned enamel I find irresistible. It all started many years ago with my parents buying 3-litre Italian olive oil cans – the KING of tins – and my collection keeps growing. 

Red Amaretti bicuit tin

One of my favourite metal tins holds my favourite sweet treats: Amaretti di Saronno almond-flavoured macaroons wrapped in coloured paper. Sadly, the Lazzaroni brand is now hard to find in Australia outside of Easter or Christmas. Delicious with coffee, liqueur or as a cheesecake crust, they have a nice folksy legend around their creation – involving a Milanese bishop, a young couple and crushed apricot kernels.http://blogs.transparent.com/italian/gli-amaretti-di-saronno/


This elegant orange embossed canister appeals to me more than the Frangelico bottle inside. The dark bottle, shaped like a monk’s habit, has a few too many elements I think. My fashion advice to the designers would have been “Before you head out the door, take one thing off.” (Coco Chanel). I like the hazelnut flavoured liqueur On the Rocks or in this flourless chocolate Frangelico cake http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Flourless-Chocolate-Hazelnut-Cake-241088

anchovies in tin

If you don’t like hairy fish, turn away now. I like to eat anchovies the way my father did: on a slice of crusty Italian bread spread with a layer of rock-hard unsalted butter (has to be thick, no namby-pamby scrapings) then with anchovies laid on top. Heaven. The Rizzoli brand is my favourite as they’re packed in good virgin olive oil.

Tinned mackeral

I can’t find the Mackeral brand I used to buy in the bright yellow tins anymore, so have settled for something less colourful. My serving suggestion for a quick snack: tip mackeral fillets onto a plate with some roasted garlic pieces, chopped continental parsley and cracked pepper. Eat with toast. Don’t breathe.

Italian sweets in tin

How do you counter mackeral breath? Try these Bianconeri ‘Confetti alla Liquirizia’ (sugar-coated, mint-flavoured liquorice lollies). The packaging is gorgeous, with the white pebble-shaped sweets under a layer of delicate paper in the hinged tin. Don’t let the cute frolicking children on the lid fool you – these are seriously strong sweets.

And the best part is they make great storage containers for kitchen utensils, spare coins, dry food, nuts ‘n bolts. Upcycling at its best. Metal canisters – TAKE A BOW!

Metal food canisters



  1. Oh I have so many of the same tins in my cupboard! Clearly a north eastern Italian thing

    • I think so, Australia just doesn’t seem to do painted tins well. They just glue a paper label to the tin. Pfff. PS – I made your gelato w/panettone and cherries for my mother. She loved it!

  2. They don’t make tins like they use to! I have one Aussie biscuit tin that’s 50 years old and whenever I pull it out, I also “smell” my mother’s perfume (Lanvin) ; it now holds my jewellery & trinkets, however it’s really the treasure …

    • No they don’t. Speaking of perfumes, I remember my mother buying perfumed talc that came in lovely tins too. Now they’re all plastic.

  3. Love this post … It’s like the sharing of folklore, recipes, fashion advise, home storage advise & how to eat food tips all rolled into one. Fantastico! Can’t wait to find those sugar-coated, mint-flavoured liquorice lollies … sound right up my street. Great work, again.

    • Thanks. I bought those killer sugar-coated liquorice lollies at the Norton St. Grocer in Leichhardt but I guess any other good Italian deli might have them too.

  4. I received these chocs for Christmas – ginger covered in dark choc – my very favourite – but — oh, the container! stunning – just the look and then the feel of it – see herehttp://www.hilliersdirect.com.au/-chocolate-%20coated-ginger?product_id=6 – the chocs finished ages ago but I’m keeping the tin – couldn’t possibly bin it!

    • I might have to try these chocolates. I’ve become very fond of ginger in the last few years. Must be getting old!

      • Not metal, but speaking of packaging – does anyone remember those California Chocolates packed in boxes made of what I assume is California Redwood?, the lid says ‘made in Australia 1lb net weight.’; didn’t know I had them but found 3 when we moved house recently – what craftsmanship with dovetailed corners;. they must be pretty old as i’m 77! .

      • I have vaguely heard of these, but have never seen them. Sound intriguing though. Maybe you might find some information on ebay?

  5. love these! wish I could find some over here, but all the antiques are american. 😦

    • What a shame. Sounds like a quick trip to Italy is in order!

  6. It is like you have reached into my mind and plucked out all of my favourite things. I love Frangelico in an Affogato! Thanks for stopping by my blog – I am glad to have found yours 🙂

    • Thanks. And likewise Anna. All anchovies are friends of mine.

  7. Canned fish, they are great! French sardine tins have great art also.

    • Thanks for the tip-off – will investigate the French designs. Always happy for food/art recommendations.

  8. I am an anchovy eater as well and even once made an anchovy pizza. Was not my best endeavor but you get my point. As for tins, I have a few…wow, that’s almost a Sinatra song.

    • Always happy to hear from a fellow anchovy eater. Seriously, for an easy snack, take some good crusty bread, loads of hard butter (not soft and spreadable), put some anchovies on it, fold over and devour. Magic. And yes, I’m also a lover of lovely tins, especially enamelled ones – there’s something about the feel under the fingertips that I like. Thanks for commenting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: