Identification & Biology: Rainbow trout is a colorful member of the salmon family. Rainbow trout are easily identified by the broad reddish band or “rainbow” which runs along their side from head to tail.
Range & Habitat: Rainbow trout are native from northern Mexico to southern Alaska west of the Rockies. Rainbow trout prefer clear, cool, high quality water. Sometimes trout migrate to the ocean where they spend several years of their life. Rainbow trout have long been known for the spectacular leaps and runs they make when caught by the sport fisherman in swift, cool, white-water rivers. These fish always put up a good fight during the catch. There are all kinds of trout that are found all over North America (and the world) in freshwater rivers and streams and even a number of Seatrout found from Atlantic Canada down to the Gulf. Species include Brown, Speckled, Brook, Silver, Grey and Rainbow.
Market Description: The only commercially important specie is the Rainbow Trout, and 99.9% of all Rainbow Trout consumed in North America is farmed. Rainbow trout has been farmed since the late 1800's in North America making it one of, if not the oldest, aquaculture specie in North America. It is prevalent in grocery stores and on restaurant menus all over North America - even if it is just described as trout, it's likely Rainbow. In the US, Rainbows are almost exclusively farmed in Idaho. In Canada, Ontario makes up the majority, but they are farmed from Newfoundland right to BC. They are an excellent aquaculture species. They are hearty and resilient and can reach market size in less than a year. The market is very stable and prices rarely fluctuate significantly at all.
Buying Tips: Rainbows can actually get up to 50 pounds, but market size for farmed trout is under a pound. It is very mild and delicate in flavor, far less pronounced than salmon, with an excellent moist tender flake. Flesh color may vary depending on what pigments are in the feed at the various farms. It can range from pale white to red orange. Color has no bearing on taste or texture, just aesthetics.
Recommended Preparation: Suitable for all types of preparation. Rainbow trout is an excellent meat group choice because it is lower in fat and calories than some foods from the meat group and is also a good source of many important nutrients. A 3-ounce serving of cooked rainbow trout contains 22 grams of protein and only 130 calories, 4 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, and 30 milligrams of sodium.
Note: Health conscious Americans should consider including rainbow trout in their diet. Whether you prepare and eat trout at home or at a restaurant, rainbow trout is a delicious, nutritious, and healthy choice.