Most people associate canning with the preservation of jams, jellies, soups, and fresh vegetables, but you don’t have to stop there. Some of your favorite foods can be canned—you just didn’t know you could can them.
Canning is one of my favorite methods of food preservation. I love that it makes all food shelf-stable, so I don’t need to depend on electricity to keep the food good. You also can craft some unique full dinners and can them. Who doesn’t love quick and easy meals?
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Most people know that not all foods can be safely canned at home. For example, canning milk at home is unsafe; we cannot reach nor sustain the temperatures needed to kill off botulism.
However, a majority of foods are safe to can, even ones that might surprise you. Take a look to find some surprising foods that are safe to can.
Not all home preservers recommend bacon as a food that can be canned because of its high-fat content. That’s one of the problems with canning ham as well.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do it! Backwoods Home offers an easy set of instructions on how to can bacon at home. Canned bacon might sound strange, but in many countries, it’s how they commonly serve bacon. It’s considered a delicious choice!
Before I dive into this with you, I need to put an important disclaimer here: While you can cook and can bread in a jar, it comes with the risk of botulism. I highly recommend that you either keep the jar in the refrigerator or freezer as an extra measure of safety.
Bread in a jar is baked inside of the jars, so it makes a unique look. Kids love to eat the bread with a spoon—try a banana or zucchini bread instead of just regular bread! You can find a tutorial for how to can bread at New Life on a Homestead.
Here is another surprising food that you didn’t know you could can. Before I tell you how to do so, it’s essential, for safety, to note that canning butter is not recommended or known to be safe. Most home preservation agencies recommend against canning anything dairy-related, including butter.
It’s not recommended because home canners can’t reach the pressure or temperature needed to kill off all botulism spores in dairy. There is still a risk, even if you follow all proper canning techniques.
That being said, canning butter is far from unheard of in the home preservation world. Just A Pinch shows us how it’s done. You will need a pressure canner to can butter, and it takes up to 70 minutes in the canner. That’s about as long as you process most meats.
I love a good coleslaw when I make fish for dinner, and I was so happy when I discovered that it is safe to can coleslaw.
The trick to safely canning coleslaw is that it needs to be a vinegar base rather than a creamy, mayo base. If you don’t like vinegar coleslaw, this might not be the route for you. Canning anything that is cream-based is not safe, so stay away from that.
Chickens In The Road explains how to do it.
I bet you never thought about canning crab, but it’s safe to do so. It’s not safe to can blue crab; you need to freeze blue crab meat rather than canning it. So long as you have a pressure canner, canning king crab is safe.
You do need to use live crab, which can feel intimidating to some people. Don’t let that scare you away from learning how to can crab at home. It can be done, and Mother Earth News will walk you through it.
6. Cream Corn
Honestly, I never realized that cream corn was something I could make at home until recently. Then, I tried homemade cream corn and vowed never to go back to the store-bought version again.
Canning cream corn at home is a safe yet surprising choice for home gardeners and preservers. You’re free to add whatever spices you want, but make sure that you have a pressure canner. It’s not safe to try to can cream corn in a water bath canner.
7. Fish – So Many Kinds!
Are you a seafood lover? If so, you’ll be happy to know that it’s possible to safely can an extensive range of seafood at home. You don’t need to be an experienced canner, but you need to have a pressure canner. It’s not safe to use a water bath canner for seafood.
Some examples of fish that you can safely can at home include:
- Smoked Salmon
- Smoked Rockfish
For more info, here’s an overview of canning fish and seafood.
Whether you grow mushrooms at home or find them at the grocery store, canning mushrooms is possible! However, the only mushroom known to be safe for canning is the white button mushroom. If you grow or harvest other types, you should freeze or dehydrate them.
As you might imagine, it takes a lot of mushrooms to fill jars. You will need between 14-16 pounds to have a full batch—that’s a lot of mushrooms! You also need a pressure canner. Here’s how to do it.
If you like growing pumpkins in your garden, then you’ll be happy to know that it’s safe to can pumpkins at home. The trick is that you cannot can pumpkin pureed. You really cannot safely can anything that is pureed.
Instead, you’ll cube the pumpkin, and then you’ll can it in water. Later, if you want to puree it to make a pumpkin pie or add it to some chili—white pumpkin chili is delicious!—all you have to do is put it in the blender because it’ll be soft already.
If you’re still not sure, check out these instructions from The Prairie Homestead.
10. Sausage Patties
Want to have canned breakfast options? I remember my grandmother canning sausage patties after they butchered their pigs. She spent hours seasoning and shaping the patties, and then canning them into wide-mouth jars.
Now, to be honest, my grandmother didn’t use a pressure canner, and I feel thankful we survived her sausage patties. We know now that sausage patties are safe to can, but a pressure canner is necessary without a doubt. Here’s how to do it.
Ever hear of canned zucchini? Probably not. While you can find zucchini and tomatoes canned together in the store, it’s not a typical item you would associate with canning.
Home canners cannot and should not can plain zucchini. Not only would that taste unpleasant, but the temperatures required to safely can zucchini would be so high that it would turn it right to a mush.
So how can you safely can zucchini? Turn it into pickles or salsa! I’m a huge fan of zucchini salsa, as well as zucchini pickles. I make zucchini bread and butter pickles as well as sweet zucchini pickles. They taste almost just like regular pickles. You can also make relish from zucchini.
The sky is the limit when it comes to home canning. If you want to can it, there is a good chance someone else has done so already, even if it’s a few surprising foods you didn’t know you could can. Sometimes, the surprises turn out to be the best.
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