15 Foods You Didn't Know Could Come in Cans

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Time to re-stock your pantry? Think outside the usual can aisle and consider sampling something more adventurous than chicken soup or creamed corn. For inspiration, here are 15 of the world's most unconventional canned foods.

1. HAGGIS

Canned haggis on a store shelf
Matt Ryall, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Haggis, the national dish of Scotland, is made of sheep's "pluck"—the heart, liver, and lungs—minced with onion, oatmeal, spices, and suet (hard beef or mutton fat). Authentic versions of the savory pudding are illegal in the U.S., thanks to food safety regulations. But in other countries, haggis-hungry shoppers can purchase canned recipes if they don't feel like preparing and cooking it themselves.

2. REINDEER MEAT

A bowl of meatballs
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Reindeer meat is a frequent component of traditional Scandinavian dishes and stews, so it’s no surprise that canned reindeer meatballs are available for purchase in countries like Norway and Finland.

3. CAMEL MEAT

Grilled camel meat
Lucas Richarz, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Camels are highly valued in the Middle East, and not just for transport. The meat is considered a culinary delicacy, with the fatty hump being the most popular cut. "In Syria and Cairo there are specialist camel butchers, while in the Gulf, camel meat is eaten at parties and wedding receptions," food writer and chef Anissa Helou told The Guardian. Those without a butcher at their disposal can buy canned camel meat and make dishes like camel chili con carne, meatballs, and stews.

4. POTATO SALAD

Potato salad on a plate
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Potato salad is typically associated with deli counters, but American food processor Seneca Foods Corporation also sells a canned version of German potato salad under their READ® Salads line.

5. CANNED WHOLE CHICKENS

A Sweet Sue whole chicken being cooked on the stove
Tracy O'Connor, Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Bumble Bee Foods is perhaps best known for producing items like canned tuna, but their products aren't limited to chicken of the sea: Their Sweet Sue line of canned and processed meats includes a canned whole chicken, fully cooked and sans giblets.

6. CHEESEBURGERS

Cheeseburger in a can
Arnold Gatilao, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Trek'n Eat, a German company that sells ready-meals for outdoor enthusiasts and athletes, manufactures their own version of fast food: a shelf-stabilized cheeseburger in a can. To cook it, heat the can in water over a fire before opening it and chowing down.

7. HOT DOGS

Raw dogs sitting on a table
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Both Tulip Food, a subsidiary of Danish food processing company Danish Crown, and UK brand Ye Olde Oak sell canned hot dogs to customers who like their meat brined instead of grilled. Ye Olde Oak even sells Fiery Chili and BBQ-flavored options.

8. KANGAROO CHILI

A can of chili
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Kangaroos are so plentiful in Australia that ecologists and landholders have urged Aussies to curb exploding marsupial populations by hunting them for their meat. As for non-hunters in America, they can sample the unusual game by ordering canned kangaroo chili from Dale's Wild West, a prepared-meat manufacturing company in Brighton, Colorado.

9. SQUID IN INK SAUCE

Squid ink spaghetti with seafood
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Squid in ink sauce is used in Italian dishes like spaghetti al nero di seppia, but those without access to fresh seafood can order canned versions of the undersea delicacy from Italian-American manufacturers like Vigo Foods.

10. DUCK CONFIT

Duck confit  on a plate
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Duck confit, a French dish made with a whole duck, can easily be made with reheated canned canard. These tinned fowls can be purchased online or from French or gourmet food stores.

11. ALLIGATOR MEAT

Prepared reptile meat
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Alligator meat is consumed, cooked, and processed in southern states like Louisiana, but home chefs outside the Bayou can order canned alligator meat online.

12. TAMALES

Tamales on a plate with salsa
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Traditional tamales can be time-consuming to prepare, so manufacturers like Hormel Foods Corporation offer canned versions in chili sauce for lovers of Latin food who don't have six or so hours to assemble their dinner.

13. TARANTULA

Fried tarantula on a plate
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Adventurous foodies who like their meals on the wild side can order canned tarantula online from sellers like Thailand Unique. The fearsome spiders are considered a delicacy in countries like Cambodia, where they're eaten freshly fried from the wok.

14. SILKWORM PUPAE

Canned silkworm pupae
Will Luo, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

Canned silkworm pupae is available in Asian specialty food stores, and is a popular snack in countries like Korea. Prepare it by first boiling and washing it, and then frying it with seasoning.

15. QUAIL EGGS

Quail eggs
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Quail eggs taste similar to chicken eggs, but are smaller, speckled, and have a larger yolk. They can be found at specialty or Asian grocery stores or ordered online, and can be boiled for bite-sized snacks or added as a garnish or topping to any food you typically prefer with a touch of egg.

The Most Popular Christmas Cookie in Each State

Jen Tepp/iStock via Getty Images
Jen Tepp/iStock via Getty Images

While opinions about peppermint bark, reindeer corn, and other Christmas candies are important enough to warrant a map of their own, we all know that the real crown jewel of any kitchen counter during the holidays is an enormous platter of homemade cookies.

In a festive endeavor to guess which type of cookie is most likely to be on your counter this Christmas, General Mills collected search data from BettyCrocker.com, Pillsbury.com, and Tablespoon.com, and created a map that shows which recipes are clicked most often in each state.

Those universally adored Hershey Kiss-topped peanut butter cookies, known on Betty Crocker’s website as Classic Peanut Butter Blossoms, took the top spot in seven states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Kentucky, Nevada, South Carolina, and Wyoming. And people don’t just love peanut butter in blossom form—Easy Peanut Butter Cookie Cups, Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cookies, and 2-Ingredient PB-Chocolate Truffles also made appearances on the list.

general mills christmas cookies map
General Mills

Peanut butter treats are definitely a popular choice among holiday bakers in general, and cookie decorators are likely responsible for the prevalence of plain old sugar cookies across the nation. Sugar Cookie Cutouts, Easy Spritz Cookies, and Easy Italian Christmas Cookies all offer a deliciously blank slate for your artistic aspirations.

Apart from peanut butter- and plain sugar-based desserts, the rest of the results were pretty scattered. Iowa most often opts for the figure eight-shaped Swedish Kringla, while Michigan loves a good jam-filled Polish Kolaczki. Surprisingly, Hawaii was the only state to choose gingerbread cookies as their seasonal favorite.

If you’re thinking classic chocolate chip cookies are suspiciously absent from this map altogether, you have great dessert-related detective skills: General Mills decided to omit them from the study, since they’re Betty Crocker’s most-searched cookie recipe all year long, and they would’ve dominated in a staggering 22 states.

Whether you’re looking for a new show-stopping cookie recipe or just wondering how your long-standing family traditions compare to others’, you can read more on the study—and see all the recipes in full—here.

[h/t General Mills]

Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?

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iStock

Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

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