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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.

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How to Choose the Best Watermelon
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Buying a watermelon is an experience one can grow to resent. The 92 percent moisture content of Citrullus lanatus means you're basically buying a giant ball of water. On the plus side, they're delicious and packed with enough vitamin C and D to keep you from getting scurvy.

But how to select the best of the batch? Food blogger Emma Christensen over at kitchn recently offered some advice, and it involves a little weight-training. When you examine watermelons in the produce section of your local grocery, you want to look for the heaviest one for its size. The denser the fruit, the more juice it has. That's when it's at its most ripe.

Next, check the underside of the watermelon for the "splotch." That's the yellow patch the watermelon develops by resting on the ground. If it's a creamy yellow, it's also a good indicator of being ripe.

Finally, give the underside a little smack—not aggressive enough to draw attention from grocery workers, but enough so that you can determine whether the watermelon sounds hollow. If it does, that's good. If it sounds dull, like you're hitting a solid brick of material, it's overripe; put the watermelon down and slowly back away from it.

If you're not confident in your watermelon evaluation abilities, there's another option: Local farmers markets typically have only choice product available, so any watermelon you pick up is likely to be a winner. You can also ask the merchant to pick one out for you. Pay attention to what he's doing and then try to emulate it the next time you're forced to choose your own produce.

[h/t: kitchn]

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine
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by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of vino. Here, the author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma spills some of the best.

1. DIGITAL EYES ARE EVERYWHERE IN VINEYARDS.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like an army base—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. At $68,000 a pop, the Scancopter 450 is about twice as costly as a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon!

2. THERE ARE ALSO LOTS OF COW SKULLS.

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. FEROCIOUS FOLIAGE IS A VINTNER’S FRIEND.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. WHAT A CANARY IS TO A COAL MINE, ROSES ARE TO A VINEYARD.

Vintners plant roses among their vines because they get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. VINTNERS EXPLOIT THE FOOD CHAIN.

A trio of wines
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Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. THE BIG PROBLEMS IN TASTING ROOMS ARE VERY SMALL.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bugeating predators make for terrific fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. WINE NEEDS CLEANING.

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. ATOMS HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. FINE WINES GET MRIs.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. Not planning any $20,000 wine purchases? This is still good news for the consumer. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. THERE’S A TRICK TO AGING YOUR WINE.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

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