27 Unusual Canned Foods You Might Actually Want to Eat

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pile of cans of conserved food
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WORLD'S FARE

There's a whole world beyond canned corn and tuna fish. Canned versions of unique domestic products and exotic ingredients from other cultures can also be enjoyed at affordable prices. These 25 canned specialty foods offer a taste of that global menu — and they have the added benefit of an extended shelf life.

Goya Cuitlacoche/Corn Mushroom
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CUITLACOCHE

A prized delicacy in Mexican cuisine, kernels of corn affected by a particular fungus take on a mushroomy flavor and add complexity to dishes like quesadillas. A little goes a long way with this specialty ingredient, also known as huitlacoche.

Roland Whole Lychees in Heavy Syrup
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

LYCHEE

If not for canned lychees, many Americans would never taste this sweet and aromatic fruit. Soft and fragrant, lychees are commonly used in cocktails and other drinks, and to flavor fruit-based desserts.

Ashoka Lotus Root
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LOTUS ROOT

This vegetable is a staple in Asian cuisines. The nutritious slices of lotus root have a fun shape and add fiber-filled bulk to dishes like curries and soups. The canned varieties are easy to find in Asian supermarkets or the ethnic aisles of some supermarkets.

Goya Guava Paste
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GUAVA

Guava is a sweet fruit that is popular all over the world. It's typically mixed into candies or made into a paste to accompany cheese. All-purpose canned guava paste can be eaten as is or used in many recipes.

Roland Whole Baby Conch
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CONCH

Conchs are sea snails that live inside those big horn-like shells in the ocean. They have a mild flavor and a pleasantly chewy texture. They are typically fried in breaded pieces or stewed in Caribbean curries.

B&M Raisin Brown Bread
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BROWN BREAD

This dark and slightly sweet bread hails from New England but has roots in Ireland and England. The bread is steamed right in the can for an authentic flavor. Pair it with baked beans for a cheap and traditional Boston meal.

Roland Giant Escargots Snails
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SNAILS

Snails, or escargot, are a fancy and generally pricey dish when prepared the traditional French way with garlic, herbs, and plenty of butter. This delicacy can easily be found online and in specialty stores for a fraction of the prices at restaurants — some of which use the canned variety anyway.

WSU Wazzu Creamery Cougar Gold Cheddar
Photo credit: Courtesy of creamery.wsu.edu

CHEESE

Forget Cheez Whiz. Canned cheese isn't limited to cheese-like products sprayed onto crackers. Fine aged cheeses are also available. Washington State University's line of canned cheeses offers a variety of flavors from classic aged cheddar to dill garlic and chili-infused versions for less than $1 an ounce.

Iberia Squid in Ink Sauce
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SQUID

Canned squid comes from all over the globe, including the United States and Europe. This popular seafood is generally sold in its natural ink, which is considered a delicacy in its own right.

Reese Hearts of Palm
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HEARTS OF PALM

These tender shoots come from the inner layer of palm trees and are almost always sold in canned form. They are mildly earthy and generally packed in a subtly savory brine. They add texture and flavor to salads and stuffings.

Oregon Fruit Gooseberries
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GOOSEBERRIES

These specialty fruits are not easy to find fresh, so most people have never tasted a gooseberry. It has a zippy flavor that is bright and uniquely fruity. The more common dried versions have a different more-concentrated flavor while the canned variety offers a fresher flavor.

Whole Piquillo Peppers
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PIQUILLO PEPPERS

These peppers are native to Spain and often stuffed with tuna or goat cheese. Their rich flavor earns them a place as a star ingredient in tapas dishes, especially when paired with wine.

Roland Foods White Asparagus
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WHITE ASPARAGUS

A German specialty food, fresh white asparagus begins to appear in early spring and figures in traditional dishes throughout the country. Cooks can use canned white asparagus and successfully get the delicate and mildly earthy flavor of the fresh version in dishes like white asparagus soup.

Lucky Leaf Premium Strawberry Rhubarb Fruit Filling & Topping
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RHUBARB

This vegetable is a popular ingredient for preserves, baked goods, and pie fillings, but it has a short season. The long pink stalks are actually quite astringent and need a considerable amount of sugar to make them tasty. Canned varieties come cooked and slightly sweetened for easy use.

Roland Golden Berries
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GOLDEN BERRIES

Practically unknown in the United States, these berries are native to South America. Considered a superfood by many, golden berries are touted for their vitamins and minerals as well as what they can do for skin and even asthma.

Haomama Braised Eel
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EEL

Eel is commonly used in sushi and other rice dishes. Braised eel usually has a sweet and savory sauce that is deep and flavorful. A good source of protein, canned eel makes a healthy snack or a convenient filling for homemade sushi.

Roland Chanterelles
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CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS

Chanterelles are considered high-end mushrooms, and they can be scarce and expensive in their fresh form. Preserved mushrooms hold their flavor well, which makes the canned variety a valuable low-cost option for anyone who is mad about mushrooms.

Cod Liver In Own Oil
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COD LIVER

While not the most appetizing sounding, cod liver is well liked for its nutritional makeup, offering a lot of omega-3s. The pungent flavor of cod liver in its own oil makes this unique canned seafood well-suited for mixing into dressings or pastas to add extra layers of umami.
Urbani Truffles Thrills, White Truffles and Mushrooms
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TRUFFLES

Truffles are technically a fungus found close to certain trees in very particular areas, most notably in Piedmont, Italy. They offer a heady mushroom-like perfume to any dish and usually cost a lot of money. Canned versions offer a lot of the same flavor at a much more affordable price.
Meyenberg Evaporated Goat Milk
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GOAT MILK

Goat milk is naturally lower in lactose than cow's milk, which may make it easier for some people to digest. One popular use of goat milk is to cook it down into cajeta, a sweet caramel sauce used for desserts. Canned versions work well for that since their flavor will be concentrated and virtually the same as using fresh milk.
Princes Ox Tongue
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OX TONGUE

Tongue was once a popular everyday meat thanks to its tender texture and cost effectiveness. Outside of traditional ethnic preparations, it has largely lost its popularity. Going for a canned version, rather than fresh, adds an extra element of convenience to the whole business of eating tongue.
Duck Foie Gras Bloc De Foie Gras De Canard
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FOIE GRAS

Fatty duck liver, or foie gras, is a delicacy in Europe, often enjoyed with sweet wine or a sweet fruit accompaniment. The intense richness makes it an indulgent part of any meal.
Canned Seafood Wa Tai Canned Abalone
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ABALONE

Considered a delicacy, abalone is a shellfish, often referred to as a sea snail. The tender texture and distinct seafood flavor make them a favorite among those who generally enjoy other shellfish. They can be difficult to find fresh, so these canned varieties may be your best bet to try them out.
Rougie Moulard Duck Leg Confit
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DUCK CONFIT

Generally associated with fancy French restaurants, duck confit is an indulgent, rich preparation of duck meat that is cooked in its own fat. This canned version offers a convenient way to get a sophisticated dinner on the table quickly by skipping the lengthy process of preparing the confit. Since the texture will be soft without any crispy parts, it would be best used as an addition to beans, rice, or fillings rather than as a stand alone ingredient.
Roland Canned Quail Eggs
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QUAIL EGGS

Quail eggs offer a similar nutritional profile as chicken eggs in a slightly smaller package. These hard-cooked eggs are ready to eat straight from the can as they are, or to chop into egg salad or to add protein to any number of dishes for a somewhat exotic twist.
Bar Harbor Maine Lobster Meat
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LOBSTER MEAT

Lobster is generally eaten fresh, but there are plenty of delicious uses for canned lobster meat. Tossing this can of crustacean meat into a batch of mac and cheese, a baked spinach dip, or cooking it up as a pan-fried patty are some ways to get the most out of this canned delicacy.
Sweet Sue Canned Whole Chicken
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WHOLE CHICKEN

Chicken comes in many surprising forms, but a canned whole chicken is a particularly odd version of this commonplace poultry. While it may not be the first thing that pops into the mind for dinner, it could come in handy as a pantry staple during storms or other situations where fresh food is limited.

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