117 Practical + Creative Ways to Use Up Home-Canned Food

Inside: How to use up home-canned foods like fruits, jams, and pickles in creative ways. You worked hard for those! Use ’em up.

.If your pantry is overflowing with jars of fruits, vegetables, sauces, and more, it’s time to get creative in the kitchen. This guide will help you transform your homemade canned foods into amazing meals and snacks, preventing waste and adding a touch of from-scratch goodness to everything you make.

Multiple jars of sealed tomato soup concentrate, indicating the completion of the canning process.

Using Up Canned Tomatoes

Tomato Paste

  • Thickening Agent: Add depth and body to stews, soups, and chilis.
  • Sauce Base: Start your own marinara or pizza sauce by sautéing paste with aromatics (onion, garlic, herbs).
  • Flavor Booster: Stir into meatloaf, meatballs, or pasta filling for a richer tomato taste.

Whole Canned Tomatoes

  • Slow-Cooked Sauces: Simmer with herbs for a classic Italian marinara – perfect for lasagna or hearty pasta bakes.
  • Chunky Stews and Braises: Tomatoes will break down, creating a rich base.
  • Hand-Crushed Options: Control the texture in soups or sauces where you want a mix of chunks and smoothness.

Crushed Tomatoes

  • Ready-Made Sauce Base: Perfect for quick pasta sauces. Sauté onions and garlic, then add crushed tomatoes and your favorite herbs.
  • Soups with Some Texture: Great for minestrone or tomato-based vegetable soups where you want tomato chunks.
  • Casseroles and Chili: Blend in seamlessly with other ingredients.

Tomato Sauce

  • Pasta’s Best Friend: A simple classic – heat and serve! Consider adding fresh herbs or a swirl of cream.
  • Pizza Base: Spread directly on the dough.
  • “Cheater” Marinara: Boost flavor with garlic, onions, and Italian herbs.

Diced Tomatoes

  • Chunky Toppings: Perfect for tacos, baked fish, or bruschetta.
  • Quick Salsa Base: Add onions, cilantro, lime juice, and your favorite hot peppers.
  • Salads and Grain Bowls: Use fire-roasted diced tomatoes for a smoky flavor enhancement.

Uses for Pickled Vegetables

Any pickled item will do well on a platter with olives, cheeses, and crackers for a simple snack board.

Pickled Cucumbers (Dill Pickles, Bread & Butter, etc.)

  • Potato Salad Upgrade: Dice and add them for a tangy crunch.
  • Deviled Eggs: Finely chop pickles for a zesty addition to the filling.
  • Relish Substitute: Use them instead of sweet relish in tuna or chicken salad.
  • Fried Pickles: Slice thicker pickles, batter, and fry for an indulgent appetizer.

Pickled Beets

  • Salad Star: Slice or dice them to add vibrant color and earthy sweetness to salads.
  • Borscht Base: Use the pickling brine to bring tang to this classic soup.
  • Hummus Twist: Blend a small amount into hummus for an unexpected flavor dimension.
  • Goat Cheese Pairing: The sweet-tartness complements creamy goat cheese beautifully.

Pickled Okra

  • Bloody Mary Garnish: A classic addition to this savory cocktail.
  • Fried Okra Upgrade: Toss with the batter for extra crunch and a pop of flavor.
  • Pasta Salad Ingredient: Adds a unique texture to cold pasta salads.
  • Add to Gumbo: The pickled okra and brine add depth to this Louisiana classic.

Pickled Asparagus

  • Charcuterie Boards: A fancy and flavorful addition alongside meats, cheeses, and crackers.
  • Salad Topper: Cut into bite-sized pieces to toss into green or grain salads.
  • Pasta Primavera Addition: Add with other spring vegetables for a fresh twist.
  • Wrap It Up: Include pickled asparagus spears in veggie wraps or roll-up sandwiches.

How to Use Berry Jams and Preserves

While jams and preserves have some differences, you can generally use them interchangeably in many of these recipes, based on your preference for texture.

Raspberry Jam/Preserves

  • Classic PB&J Upgrade: Take your sandwich game to the next level!
  • Thumbprint Cookies: Bake those nostalgic treats with sweet little pools of raspberry goodness.
  • Glazes for Meats: Whisk with vinegar and Dijon for a sweet-tart glaze on chicken or pork.
  • Flavored Yogurt or Oatmeal: Stir in for a breakfast or snack boost.

Strawberry Jam/Preserves

  • Shortcake Filling: Layer between fluffy biscuits and whipped cream for a summery dessert.
  • Cheesecake Swirl: Fold into cheesecake batter before baking.
  • Ice Cream Topper: Drizzle over vanilla for a simple, satisfying treat.
  • Cocktail Mixer: Muddle with mint leaves and rum for a mojito twist.

Blueberry Jam/Preserves

  • Pancake or Waffle Wonder: The perfect fruity complement to breakfast classics.
  • Muffin Mix-In: Add bursts of blueberry flavor throughout your muffins.
  • Savory Sauce: Simmer with balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and black pepper for a unique sauce to serve with duck or pork.
  • Oatmeal Upgrade: Stir in for a warm and flavorful breakfast.

Blackberry Jam / Preserves

  • Barbecue Sauce Base: Combine with ketchup, spices, and molasses for a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce.
  • Cake Filling: Sandwich a layer between cake rounds for a fruity surprise.
  • Bramble Cocktail: Shake with gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup for a refreshing drink.
  • Grilled Cheese Partner: Pair with brie or goat cheese for a gourmet twist.

Other Fruit Butters, Jams & Preserves (Apple, Peach, Pear & Plum)

General Sweet Applications:

  • Toast, Bagels, or Biscuits: A simple yet satisfying way to enjoy these spreads.
  • Ice Cream Topping: Warm up some butter or jam for a delightful drizzle.
  • Yogurt or Oatmeal Swirl: Add a touch of sweetness and flavor to your breakfast.
  • Baked Goods: Use as fillings for thumbprint cookies, turnovers, or cake layers.

Specific Flavor Pairings:

  • Apple Butter: Pairs beautifully with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Consider it for spiced baked goods, glazes for pork or chicken, or as a cheeseboard accompaniment.
  • Peach Jam / Preserves: Use in cobblers, muffins, or as a sweet addition to BBQ sauces. Complements rich cheeses like brie on a charcuterie board.
  • Pear Preserves: Delicious swirled into yogurt, oatmeal, or baked into pastries. Pairs well with cheeses like goat cheese or blue cheese.
  • Plum Butter / Jam: Mix into savory sauces for meats, add a layer to cakes, or spread on toast with cream cheese for a decadent treat.

Savory Ideas:

  • Glazes for Meat: Whisk with vinegar or soy sauce for a sweet and tangy glaze on roasted chicken, pork, or even salmon.
  • Sandwich Spreads: Add a touch of sweetness to grilled cheese or turkey sandwiches.
  • Salad Dressings: Blend into vinaigrettes for a subtle fruity touch.
  • Cheeseboard Accompaniments: Pair with sharp or creamy cheeses, crackers, and nuts.

Don’t forget

People are often happy to receive jam as a gift.

Using Plain Canned Veggies

Canned vegetables can be bland, so don’t be afraid to punch up the flavor with herbs, spices, and aromatics (onions, garlic, etc.)

Canned Corn

  • Soups and Chowders: A quick way to add sweetness and texture.
  • Casseroles: Combine with tuna, noodles, and cheese for a pantry-friendly bake.
  • Cornbread Mix-in: Elevate your cornbread with extra kernels.
  • Salsa and Dips: Add sweetness and a pop of color to your favorite recipes.

Canned Green Beans

  • Sautéed Side Dish: Dress them up with garlic, butter, and a squeeze of lemon.
  • Casseroles: Classic green bean casserole is always a crowd-pleaser, but they work in any baked dish where you want to add a vegetable.
  • Salads: Add to pasta salads, potato salads, or other cold salads for extra fiber.
  • Soups: Toss them in chicken noodle soup or hearty vegetable soups.

Canned Potatoes

  • Hash Browns: A shortcut for crispy hash browns for breakfast.
  • Potato Salad: Combine with mayo, mustard, and your favorite herbs.
  • Soups and Stews: Add diced potatoes for easy heartiness.
  • Mashed Potatoes Upgrade: Combine with fresh potatoes for quick and creamy mashed potatoes.

Canned Carrots

  • Mashed Carrots: Create a simple side dish by mashing with butter, a touch of honey, and spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.
  • Glazed Carrots: Simmer with brown sugar, butter, and a bit of orange zest for a sweet-savory side.
  • Carrot Cake: Add to your favorite carrot cake recipe for extra moisture and sweetness.
  • Soups and Stews: Enhance the heartiness of your favorite beef stew or pot roast.

Canned Peas

  • Pasta Primavera: Sauté with other spring vegetables like asparagus, zucchini, and fresh herbs, then toss with pasta.
  • Pot Pies: Include in chicken pot pies or a vegetarian alternative.
  • Kid-Friendly Side Dish: Heat and stir with butter and cheese.
  • Hummus Upgrade: Blend a small amount into hummus for a vibrant color and flavor boost.

How to Use Canned Meats

Canned Chicken

  • Chicken Salad: The classic! Combine with mayo, celery, onion, and your favorite herbs and spices.
  • Casseroles: Perfect for creamy chicken and rice bakes or chicken pot pie.
  • Quick Tacos or Quesadillas: Shred and sauté with your favorite Mexican seasonings.
  • Soups and Stews: Add shredded chicken for a hearty protein boost.
  • Pasta Add-In: Toss into pasta dishes for a simple and satisfying meal.

Canned Tuna

  • Tuna Salad: Mix with mayo, relish, and celery for a lunchtime staple.
  • Tuna Noodle Casserole: The ultimate comfort food, made extra easy.
  • Tuna Melts: A satisfying open-faced sandwich with melted cheese.
  • Pasta Primavera: Add a touch of protein to a springtime veggie-filled pasta dish.
  • Tuna Patties: Mix with breadcrumbs and spices for a twist on crab cakes.

Canned Beef

  • Beef Stew: A shortcut for tender, flavorful stews that normally simmer for hours.
  • Shepherd’s Pie Topping: Swap ground beef for a convenient alternative in this classic dish.
  • Sloppy Joes: Create this messy favorite with ease.
  • Hash: Combine with potatoes and onions for a hearty breakfast.
  • Tacos or Enchiladas: Add Mexican seasoning for quick and easy fillings.

Other Canned Meats

  • Canned Ham: Great in casseroles, soups, frittatas, or cut into cubes for salads.
  • Canned Spam: Fry for sandwiches, dice into stir-fries, or add to fried rice.
  • Canned Corned Beef: Make a homemade reuben sandwich or hash.

How to Use Pie Filling

You might need to thicken canned pie fillings slightly before using them in some ways.

2 jars of pie filling in mason jars.

Apple Pie Filling

  • Turnovers and Hand Pies: Use filling in premade pie dough or puff pastry for smaller treats.
  • Crumbles and Crisps: Top the filling with a buttery oat crumble for a warm dessert.
  • Breakfast Treats: Swirl into your favorite muffin or bread batter.
  • Apple Dumplings: Wrap slices of apples in dough and bake in a cinnamon-infused syrup (you can use the filling for the syrup too!).

Peach Pie Filling

  • Peach Cobbler: A simple, rustic favorite – just top with biscuit dough and bake.
  • Parfait Layers: Alternate with whipped cream and crumbled cookies for a no-bake treat.
  • Ice Cream Topping: Warm peach filling over vanilla ice cream is heavenly.
  • Grilled Desserts: Fill peaches halves with the filling and grill for a caramelized finish.

Cherry Pie Filling

  • Cherry Hand Pies: Similar to apple turnovers, but with a luscious cherry center.
  • Cake or Cupcake Filling: Bake a surprise layer of cherry filling inside cakes.
  • Coffee Cake Swirl: Mix cherry filling into the batter for your favorite coffee cake.
  • Cheesecake Topping: A dollop of cherry filling complements creamy cheesecake perfectly.

Blueberry Pie Filling

  • Breakfast Staple: Top pancakes, waffles, or overnight oats.
  • Fruit Sauces: Simmer with a touch of lemon zest for a sauce to drizzle over meats like duck or pork.
  • Yogurt and Smoothie Bowls: Add a pretty layer of blueberries to breakfast bowls.
  • Ice Cream Mix-In: Create your own blueberry swirl ice cream.

What to Do with Canned Salsa and Chutney

Canned Salsas

  • The Obvious: Chips and dip! Elevate store-bought tortilla chips with your gourmet creations.
  • Taco and Burrito Topping: Add freshness and spice to your favorite Mexican dishes.
  • Baked Fish: Use salsa as a flavorful sauce to bake fish like cod or tilapia.
  • Egg Scrambles or Omelets: Spice up your eggs with a spoonful or two.
  • “Lazy” Enchiladas: Layer corn tortillas with salsa, chicken, and cheese for a quick casserole version.

Canned Chutneys

  • Cheese Plate MVP: Chutneys pair beautifully with a variety of cheeses, from aged cheddar to soft brie.
  • Grilled Meats Partner: Serve alongside grilled chicken, pork, or even fish for a sweet-savory flavor boost.
  • Sandwich Spread: Instead of your usual mustard or mayo, add a layer of chutney.
  • Curry Base: Chutneys add instant complexity and depth to curries and other Indian-inspired dishes.
  • Unique Salad Dressing: Whisk a spoonful into a basic vinaigrette for a flavorful twist.

Using Canned Beans

Canned Bean Basics

  • Vegetarian Protein Powerhouse: Use them to create countless meatless meals.
  • Salads and Grain Bowls: Add beans for a boost of protein and fiber in your favorite salads or bowls.
  • Soups and Stews: A pantry staple for hearty and flavorful soups on a whim.
  • Burgers & Veggie Patties: Mash and mix beans with spices and breadcrumbs for tasty vegetarian alternatives.
  • Dips and Spreads: Create flavorful hummus-like dips using your favorite beans.

Specific Bean Suggestions

  • Black Beans: Perfect for black bean soup, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and rice dishes.
  • Pinto Beans: Ideal for refried beans, chili, quesadillas, and Southwestern-inspired salads.
  • Chickpeas: The star of hummus, roasted for snacks, and a key ingredient in Mediterranean salads.
  • Cannellini Beans: Enhance minestrone soup, blend into creamy white bean dips, or toss into salads.
  • Kidney Beans: A classic chili ingredient, and great in bean salads with bold flavors.

Remember, don’t be afraid to experiment! Swap out ingredients, add a sprinkle of your favorite spices, and try new flavor combinations. Embrace the joy of home canning, knowing that with a well-stocked pantry, you can whip up a flavorful meal anytime.

sliced canned pears in mason jars.
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