Before I begin listing our favorite canned fruits, I want to let you know that whenever possible, we purchase fruit that has no added sugar. When that’s not possible, we try to purchase fruits that are canned in fruit juice or light syrup. If you’re interested in learning more about the nutritional value of canned fruits, check out our post “The Truth about Canned Fruits and Vegetables.”
Canned fruit is a versatile pantry ingredient. Whether store bought or home canned, it’s a great way to add fruit to your diet when it’s not in season. It can be eaten straight from the can, or you can transform it into desserts, add it to salads, or stir it into various entrees. Here’s the list of our seven favorite canned fruits.
1. Apple Sauce
My mother always served apple sauce any time we had pork for dinner. It wasn’t uncommon for apple sauce to appear on the breakfast table, too. Apple sauce makes a great pie filling, and there’s even a recipe where biscuits are baked on top of a skillet full of sweetened apple sauce. My children love applesauce as a snack, and I love to have it with some cottage cheese with my lunch. Applesauce is a very versatile and healthy fruit product to keep in your pantry, especially if you select unsweetened apple sauce with no added sugar. My mother made homemade apple sauce and canned it every year. One year, she experimented and made an apple sauce from raw apples that she froze. It was delicious.
It’s simple to make your own cranberry sauce, but I like to have a few cans of whole berry cranberry sauce on hand. It’s great to add to savory dishes like our three ingredient party meatballs. It’s also great stirred into gelatin desserts. It’s also a great ingredient in dessert type salads like Cran-Raspberry gelatin salad or Cranberry Apple Gelatin Salad. Food Critic prefers jellied cranberry sauce, but I prefer the stuff with the berries still in it. We always have a couple of cans on hand.
3. Fruit Cocktail
Whenever I think of fruit cocktail, I think of red jello with fruit cocktail in it. That was something my mom made often when I was growing up, but fruit cocktail has many other uses. It’s a great ingredient for fruit salad, and it even makes a good cobbler. We also love to have it with some cottage cheese, or serve it with some graham crackers. Fruit cocktail isn’t a glamorous pantry staple, but it’s still a good thing to have on hand.
4. Mandarin Oranges
When I was a child, I despised mandarin oranges. I’m not sure when my opinion changed, but as an adult, I use them often in a variety of different ways. Mandarin oranges are great to eat out of the can as a snack or a side dish. They’re delicious in Chinese Chicken Salad, and I love to use them in Five Cup Salad which is a holiday staple in our house. I’ve even used them to make Orange Fluff or Lemon Gelatin Fruit Salad, which are both great dessert style salads.
Almost everyone I know loves canned peaches. Peaches are one of the fruits that my mother always canned. Before we had producing peach trees on our property, we would travel to a peach farm where we could buy multiple cases of peaches. They were sweet, juicy and perfectly ripe. I remember the juice running down my arm as I ate one from the crate before we loaded back into the car to head back home. I can peaches when I am able to get a decent supply of fresh ones, but if that’s not possible, I purchase cans, or jars, of peaches to fill my pantry. Canned peaches are very versatile. They’re great served with cottage cheese, and they make a great cobbler. They’re also delicious transformed into a crisp. Canned peaches can also be used to make Peachy Pork Chops Or Peachy Chicken. It’s amazing what a little sweetness can do for a piece of meat.
I have fond memories of my mother transforming pear halves into bunnies as a salad one Easter. I also have memories of pears being suspended in green gelatin. Canned pears are one of Food Critic’s favorite fruits. He loves them straight out of the can, and he can eat an entire fifteen ounce can as a snack. In addition to the recipes I’ve mentioned above, canned pears can be used to make a cobbler, a crisp, or even a tart.
Canned pineapple is Bus Boy’s favorite canned fruit. Like his brother is with pears, Bus Boy can eat an entire can of pineapple chunks or slices as a snack or a side dish with a meal. We only purchase pineapple canned in its own juices. Canned pineapple comes in many different forms and I buy all of them because each has it’s own unique applications.
Crushed pineapple is so very versatile, and a great thing to add to a variety of desserts. It’s an ingredient in our recipes for Pineapple Lime Fluff, Vegan Pineapple Coconut Cobbler and in Watergate Salad. It’s also delicious in a Pineapple Lush and a two ingredient pineapple cake. I probably use more cans of crushed pineapple than all of the other types of pineapple combined.
I like to use these in salads where you want the texture of the pineapple, but don’t want large chunks. This is an ingredient in our Lemon Gelatin Fruit Salad.
These are great to use on kabobs or add to stir fry dishes to add a little sweetness. They’re a great addition to sweet and sour, too.
Who else thinks of a pineapple upside down cake whenever they see a can of pineapple slices? I know that I can’t be the only one. Canned pineapple slices made annual appearances on our Easter Ham along with whole cloves, and they were added to dishes of fruit flavored gelatin, too. One of my favorite childhood memories was of my mom using canned pineapple, and a banana to make a fun dessert for us one night. It was unique, an edible candle, and I still remember it.
We occasionally buy other canned fruit.
The fruits listed above are the ones that we keep in our pantry most of the time, but occasionally, we purchase a few different cans of fruit. Those fruits are:
Blackberries or Black Raspberries
The use of these are something left over from my childhood. Because black raspberries weren’t available in California, my mother would buy several cases when we visited family back east. She would transform these into cobblers or pies. Because I still live somewhere that I can’t buy or grow black raspberries, I tend to use blackberries instead, but I only purchase them occasionally.
I buy cherries canned in light syrup, but not because I like to eat them from the can. Canned cherries make a great cobbler. Thicken them with some corn starch, or tapioca, and they make a great pie filling or ice cream topping. Plus, canned cherries that I thicken myself, are much cheaper than a similar size of canned cherry pie filling. You know I love to save money whenever I can. Speaking of which…
Don’t throw away the juice from the canned fruit.
The juice from canned fruits can be used in a variety of different ways, so don’t throw them away. They can be used to sweeten, and flavor, iced tea, or the juice can be transformed into tapioca. “Recycling” the juice from canned fruit is a great way to squeeze something extra from your food budget.
That’s our list of our favorite canned fruits. These are the ones that we always like to keep on hand. What do you think of our list? Is your favorite canned fruit on the list? Is there something we missed? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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