A Love Letter to Canned Food

Ingredients like canned artichokes, pumpkin, chickpeas and coconut milk can turn a weeknight meal into a semi-homemade form of art.

Comments: 238

  1. The misinformed rap on canned food is, in no small part, a function of my generation (b.1952). We got it wrong for good reasons, but we got it wrong all the same. Americans love to stick everything from peaches to tomatoes (!) in the refrigerator without ever considering how much nutritional value and flavor they are losing by doing that. Freeze it (quickly), or eat it. Good canned vegetables, which these days have very little salt and no junk, are in many cases more flavorful and almost always superior nutritionally to that "fresh" spinach in cellophane that's been in your refrigerator for three days -- and who knows what its journey has been to get to your store. If you don't like the taste, then fine--don't eat it. But otherwise canned (and some frozen) vegetables offer true value that is often irrationally overlooked. Do you know how and with what the Libby's or Del Monte spinach was grown? No, but then you don't know that if you buy same from the local vegetable stand or supermarket. Eight months of the year most of us can't buy vegetables fresh (two weeks on the truck from California isn't fresh). Being able to can something is a boon to the food consumer; Grandma out on the ranch always knew that.

  2. @gking01... I can only disagree... canned food which has possibly been on the shelf for six months in never nutritionally superior to fresh food.

  3. @TOBY Canned spinach which has been on the shelf for two years is better -- nutritionally -- from what you get at the produce section of your local supermarket. It's vacuumed-locked when it is canned, usually within hours of harvesting. You need to understand what that means. I suspect you don't.

  4. @TOBY: Once canned, the contents don't degrade nutritionally, because they are sterile and oxygen-free, and all enzymes have been destroyed - though there may be a concern about metal or BPA leaching from the can lining if the contents are acidic. When a US scientific team reached the South Pole in the 1950s, they came across a cache of canned food that Amundsen, whose Norwegian team was the first to reach the South Pole in 1912, had left for Robert F. Scot's rival British team (who all perished on the return journey, mainly due to Scott's naïveté and inexperience - Amundsen had correctly suspected the worst). The cans' contents were still perfectly edible half-a-century later.

  5. I agree on the sublimeness of canned artichokes as long as they are in water. Other beloved canned ingredients: black olives, green chilis, tomatoes and refried beans. in a jar I require pimentos and salted dry beef. Add cream cheese and boom! I am also an alumnus of "English peas" but we more likely had the store brand than the real thing. And don't forget the freestanding meal of canned Campbell' s chicken noodle...salt lovers dream!

  6. @ Janlee Bryan texas My wife loves canned beans, and I like Progresso New England clam chowder. But, as a whole, canned foods remind of hoarding and emergency supplies in times of war or other disasters.

  7. I just wish articles like this weren't so condescending. Why does nostalgia for recipes past have to include disdain for those who aren't 'ingredient-obsessed'? I wish this article was a joyous celebration of all the food we eat and not a thinly veiled swipe at the Mrs. Rubys of the world who were just doing the best they could whether they thought they were 'great' or not.

  8. @Casey Huling Take a deep breath and read the article to the end. On the way, you will pass paragraphs including this: "The best canned foods transcend their fresh counterparts to become something completely different — and often superior. And when used with love and care, canned foods can turn the monotony of weeknight cooking into a semi-homemade form of art." That it is indeed a "celebration of all the food we eat."

  9. @Casey Huling I wish she had included the recipe for Mrs. Ruby's artichoke dip! :)

  10. @Casey Huling- Agree! Thank you.

  11. Not everyone has the budget to shop at farmer's markets once or more times a week. Not everyone has the budget to purchase luxury items like canned baby eels or $25 tins of anchovies or canned smoked mussels. I think a lot of folks do their very best with the limited money they have to purchase and prepare the most nutritious meals they can make which feed their entire family with hopefully leftovers for tomorrow. Canned foods may not always be the ideal, but they do serve an important function and frankly, I think a lot of families would be a lot hungrier if not for canned tomatoes, peas, corn, black beans, or kidney beans, just for starters, that graced their pantries. I think most things in life need balance and moderation. And that's how I view buying canned food - on many levels, certain canned foods helps the means justify the end. In the winter months, nothing screams comfort quite like my chili made with ingredients which include canned black beans, kidney beans and two jars of salsa for spark and sass.

  12. @Marge Keller Amen. I love homemade soups and stews, it’s my favorite thing to cook. But sometimes, I’m in a hurry or even, gasp, sick, especially in Winter. There’s nothing wrong with good quality canned soups, and some brands/varieties are very tasty. Cheers.

  13. @Marge Keller Agreed. The rap against any and all canned foods is irrational.

  14. @Marge Keller But people actually eat eels. Nah. Can't be true. What on earth would they do that for? Mussels? Anchovies? You know times have changed in so many ways, especially in foods. No reason to eat eels or mussels or clams or oysters anymore. Disgusting. We did use canned salmon to make Baked Salmon Loaf, two tall cans with a side of baked macaroni and cheese.

  15. Fresh is best. Frozen is usually a step down from fresh. Canned is usually a step down from frozen. If all you have on hand—or can get—are frozen or canned foods, it is nevertheless possible to create an entirely satisfactory, perhaps even outstanding, meal. Then there is Spam, which only comes in canned form, and is not usually featured on the menus of starred restaurants.

  16. @Mon Ray No, but it is featured in the Aloha Kitchen cookbook by Alana Kyser. Spam is well known in the Pacific because it transports easily. A former colleague who grew up on Guam said their Christmas dinners always centered on canned ham.

  17. @Mon Ray Say and write what you want about Spam, but that canned mystery food fed a ton of soldiers in WWII and there's even a Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota.

  18. @Mon Ray My father's stint in the Navy during WWII left him with a yen for spam. My Mom would make it sometimes for our big Sunday morning breakfasts. She never made it after he died.

  19. I love this article. I am not ashamed to have canned food in my pantry!

  20. I love this article too! My favorite side dish from cans: 2-bean salad with chick peas, red kidney beans and a vinaigrette dressing of fresh dill or parsley and red onion

  21. @Anne. That salad sounds amazing!

  22. I'm also a fan of the can. I do prefer the frozen artichoke hearts to the canned and they are always in the freezer, but ALL the beans, tomatoes, pumpkin, salmon (the wild caught one from Costco is delicious) and milk (evaporations and sweetened condensed) are always in my pantry.

  23. Anchovies from tins are always in my pantry. The three common brands I buy (flat) Virgo, Season and Cento. Not a fan of the anchovies in the small glass jars. The rolled one from tins , if I buy them, I skewer on a tooth pick and pair with a stuffed green olive and a piece of good feta cheese.

  24. @ Jay Amberg Neptune, N.J. Reading over the divers preferences of the readers for canned foods, there may be one more to add: inherent natural laziness. It takes less effort to consume or covert into edible form something canned than fresh.

  25. @Tuvw Xyz Rather than labeling users of canned food with the pejorative "lazy," how about realistically thinking of them as "time-deficient"? I have the luxury of having my office in my home -- next to the kitchen, even -- and so can put up a pot of beans at any time, have it simmering as I work, and ready in time for dinner. But not everyone is so lucky: many people must commute for hours and need those beans as soon as they get home. They may have myriad reasons for not using a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or Instant Pot. Don't say they are morally defective if they open a can. (In my mind, the only way they might be wrong would be if they fail to drain and rinse the beans before use, to remove the excess salt.)

  26. @Suzanne Fass Upper Upper Manhattan My apologies, I was generalizing from my own laziness to others.

  27. Mrs. Ruby reminds me of my 93 year old aunt, who my family and I would spend a good chunk of the summers with. It was kind of like living with someone in assisted living — where the person in assisted living does all the work. Her arthritis got so bad that she'd use SOS pads to clean the tea stains out of the coffee mugs, but she could twirl a 50 year old butterfly can opener around like nothing. I finally figured it out. (There's no blade to rust up and stay stuck forever.) My big new thrill is organic lentils with the pull tab lid — not great tasting but handy. And I prefer artichoke jars (with little red chilies and not too herby).

  28. As an elderly woman whose health is poor, I would be lost without canned foods of various types. In the winter, I open cans of big white beans, add a few cans of tomatoes and throw in any leftover bits of the grocery store roast chicken left in the refrigerator. It makes a delicious hearty soup I can eat on for days. The rest of the year, I have black beans and rice at least once a week - sometimes twice. I love it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar over it, and a bit of diced avocado sprinkled with lime juice. I serve it with a lightly toasted flour tortilla on which I can put some of this delicious mixture. Five minutes, start to finish, if using frozen rice (which I do!). And utterly delicious. As for pumpkin, I cannot imagine any pumpkin pie on earth any better than the one made from the recipe on Libby's canned pumpkin. I still eat canned soup sometimes, as well. I'm particularly fond of Amy's Split Pea soup and Campbell's Tomato Bisque. Hard to beat on a cold winter's night!

  29. @India I simply love your comment! I know more folks who live and cook in a similar vane like yours than not. I read a review one time that compared canned pumpkin to pumpkin that was freshly cooked and the experts (famous chefs no less) could discern NO difference between the two. Ever since then, I'm strictly a canned pumpkin gal myself. If it was good enough for "Bow Tie", it's good enough for me. Thank you for sharing such a lovely and beautiful post! It continues to warm my heart as I re-read it.

  30. @India What a lovely addition to this thread! Thank you, and enjoy. I’d never thought of balsamic on beans and rice...

  31. @ India Your comment is wonderful and points out how some creativity can result in healthy and tasty meals. Kudos to you for taking the time to create healthy meals and not rely upon the abundant, processed, cheap and unhealthy carbohydrates available across our grocery stores and restaurants.

  32. Le Seur peas and canned asparagus were the only vegetables my Dad would eat. I thought everybody ate that way, from a can until I went to a friend's house for dinner and was introduced to homegrown in the backyard garden. I enjoyed that immensely. However like Ms. Raij, nothing like eating those mushy, sugary watery peas from a can, especially when they bring back childhood memories.

  33. 2 - 28 oz cans imported San Marzano tomatoes, which I crush by hand, to make Ina Garten's "Weeknight Bolognese." Case closed.

  34. @CS Spaghetti bolognese does not exist, according to the mayor of Bologna, Italy. Although the dish is supposed to hail from the city, the mayor says this is in fact "fake news." The meat-based sauce Italians actually eat is called ragù and is rarely served with spaghetti.

  35. Here in south Florida, all those miles from fresh Jersey tomatoes, there is no better choice to include in salsa than diced canned tomatoes.

  36. @bradnew5 Jersey tomatoes ain't what they used to be.

  37. @Ellen F. Dobson sadly true.

  38. Always have several cans of Goya garbanzos on hand. Add to cole orzo salad, quinoa salad, soups, or make hummus.

  39. Creamed corn! Don't know how you could make it from scratch. Cream corn and onions on mashed potatoes is a favorite side dish.

  40. @Rich It's almost impossible! First you have to cut the kernels off the cob. With a knife! And then--you have to melt butter in a pan and add the corn. And mix it around. Now comes the really hard part...adding heavy cream. Even the most accomplished chefs have to work years to perfect this dish.

  41. @bobg Good attempt at snark, but misguided. What you describe won't taste the same as the creamed corn in a can, which fyi contains no cream. It does, however, contain a variety of cornstarch not available in supermarkets. So it really is almost impossible to make at home and have come out with the same flavor and texture -- which those of us who grew up on it love.

  42. @Suzanne Fass, I have found, to my sorrow, that the taste of creamed corn varies by brand. I don't remember the kind my mother used to buy, and I have been unable to find a brand that tastes "right."

  43. Enh, not really down with canned pumpkin of pulses when they're so easy - and much cheaper and healthier - to do the non-canned versions - fresh or dried. I make Boston baked beans all the time and it's really not that much of a strain to let them soak overnight. And fresh over roasted pumpkin? Fughedaboutit!

  44. For those who can’t tolerate tomatoes, canned pumpkin purée and a bit of tamarind paste works as a substitute, especially for Indian stews / curries...

  45. My favorite hack: 1 can chickpeas. 1 jar hot salsa. Instant Pot. If you have the chana masala spice box, it helps, but can be done without. Side of frozen naan (which freezes pretty well). Done.

  46. @memsomerville. How long in instant pot?

  47. Canned baked beans. Jazz them up as you like

  48. The author built up the Cheesy artichoke dip the entire time, now I want to make it but she didn't include the recipe! Any ideas where I can find it?

  49. @Robert Daniels there are a ton online but the easiest is one can artichokes in water, drained well and chopped, one cup mayo, and one cup grated Parmesan. Put in baking dish and bake at 375 until warm and bubbly. You can add garlic, spinach, different cheeses etc but that is the base.

  50. @Robert Daniels I was hoping for the recipe too!

  51. Yes Melissa Clark, please post the recipe for Mrs Ruby's Artichoke Dip!

  52. I think it is really lousy to have links to recipes in the article, and then when people click on the link, they are told they need to subscribe to NYT Cooking.

  53. @A Mann I agree. Though I can well afford to purchase the option I refuse to upgrade because I think it is almost a bit disingenuous to tantalizingly and often mouthwateringly lead us through the article only to have us click on a recipe link and hope they've decided to grace us all with a free recipe. How do they decide which ones to offer? I've recently accessed recipes only to go back and have access to the same recipe denied. I don't know the metric they use so why would I pay for it? These recipes are great but are by no means gospel. I often don't bother with the links anymore. More and more I try to find similar recipes elsewhere online then improvise to my taste. It would be better to just offer the entire food section articles along with their accompanying links for one premium. This way there is no guessing game, and no disappointment. But good to see other lovers of fried Spam. My affection is for fried Spam in a freshly homemade hot-off-the-comal flour tortilla.

  54. @FRITZ. No guessing game. Subscribe! $5 a month is pennies a day. Well worth it and you have all the control over the content you see.

  55. @A Mann Yup. Very sleazy IMHO. Previously, NYT subscribers had unlimited access to NYT Recipes, and could save them to virtual 'recipe boxes' within their own NYT accounts. So I had recipe boxes with 'desserts', another with 'hors d'oeuvres', etc. And then suddenly, one day, about 20% of all the recipes I'd previously saved were 'greyed out', and no longer accessible without my paying an extra monthly fee. I don't think so.

  56. I cook all my meals from scratch with all natural ingredients, however all natural, organic diced tomatoes, chick peas, tuna are a must to keep on hand. I keep tuna in the fridge, so I can whip up a tuna salad in a minute.

  57. I was raised on Underwood Deviled Ham, Spam, and canned green beans, do I eat them all the time now? no, but every once and a while when I can use those foods to time travel with. My mother who as from Nicaragua always had canned milk in the house,(just in case) and I do love it in my coffee now and then. All these canned foods served well here in Florida especially during storm season as we found out with Irma. Chickpeas, tomatoes, and artichoke heats area a stale in my pantry as well. Thanks Melissa for a great article.

  58. Thanks, Melissa, for a description of fried Spam that perfectly matches my remembrance of it. Our family only ate it on our camping trips out West, where we brought most of our own food along with us, because food was expensive around National Parks. Friends are shocked that I ever ate Spam, so I can now use your words to try to explain its allure (although I haven't eaten it for decades, at this point).

  59. @Carol - Aloha! You should taste the new Spam flavors - easily available here in Honolulu. Jalapeno, teriyaki, chorizo, mezclita, turkey (!) and yes, low sodium. Wonderful stuff. I used cans of the stuff as the centerpiece for my Christmas tree last year, and then for the party, we ate all the different varieties. Mmmmmm, Spam musubi!

  60. @Carol. Fried spam on Girl Scout hikes. Yum! We carried all supplies in “ Sit Upons”. Large Charles Chips cans (empty), customized/covered on the sides and lids with the desired contact paper. Holes drilled into the sides . Sturdy twine to carry the whole dang thing on your hike. Ergonomic nightmare for girls. Boys got the backpacks. But I digress. Fried spam at end journey was heaven. Seated on ...you guessed it. Sit Upons.

  61. Fresh coconut milk sure is a pain to extract, but the taste really beats the canned version, especially in recipes that don't boil/bake it to death.

  62. Growing up it early 50's canned veggies were almost a mainstay unless it was summertime and you could get some local farm stand veggies and melons. My mother emigrated from Nova Scotia and I remember going to my grandmothers in Cape Breton many summers growing up at that time. Most of the year was canned everything at my grandmothers but summertime was different. Her back yard was a cornucopia of fruits and veggies. I became quite the expert on growing carrots, radishes and beets. Beets still a fav fresh or canned. My cousins and I would be handed small pails, given pats on the backs of our heads and sent out for blueberries(ground preferred), wild strawberries, raspberries and or wild rhubarb. Her pies were magnificent! Secret for perfect crust?LARD! Canned foods were a necessity in areas of the world were electricity was/is unavailable for refrigeration. I retired from the imported food business, primarily imported cheeses. Our company had received USDA license for Australian Cheddar. I received a call from a man, who was originally from India, who had a chain of Indian-Asian markets in California. He was interested in buying substantial amounts of canned Australian Cheddar. At first I thought canned cheddar, what!?But then found out that if fact canned cheddar was an old mainstay item in Indian- Asian markets that lacked refrigeration. Oh ok. The cans had twist off key tops like corned beef from South America. We had already sold our quota but interesting factoid.

  63. The only problem here is that most canned foods have a high sodium content -- salty salty salty.

  64. There are more low salt canned food these days, even some no salt beans.

  65. @Raindrop And, like in the case of beans, if there is no salt-free or low sodium, one can rinse them off. I have done that with great success. I am super salt sensitive, so I do this quite frequently.

  66. @Rinwood Rinse the contents. Won't take away all of the sodium but it helps a lot.

  67. The illustration's got me wondering what dish she's planning to make with the two opened cans... pumpkin and sardines. Yecchhh!

  68. I grew up in the 60s in a blue collar family. I have horrid memories of canned foods that were positively revolting: B&M Brown Bread (yes, you read that right.... bread.... IN A CAN) Deviled Ham (for sandwiches). DIS-gusting. 'Fruit' cocktail. Blech. canned peas...more like an olive green than a 'green' And so on.

  69. @Lisa that brown bread was great !! 'specially the dark bottom

  70. @thostageo Brown bread toasted -- yummy with baked beans and franks. Love it!!

  71. @Lisa Brown bread and cream cheese. Yum! Love homemade but it's a lot of work.

  72. One of my favorite meals is a can of tuna, a can of white beans, a can of artichoke hearts, chopped garlic, toss in some sun dried tomatoes, and maybe some capers, heavy on the olive oil, toss with pasta, top with Parmesan.

  73. @Ingrid Spangler Reminds me a bit of a tuna pasta recipe I use but I sub the tuna with canned smoked salmon from American Tuna (well worth it). Add some capers, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh garlic, capers, and salt & pepper (the saltiness of the canned salmon dissipates throughtout the dish so a bit of extra salt is needed). Toss together with cooked linguine or fettuccine and add some halved cherry tomatoes and parsley or cilantro. No need to cook the salmon (or tuna) mixture, just let the the flavors meld a bit while the pasta cooks. A very quick and elegant meal you could easily serve to guests.

  74. @Ingrid Spangler I've just sent this recipe to my son who has just gone away to college. Thank you!

  75. My grandmother always made her mashed potatoes with a can of evaporated milk. That’s how my family still prefers their mashed potatoes. Buying a can of beets is so much easier than roasting them myself. Raised on canned green beans. I’ll never eat them again!

  76. @JS I was raised on a backwater Southern farm that had cows. But many of my less fortunate neighbors did not. In every home evaporated milk was the 'cream' in their coffee and made rich milk gravy for sausage biscuits and wonderful puddings. Evaporated milk was far cheaper and more frequently used than today.

  77. Thank you. I've several recipes from my mother (and my childhood) that are absolutely delicious-full of canned soups and abominations. When I serve them, I'm always asked for the recipes-everyone loves them. I have cut the amount of salt which was horrendous (or eliminated it entirely), but otherwise serve them up "as is." As far as I know, no one has died.

  78. Canned soups can be a quick basis for a semi-home made version. I do it with chicken noodle soup although other canned soups can also be treated this way: drain the liquid from the can and add some water. Add some chopped scallion, parsley, carrot, and celery and cook until tender. Then add the can contents to the pot stir to mix and heat. You can add more noodles to the basic mix, if you like. Because the ingredients you add along with the water, are salt free, the salt content of the soup is diluted to half. Takes just about 20 minutes. Another favorite is tomato soup made from canned tomatoes. Just puree in the blender, add liquid to thin to your liking, onion, greens or other savories and heat. Top with some cheese and enjoy. Use canned clams to make a clam chowder, canned tuna for fishcakes, and enjoy your pantry shelf goodies.

  79. Thank you. We live in a culture that, for some reason, has decided that pretty much all preserved food is icky and shameful unless it is "exotic." If it's exotic and has to be bought at a specialty store, suddenly it's a gourmet miracle. (rolls eyes...) If "exotic" canned foods, preserved pickles, jarred condiments, and so on are a treasure trove to cook with, I suspect wisdom and creativity could find gourmet uses even for the humble canned pea or spinach--or for ketchup. Or soup. Or any of a lot of other brilliant preserved foods. I once tried to explain to my daughter why my own grandmothers' generation was so thrilled to adopted canned foods, convenience foods, and jarred condiments. Getting it through her head that all in all most men and women considered a fair-to-brilliant can, jar, or bottle of something to be sheer genius when it would take them hours of gardening, preparing, canning, and storing from scratch. This is NOT different from anyone from another culture having their own cans, bottles, and jars full of handy foods and food-enhancers. Fresh is often better--but sometimes it's no substitute for the transformed canned, preserved option. Sometimes a can of mushroom soup or a jug of ketchup is just the right answer. The shame is in shaming a genius who knows when and how to use what they have to hand.

  80. @Peg How true! Jacques Pepin calls ketchup his secret weapon.

  81. @Mary From Terry My late mother had a funny saying. No ugly building can't be made beautiful covered in Kudzu, and only sweets can't be made better with Ketchup.

  82. Thanks for the idea with the vegetable chili. Unglamorous as it may be, I always look for easy healthy food that lasts for 2 days or so.

  83. While I appreciate and even love some canned foods, coconut milk is definitely not one of them. Once you start making your own from scratch, which is really not that hard or time consuming to do, you will never go back to that awful, chemically-stabilized goo in a can.

  84. @Keef In cucamonga I am sure it is delicious. But it is so involved and that's the beauty of the canned coconut milk (and other canned foods), you can have a delicious meal without making a huge production. Also, not everyone has access to decent fresh coconuts.

  85. @Keef In cucamonga. Great tip if you live along the equator. The coconuts in the US are not very good. Better to get good quality canned coconut milk that was extracted from a fresh coconut.

  86. Great summer treat: Asparagus from a can that has been chilled in the fridge.

  87. @ AHP Washington, DC Is it better than parboiled, and then chilled, asparagus? I suppose that with either one it can be debated, whether it should be taken with the fingers and dipped in melted butter, or sliced with a knife and pieces impaled on the tines of a fork, a very Non-U English style.

  88. @Tuvw Xyz I think canned vegetables (except corn) taste so different from fresh, that they qualify as another food. Canned corn is quite good, better than frozen, not as good as fresh. I'll have to try the asparagus in the fridge sometime

  89. @AHP When I was a child I adored canned asparagus. My mother bought it for me as a special treat. I haven't had it as an adult. Perhaps I should try it again.

  90. Mark Bittman commented on multiple occasions about the very high quality canned foods in Spain. Even some of the best tapas bars, like Quimet y Quimet, use them.

  91. @Gene You don't have to go to Spain. If you're not fussy about organic, Libby's, Del Monte, and Green Giant produce some good canned vegetables. I know: I'm picky and I've eaten those brands for years.

  92. One of my favorite meals using canned food is linguine and clam sauce. Not only is it easy, quick it is inexpensive and delicious. Besides the chickpeas and black peas mentioned in the article, I keep cannelini beans on hand. Great article!

  93. I want the old recipe for artichoke dip with canned fried onions please!

  94. My dear father, a child of the depression, would seek out sale canned food in bulk. We even had a dedicated cabinet in the basement for them. We ate well and had money for vacations. In college I discovered frozen vegetables! Then I discovered fresh vegetables! Now I prowl farmers markets, but remember fondly that cabinet in the basement. Besides, scrambled eggs and Spam rule!

  95. Thanks for this article. While I usually cook with fresh ingredients, I always have canned foods in the pantry. Grill canned pineapple slices for tacos or ham, make a hearty chili with canned beans and tomatoes, green bean casserole with canned beans, pimiento, cream of chicken and mushroom soups and French's fried onions, make succotash with lima beans, corn and stewed tomatoes served over rice, quick salsa with canned tomatoes and pickled jalapenos, dress up canned baked beans with bacon, onions, peppers, molasses and brown sugar. The list is endless and the convenience is a lifesaver for working people and for when the electricity goes out and I don't want to open the frig or freezer. Progresso makes some good canned soups, and I'd be lost without an occasional tuna melt sandwich for lunch. I'm with the folks who don't like deviled ham, but I have had a decent hot sandwich made with toasted bread, mustard, cheddar and deviled ham.

  96. Two words. Smoked oysters.

  97. I always bought fresh food from the market until I was converted by something Nicolle Wallace said on Deadline White House. She confessed she has many items delivered to her front door in bulk because she's often too exhausted to shop for toilet paper, shampoo & soap. I began doing this when I learned Walmart - where I'd never shopped - would deliver to my door. I eventually noticed Walmart also delivers groceries - which were considerably cheaper than my local grocery stores. I bought some canned goods as emergency provisions. A month later a storm knocked out heat & power to my new apartment for 5 freezing cold icy January days. My crabby old Abyssinian cat & I survived in my large walk-in closet with a sleeping bag, radio & lantern (all purchased from Walmart). The two of us happily dined on Progresso Lentil Soup, Goya Chick Peas, Starkist Tuna, Amy's Chili, Bumble Bee Salmon, Bush's Steakhouse Baked Beans, Skippy Peanut Butter & canned mandarin oranges. My Hotspurr especially loved the lentil soup. I now keep several weeks worth of canned goods on hand & often use them to make Italian & Mexican Instant Pot recipes. The canned goods are saving me quite a bit of $$$. Don't make 'perfect' the enemy of good. And many of the Progresso Soups & Amy's Chili are quite good.

  98. @fast/furious Make sure there aren't any onions in the canned food you serve your cat.

  99. @fast/furious watch out for salt intake. Lots of salt make these foods delicious.

  100. I am delighted to know that I'm not the only Times reader who shares a household with a bean-loving cat!

  101. This reminds me of "The I Hate to Cook Book," by Peg Bracken. I use food from cans (and pouches) to improve the flavor and consistency of bland staples.

  102. I used to make a wonderful beef stew with everything out of cans except the beef chunks. Brown the beef. Open the cans, drain well and throw into crock pot. Steel cans recycle beautifully too.

  103. Do you add water or beef broth to your fifteen minute stew?

  104. I will chime in here. During a stay in May one year in Las Vegas, I tried a Vietnamese Iced Coffee. I found out that sweetened condensed milk was the magic in it. It was wonderful! And, canned tuna in water is always in our refrigerator .

  105. Tinned corned beef, with its magical key to peel away the lid, mixed with potatoes mashed with lots of butter, was always a welcome dish for me as a young 'un in London in the 1960s. It was wonderful, sweet, salty, meaty, tender... it's been a few decades but I may have to mix up a pot, and soon.

  106. Half a can of Campbell's Chunky Chicken and Sausage Gumbo with onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes and you have a feast!

  107. Have a co-worker who raves about my beans - they are good but nothing special and mostly from cans: Bush's pinto beans, Ro-Tel (original), small can of Hunt's tomato sauce - mix together with as much browned ground meat as you want (seasoned with Lawry's seasoning salt and partially drained of fat), and then add a healthy dose of Penzey's Bold Taco Seasoning. They freeze well, they're good on tostadas, as a side, etc. But ALL from cans except for the meat. I don't rinse or drain the beans - it all goes in. I remember walking home from a grocery store decades ago. An older man asked if I wasn't afraid of having my grocery bags stolen. I said they'd need a can opener. His response - oh, you're one of those MODERN cooks. I still laugh.

  108. Goya Chick Peas are the best canned chick pea beans. I flunk at cooking dried beans but have found that the Goya beans have so much more flavor than other canned beans.

  109. My go to Mediterranean recipe (from my mother) is canned Progresso cannelini beans, mixed with lots of good olive oil, chopped onions, a ton of chopped parsely, and fresh lemon. Salt and pepper. Easy peasy and even better the next day.

  110. @daf Progresso is good but I prefer S&W white beans. A can (or two) is always in my pantry.

  111. @daf - Any can that says Progresso on it is welcome in my home. I have one can of Progresso Organic Lentil Soup on the shelf that I'm saving for some late night munchie.

  112. I remember fondly the whole canned chicken in gelatin my family would take on camping trips. Throw some canned potato, carrots and peas in with the chicken in a big pot, over a cook fire … serve with bread ... the best !

  113. My aunt always kept one under the sink, in case company came.

  114. Macaroni from a box, tuna from a can and Le Suer tiny peas from a can. A total feast.

  115. @Richard - I'm guilty of making off-brand mac and cheese with tuna and canned peas. Its a welcome relief to all of my organic gourmet cooking using items I grew myself. Sometimes, I just want a dinner that will be ready in 8 minutes. Frozen pizzas take 20.

  116. @Richard Could you share the recipe? Thanks

  117. Several points 1) I use canned foods when the alternative is either not available or the canned food is actually better. 2) To this day I still can't taste a canned pea as a result of my early years of having 1950s ideas of food. 3) I made sure to the extent possible not to buy canned products from China and a few other places. In the article photo canned clams are mostly, but not all are from China at least in average supermarket stores.

  118. I was disappointed that there was no hat tip to Sandra Lee - who coined the phrase semi-homemade for the Food Network.

  119. And the toxic chemical BPA in the lining of all the cans? Sigh. These days, there's always something.

  120. I use canned Crushed Tomatoes all the time in my vegetarian cooking. And only Crushed variety - why? All others have Calcium Chloride to firm up the tomatoes! That makes them rock hard even after cooking. My advice - read the ingredients - if it has Calcium Chloride all contents will be hard - that goes for all kinds of beans as well.

  121. @Jaque Thank you for educating me. I always wondered why Goya's black beans had virtually no additives and yet the pinto beans had things I didn't understand. Now I know. Calcium Chloride (among other things). Learn something new every day (if you start out dumb enough).

  122. Pineapple juice as we know it, would not exist without canning. One of the “delicacies” of British food, often an accompaniment to fish & chips (particularly in the North of England, is “Mushy Peas,” for which canning creates the food. Many other items require it - and note the canning process is important. Foods prepared with modern, agitating retorts, while closer to fresh, are very different from those produced in static retorts (technically overlooked, but often rich in flavors).

  123. Thank you for this article extolling the benefits of canned food. I suspect a lot of our bias against canned food comes from generational snobbishness. My Grandparents' generation, most of whom lived to a ripe old age, thrived on canned food when they were growing up. Then, about mid-20th century, frozen and later fresh ingredients became all the rage. Now, obviously fresh fruits and veggies often offer distinct flavor and texture compared to most of their canned counterparts. But the luxury of constantly having "fresh" ingredients at one's disposal also attained a certain cache to it. Canned foods were old fashioned, a relic of the depression. Fresh foods delivered to your door were the future. However, we pay quite a price for having "fresh" fruits and veggies available on demand in the dead of winter. California, in particular, expends incredible amounts of often scarce, potable water to make this possible. Canning offers a safe and convenient method for collecting foods from where they can be grown in season and with the least expenditure of scarce resources, and then storing them until they are needed.

  124. @TGF Your grandparents didn't like in the chemicalized, polluted world of today. Further, were their foods canned in cans or bottled in jars? There is a difference--no BPA or PVC. And today, those chemicals on top of all the other chemicals that collect in our bodies. The average person has 100 to 200 foreign chemicals in his or her body according to a study done by Mount Sinai School of Medicine. You grandparents were subject to far lesson these chemicals and also were not subjected to the industrialised diet. Fresh foods have enzymes. Steamed vegetables have enzymes. Enzymes and vitamins are very important to our metabolism and our health.

  125. Our great grandparents ( my grandparents) in addition to home- and commercially canned food had WW II ‘victory gardens.’ Delicious tomatoes and nearly any vegetable. So good.

  126. Did they ever fix the problem of the can liners leaching something into the food that encouraged obesity? Canned tomato products especially, so I read.

  127. It must be Fall. We're talking about food preservation. A typical mammalian response. I personally prefer canned mushrooms in some dishes. My wife likes canned green beans in others. We use artichokes as the occasion requires. It all depends. I mostly think of canned goods as a camper rather than a cook though. What would make a good one-pot meal with minimal effort? Let me ask the same question a different way: How do you create a delicious meal with nothing but a sterno can and a P-51 can opener? Actually, the answer doesn't usually involve a can opener. However, the P-51 will make things cheaper. The equation is pretty simple: Base + Sauce + Substance. The base is usually something like pasta or rice. However, you can substitute something like granola. Granola + Honey + Fruit. The math still works. Add protein and healthy fat where you can and choose dehydrated foods wherever possible. Watch the salt content. You're good. Cashews and dried peas over instant rice with a dehydrated green curry sauce. Pita and dried sausage if you want it. There wasn't a can involved. You just need water and heat.

  128. @Andy--Tomato/bean based meatless chili or 15 bean soup. Can't beat them. Few tortillas or chips on the side, and you're good to go. Fruit for desert, and no cooking for the next 3 days.

  129. @Andy I love canned green beans! They're almost an entirely different food than fresh. Both delicious, both have their place!

  130. I'm a pensioner and one of my brothers started out in a car spray painting business when he was fifteen and he NEVER wore a mask or protective clothing and used to say to him you'll be dead by the time you're forty of cancer if you don't wear your mask and he just laughed and ignored. He'll be a pensioner soon and has never had any illnesses and I put it down to he loved eating cold baked beans out of tins and baked bean sandwiches. My mum used to cook nutritious home cooked meals but he preferred baked beans. These days with all the sprays around and how long fresh food stays in the supermarket, there's probably more nutrition in freshly canned baked beans than what you buy at the supermarket. Baked beans are cheap and nutritious as they are full of fibre and that stops men from getting colon cancer as apparently colon cancer is caused by lack of fibre in your diet. I don't add salt from a salt shaker to my food after having a heart scare and immediately changed to putting black pepper on all my cooked food. It took me about two weeks to get used to the taste, now I use it just like salt and it is good for the heart; not bad like salt. I couldn't get used to the ground salt that you buy at the supermarket so buy the CRACKED black pepper then put it in the blender and grind it up then put it back in it's tins and just fill the salt/pepper shaker up with it. I usually grind up two tins at a time and just put them back in the cupboard.

  131. @CK--We, vegetarians, eat beans, legumes, nuts everyday. Very good for us. Love 'em!

  132. I can't believe there was no mention of canned tomatoes!

  133. I really don't understand you people extolling the virtues of canned peas, spinach and green beans--why bother when frozen is so much better. Much less the canned stews and ultraprocessed meats. I guess exposure as a kid creates life long palates (I grew up on canned corned beef so I give that one a pass). My kids didn't grow up on alot of processed foods so most canned prepared foods are not appealing to them. But we definitely use healthier staples like beans, pumpkin, artichokes, tuna, salmon, sardines, oysters, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, tomatoes, coconut milk, etc. These things make it easier to put together meal and augment my mostly fresh ingredients.

  134. @Mrs B some people don't have access to proper freezers, and canned food can help with that. Not everyone lives in a typical home but still needs to eat.

  135. Jack Lean was just here repairing the roof, and he has brought this reader's kitchen to the delights of fried spam. His wife used to eat canned moose, but does not like fresh venison. A friend in the field of Public Health called and confirmed that frozen vegetables are nutritious, and to bin canned goods with deep dents (there is also a deterioration apparently of aluminum before the expiration date, and more research might be needed). Glad to see that my favorite 'brand' of the above is on display. In the meantime, she was enjoying a scrumptious fresh salad on her lunch break, and we discussed the Napoleonic Wars on the office front. Citing Ms. Melissa Clark, 'A safe and convenient way to preserve and transport food, modern canning was invented in France in the early 19th century as a way to feed the troops during the Napoleonic wars', and while this rings true, the art of tinning was not yet perfected and there were cases of botulism. Napoleon is responsible for the invention of the 'Baguette', which his soldiers were able to transport easily in their uniform trouser-legs. Onto the grocery list go canned artichokes, while wondering about these 'eternal' lettuces in plastic containers in the fridge, which were noted by Mr. Otter, and deemed 'rabbit food'. Eat your carrots, I reminded him. Ever seen a rabbit wearing spectacles, Eh?

  136. It's fun to expand the repertoire with canned foods. I would love more recipes in the cooking section for canned sardines and other non-tuna canned fish. Thanks Melissa!

  137. When I was too cool for school and had all the time in the world (read: before kids), I wanted to be the purist cook. Wish: Soak my own beans; use fresh tomatoes for tomato sauce; make my own cranberry sauce from scratch. Reality: Oh wait, I forgot to soak the beans overnight; Gah! these tomatoes don't squish right; This cranberry sauce is too lumpy and I don't know how to fix it... Solution: Canned Goya beans; canned Cento whole peeled tomatoes; canned Ocean Spray Cranberry sauce. Realization: Not only is it more convenient to use canned foods, but the output is so much tastier! The Cranberry sauce was my biggest holdout, but was won over by my wife who loved it and reminded her so much of her childhood Thanksgivings. I am a canned food convert...

  138. Waste, waste, waste. There is no reason to use canned beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc. when you can buy in bulk (using a cloth tote) and cook them at home. It is cheaper and creates less waste. And before anyone decries how you can recycle the cans, two points: 1) you have to fully rinse the cans for them to be recycled, which is a waste of water and 2) the cans typically end up in landfill. This whole piece reeks of baby boomer nostalgia.

  139. @Left Coast there is a place for canned food in a home. No boomer nostalgia needed.

  140. Dear Judgy McJudgerson, You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, even if both are whole foods.

  141. One of the numerous issues with food culture in the US comes from this sick need to have access to anything at any time. Canned food is very symptomatic of it, cooking out-of-season ingredients. Nature provides enough at any time of the year and it is just right to cook only when it is in season. Americans just don't get it. Go back to basics with food, reasonable proportions, a little bit of everything even meat, natural ingredients, in season and nothing between meals. It is dead simple at this point, otherwise this society is committed to a collective suicide.

  142. @Xavier There's nothing to "go back to." We've collectively been preserving and eating out-of-season foods since the beginning of agricultural society. Curing, burying, pickling, fermenting... canning is just another method in a long line of them.

  143. @Xavier My parents canned vegetables from our garden and also made sauerkraut. My mother also made the best Chow Chow. Maybe it's you that doesn't get it. We ate vegetables all winter that were only available for a little while in summer.

  144. @Xavier - My grandpa had a farm in the midwest. The only thing "in season" on his farm in the dead of winter were the squirrels that kept getting into the chicken feed. How much lettuce or asparagus grows in New York in the dead of winter?

  145. This is the most fun thing I’ve read in a long time. Thank you.

  146. Although much of the recipes sound good, the amount of sodium in most of the ingredients is enough to choke a horse. I have a hard enough time finding low-sodium garbanzos to make hummus with - love the pre-made stuff but it sets my ears to ringing with the second bite! Have tried cooking my own chickpeas, but that is more effort than I want to put into it. Some canned goods I can find "unsalted", but yo have to know which store to go to. One local place finally started stocking house-brand canned tomatoes with no sodium added - only 58 cents per can. That's what I use when the garden section of the freezer runs out. Unfortunately too many other things have no substitute; those items I have to rinse thoroughly before using.

  147. @Chris I also have to limit my salt intake. However, I am finding more and more brands of canned goods that offer low or no sodium food. As the demand for low or no sodium in canned AND frozen foods gets stronger, I believe we will see even more brands changing.

  148. 365, the Whole Foods value brand, has plenty of unsalted beans, for less money than the salted variety. Unsalted chickpeas are 79 cents a can.

  149. @Sajwert. That’s our experience, too. Tell the manager of your local grocery that you want no salt/low salt products, your input makes a difference.

  150. Just a viewpoint from an expat living abroad: all canned condensed milk (or "leche condensado") and it's more concentrated child, "dulce de leche" is NOT the same, even among name brands. I can buy Nestle brand of both, but they are flavorless compared to their counterparts in the US. They're just "sweet", no intensity of flavor. No one seems to know why, but I've come to assume it's because of the quality and flavor/butterfat content of actual milk here. We were never subjected to many canned vegetables, primarily tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, kidney beans for chili, and cranberry sauce. Even in the 50s & 60s, it was fresh, dried, frozen or home-preserved, whether out of a family or neighbor's garden or store-bought. Le Sueur make me cringe at even the thought.

  151. Unfortunately, for people like me who suffer from hypertension and must maintain a low sodium diet, canned goods are almost entirely to be avoided. I miss the convenience and taste, but I will miss them for a lot longer than if I chose to continue to enjoy them. Sigh.

  152. A fun article. I also keep strategic canned goods for evenings when I've run out of time or have not been able to run to a store. So many comments here about the salt content in canned goods. This is true, but it is also true that virtually all the canned goods I buy have lower-salt and no-salt options available...I don't see the problem.

  153. Libby’s canned pumpkin is better than organic. It’s better than homemade. I’ve tried everything to avoid it but it’s simply the best!

  154. @BuffCrone Trader Joe's organic pumpkin is better. The canning process in general makes more sense than stewing a pumpkin.

  155. @Wordsworth from Wadsworth Halve a butternut squash, bake cut side down on a baking tray until you can pierce it easily with a knife. Use for pies, or soups, and freeze any extra.

  156. @BuffCrone Try home baked butternut squash for pies. Much better.

  157. Check out Jack Monroe's book Tin Can Cook: 75 Simple Store-cupboard Recipes<\itl>--a how-to for using canned ingredients to make meals that a bona fide foodie would find palatable and maybe even delicious.

  158. Can anyone recommend a brand of canned anchovies that are very good and good value? I find a lot in our supermarket to be both bad and bad.

  159. @Wordsworth from Wadsworth- King Oscar Anchovies, Flat Fillets In Olive Oil, 2 OZ (56g) Wild Caught www.kingoscar.com

  160. I love this article. We should be eating those things we enjoy, whether fancy or canned.

  161. NZ exports more than it imports and I never eat any fruit or other stuff from the USA because of chemicals used and would consider anything in cans imported from the USA that has an official 'ORGANIC' certification stamp on it. Your President is open to a 'free trade' deal with NZ as was reported back from a recent meeting between our PM and your President. The world wants more organically grown stuff and if you have all the correct certifications then your nation will get lots of export orders. NZ is GE free and that's why we get lots of export orders. In my supermarket there is a whole section dedicated to packaged food with 'organic' written' on it. TRENDING NOW - organic certifications on cans!

  162. @CK GE has been proven safe. Only flat earthers are against it and how it could help developing nations. You can get organic food if you want it anywhere in America.

  163. @Moira Rogow GE has NOT been proven safe! Depends on what genes have been spliced in--can be a trigger for allergies, can contain genes that cause the plant to make natural pesticides which can breach the gut barrier and are neurotoxins. Can make crops resistant to being sprayed with Round Up, and therefore contaminated with Round Up. Europe has rejected the USA's GE foods for people.

  164. One way the Soya Bean farmers could get over their cancelled soya bean orders, because of the Trump trade wars, would be to put the soya beans into cans and export them that way. Canned soya beans could also stay on the shelves longer and you don't need immediate orders when food is in cans; and it would be easier to export canned food than fresh food.

  165. Being vegan we rely on canned chickpeas, beans, coconut milk, jack fruit, artichokes, pumpkin, varieties of tomatoes that we haven't already home canned.

  166. Thank you for this nostalgic article. I want to eat Mrs. Ruby's artichoke dip.

  167. Love those Goya products. I use them almost everyday!

  168. The 99% know this - we’re thrifty with time and money. I welcome yummy recipes with ingredients from pantry. Would the author research that - 20 minute, yummy, pantry based dinners. Low cost. I’ve got one for you: Tuna Pasta. Canned tuna/oil ( trader joe); pitted olives/jar; pasta. Garlic, cherry tomatoes, lemon.

  169. @mk Since when are canned beans thrifty. They are spend-thrifty. And how much does America's health care bill cost every year? Dead food ain't good food. Canned food is completely overcooked.

  170. So, pre-cooked food, which is heavier than necessary and transported mostly by diesel trucks, not unlike bottled water, is a good thing? Along with the plastic-lined cans that leach BPA resins into the food? At a time when The Times is devoting so much copy to the environment and health, the Cooking section should aim to at least address the implications, beyond taste, of its recommendations.

  171. My Mother came to visit me in the US where I'd moved and turned her nose up at a recipe with 5 canned ingredients given to me that my kids had grown to love. It was shared along with the casserole after the birth of my fourth child, I remade it so many times for people at our school and church doubling it for our family that my kids dubbed it the 'Sick Americans dinner'.

  172. In the 70's, a friend moved to California. Upon learning she was from Minnesota some would ask if we ate all our vegetables from cans.

  173. What about baked beans Add some marmite and you have a delicious snack

  174. Great, but the metal from the can leaches into the food, and these toxins have been linked to Alzheimer’s.

  175. @RAB This myth has been dispelled for many years. From the Alzheimer's Association, "Myth 4: Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots and pans can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Reality: During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible suspect in Alzheimer’s. This suspicion led to concern about exposure to aluminum through everyday sources such as pots and pans, beverage cans, antacids and antiperspirants. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Experts today focus on other areas of research, and few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat."

  176. @David Most can liners still contain polyvinyl chlorides and some still contain bisphosphonates that were ubiquitous until recent pressure form health advocates decreased their use. Only Trader Joe's uses linings free of both these toxins. Read a recent NPR on-line report on the ongoing safety issue involved in can liners. Their reporting is more carefully done than Melissa Clarks.

  177. @RAB High levels of aluminium have been found in the brains of alzheimer's patients. Who knows if it is the aluminium, or the canned food which is devoid of enzymes or the over-cooked fats, or the chemically refined fats which lack antioxidants. But it is quite conceivable that eating canned food would contribute to Alzheimer's. Something is causing an epidemic of Alzheimer's. It may well be a combination of factors.

  178. Beets in a jar. One of the worst tastes on earth. Just thinking about it makes me gag a little. But there can never be enough cans of low-salt tuna, or Goya garbanzos. Better than almost anything, always in the house, totally satisfying. Thank you for this article and your attitude towards the ordinary/special. Delicious.

  179. @Michael c I am obsessed with the box of beets at Costco. It contains 3 vacuum-sealed bags of 4-5 large beets. They're peeled and cooked and ready to chop and put into recipes. It's cheaper than if I bought them raw, the washed and cooked them :D

  180. @Sean in NJ Beets are best grated raw or put in smoothies raw. Can be dressed with vinegar and olive oil or vinaigrette. Buying them the way you do, you miss out on the vital element-- enzymes.

  181. I like coconut cream, but coconut *milk* is pretty insubstantial.

  182. Starting 2008 I lost 50lbs eating canned, dried and frozen foods. My goal, apart from achieving a healthy weight, was minimum shopping minimum preparation minimum cleanup which over time translated into what I call my One-can, one-cup diet. That is, usually no measuring, just dump the ingredients together. I also think of it not as a diet, but as a way of eating for people who like to eat Standing at the sink Sitting in the car Lying down in bed (watching movies) I'm 75 now and have maintained my new weight range goal all this time. Nowadays I order online, drive to the Walmart, they load my car and I leave... healthy and happy and frugal diced spiced tomatoes for my chili 47 cents a can no sugar added fruit cocktail for easy faux pancakes $1.12 Take that, organ-o-philes! ...

  183. @ExitAisle Well, at least you include dried and frozen, so maybe you willet enough enzymes to not get cancer.

  184. Yes, oh yes! Immediately brought to mind the 2007 cookbook by Nancy Silverton, A Twist of the Wrist. My copy has 23 yellow post-it notes designating something delicious. If it's good enough for Nancy, it's good enough for me. Thanks a bunch.

  185. This excellent book came to mind right away!

  186. I love that cookbook! But it’s funny, Amazon has it catalogued as convenience cooking and the some of the reviews are terrible. My kid won’t eat sardines and that sort of thing. It’s really just pantry cooking for serious cooks. I always have tinned anchovies, sardines, tuna and mackerel on the shelf. Thanks to that book, I also always have a jar of white asparagus on hand to serve with poached eggs and browned butter. Great book!

  187. The greatest canned meat, in my opinion, is mackerel. I tried this on a whim years ago but am now a devoted fan. To those of you for whom sardines are too salty or fishy, try mackerel in olive oil. You won't regret it.

  188. Aahh, the Le Sueur peas! They always seemed so fancy with their silver paper and simple label, not to mention the French name. A quick glance at the foreign word on the label always registered in my kid brain as "leisure" peas, adding to their seeming decadence.

  189. I am nostalgic for canned peaches in heavy syrup, and for canned pears with cinnamon sprinkled on top, which were fixtures of my youth.

  190. @Thomas "Sugar shortens life." Dr.Majid Ali former Adjunct Professor of Pathology, Columbia University You know all the fuss about the gut microbiome? All the research from top universities in recent years, that that the microbes in the gut play an important role in many diseases? Guess what screws up your gut microbiome. Sugar. Sugar grows too much yeast (candida) in the gut. Candida in excess can even create leaky gut syndrome which has been implicated in obesity, heart disease and autoimmune diseases.

  191. Canned ravioli, eaten cold, straight out of the can. Delicious.

  192. I grew up on canned foods. We would eat it as is just heated or my Mom would turn it into a dish. More than a decade later, I lived with my old landlady who was in her 80s and her diet also included a LOT of canned foods, but she's the healthiest 80 something year old I've ever known in my life. She's still alive and well now, and still eating canned foods! With all the hype with healthy organic food, canned foods get a really bad rep, but they may not be as bad as people might think.

  193. So true.Canned vegetables have helped me moved to a mostly plant based diet.They take away the hassles with raw vegetables (peeling, conservation ...) that you face when trying a new diet .You can make healthy salads in 20minutes and they are cheaper alternative to farmer markets.The variety of them also allows to try vegetables that are usually difficult to get.Beans,mushrooms,cabbage,olives ... have now becomes staples on my diet thanks to canned food.

  194. @Petunia There are always people with rogue robust health who beat the average, but don't be fooled that the human metabolism doesn't need vitamins and enzymes to conduct its processes. Canned food is dead food. Microwaved food is dead food. Microwaves were (and perhaps are?) outlawed in Russia according to a Russian scientist I read. With good reason, they destroy the enzymatic quality of the food.

  195. @Aurelio Moreno At least try some frozen food, it is nutritionally superior. You cannot maintain life on dead food.

  196. Melissa, can you ask Mrs Ruby for her dip recipe? We need it!

  197. A can of peaches is to me an evening's welcome grocery. No muss, no fuss; just open and add some cream to make it grand. Pork and beans may sound mundane, but they beat a quiche lorraine when you're tired or too broke to eat out like the richer folk. A pantry full of cans is sweet (and don't forget the pickled beet!)

  198. @tim torkildson - canned peaches and granola (no milk) pass for a dessert when I run out of cakes and pies.

  199. @tim torkildson Really great. Thanks, Clever and true.

  200. Canned food typically contains BPA in its can liners. This is an endocrine disruptor and a plastic that is considered unsafe for nursing babies, so plastic bottles are now predominantly BPA free. Also, canned foods contain preservatives. It contributes to waste. If you shop in a market, take your own bag, and don't use plastic, your fresh vegetables, fruits and meats don't need the use of recycling bins. That an entire article is focusing on cooking with canned food is appalling. How about highlight Alice Waters and her famous restaurant for using only farmer's market produce, with the names of the farm's on her menu. The freshest and most nutrient filled food is exactly that. Fresh. Not in a can. buy seasonally, and you can enjoy the fruits, pun intended, of every season, or use your own glass jars to freeze or store fresh fruits and vegetables when they are out of season, unavailable fresh, or if you live in a cold climate where fresh produce locally is not available. Buy local. Shop local. The resources to produce a cheap canned product should give everyone cause. Those costs are passed onto consumers via the Farm Bill.

  201. @Mockingjay For those of us that get to frequent the Farmers Markets and hope that their unlabelled produce is actually what they claim it is - then 'yay' for us. For those members of the real world canned veggies and fruits are often the only affordable choice. All canned food sold meet real-life FDA/CDC limits and any leaching is below the level that provokes concerns - that being said - it has been lowered and is getting even lower every year - it is essentially ZERO when you buy appropriately labeled cans from major canners. I am casually amused that you think you know what exactly is in your farmers market treasures.

  202. @Mockingjay - "Buy local. Shop local." If I did that, I would have to give up California avocados, oranges, limes, and lemons. For some reason, those don't grow very well in Seattle. And I would have to give up curry since there are no locally grown coconuts at the Pike Place Market. Nothing but lots of tourists watching some guy throw a salmon around. But, they always have lots of California produce for sale at the Market.

  203. @Mockingjay Thank you!!! My sentiments exactly!!! Not to mention how much you pay for a small portion of beans in a can as opposed to cooking them fresh and freezing them in small portions for when you are in a hurry. The home cooked ones have so much better a texture too. Pressure cooking cooks beans quickly. Artichoke sare better steamed, and better for you as the enzymes are preserved.

  204. I know that science like mathematics has a liberal bias, but In 2019 Melissa Clark is promoting eating canned food? For the record: "The Center for Environmental Health says 40 percent of canned goods it tested contained BPA, a chemical linked to birth defects and cancer."

  205. @Son Of Liberty I should have added that: Center for Environmental Health. also found that 19 percent of cans used linings that contain PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, a form of plastic that has been linked to kidney and liver problems after long-term exposure.

  206. Some canned foods are better than others. Many have too much salt, or have weird textures from the canning process, but as a whole, in moderation canned foods are a convenient way to get a wholesome meal quickly. We prefer fresh and frozen foods, but I keep a supply of canned, especially for bad weather days that knock out the power to the freezer and we don't want to open it. And some, like canned pumpkin, are actually better tasting than fresh, not to mention a lot less work.

  207. I guess I'm not a food snob, because it never occurred to me to put canned beans, artichoke, pumpkin, sardines, and the like in the same category as cake mixes or neon mac 'n cheese. Sure, canned tuna and fresh tuna are not interchangeable. But calling something using canned tuna or canned artichoke hearts semi-homemade is really doing the dish a disservice. You can be a purist and spend the time prepping the artichokes yourself, or cooking down the pumpkin, or whatever. I'll happily go for the convenience and not feel a bit guilty about it.

  208. For my afternoon snack, I had canned tuna fish slathered with mayo from a 1 gallon plastic jar. I grew up with my grand parents and we lived on the veggies harvested from our garden. Canned tomatoes, corn, a combo of both we called succotash. The pickles both large dill and small sweet gherkins were fantastic. U do not have to worry about your canned veggies going bad. Yes I like fresh fish but the Buford Hwy farmers market is 25 miles away. While on a 18 month world tour, I stopped at Unawatuna Beach which is just south of the capital of Sri Lanka. There their restaurants are outside so the heat does not heat up the hotel. In Colonial VA, the kitchens were also outside for the same reason. When the food was brought inside for eating, the young slaves had to whistle so they could not eat the food. I was once driving across IN just east of the capital and there I saw large tractors pulling at least 8 wagons piled high with raw pumpkins. Yes I have made pumpkin and squash pie from scratch but a can opener gets almost the same results.

  209. Sometimes I go to foodbanks to augment retirement and I end up with some interesting items on the shelf. What does one do with a can of butternut squash soup and a bag of old brussel sprouts? Well, quarter the brussel sprouts and in a saucepan heat oil, garlic, Habanero peppers, onion and toss in the sprouts. Stir frequently until the sprouts start to look bright, shiny green, and are getting cooked a bit. Now, add a couple of large dollops of peanut butter, about a 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and maybe a tablespoon or two of fish sauce. Stir very quickly to coat everything with this melting peanut butter - soy sauce mixture. Last, add the butternut squash soup and heat through. And if you have it, who could resist tossing some fresh cilantro on top and a quick squirt of Sriracha sauce? What good are mashed potatoes without canned creamed corn on top? Or Cream of Mushroom soup "gravy"? Or one of my all time favorites - midwest pea salad made with onion, yellow mustard, mayonnaise (I'm fudging here, it should be Miracle Whip), and chopped boiled egg. Good eatin' !! We learn strange habits growing up. Grandpa, a corn farmer, taught me early in life that we don't eat yellow corn. That is for hogs. We only eat ears of Sweet White Gentleman. Mom served canned corn which I loved. To this day, I'm fine with canned yellow corn but laugh at people buying the ears of hog corn at the store:)

  210. @tom harrison Mashed potatoes with canned baby peas. Or canned spinach. These days, I twirl in fresh spinach in my mashed.

  211. @tom harrison Let your grandfather speak for himself. Sure, I like corn to be sweet like just-picked, but white corn is too much of a good thing, so sugary sweet that the flavor doesn't come through. Yellow or bicolor corn for me.

  212. A love letter to sodium.

  213. Thank you, Melissa Clark, for recognizing that not everyone has access to fresh foods. Believe it or not, across great swaths of urban landscapes in particular, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits are not the norm, are too expensive, are not readily available, or are simply not obtainable. Lots of elitists commenting here.

  214. @DMS Fresh foods are not obtainable in San Diego? Farmer's markets are often less expensive. One cannot create health on BPA contaminated canned foods. Canned salmon is pressure cooked for 2 hours. How many vitamins are left in a can of vegetables? Ditto enzymes. It would be better to eat less, and eat real food.

  215. @fragilewing good for you... some people are actually hungry, and will eat whatever is available to them. If canned fruits and vegetables are what they can get, then good for them too.

  216. @DMS Thank you for taking this into account! Anyone who has walked into a food pantry (no, not the one in your kitchen) quickly understands the necessity of canned goods.

  217. The best kept secret in Amazon pantry... "Blue Runner Creole Cream Style Red Beans" Heat up a can, pour over rice and instant heaven! Perfect meal when one doesn't have time to cook or just a perfect meal!

  218. There are many foods that I enjoy canned, but artichokes and artichoke hearts are not one of them. They always have this horrible aftertaste. So much so that I can tell when a restaurant meal has been made from canned rather than fresh artichoke, and I now only eat the whole vegetable steamed fresh.

  219. Remembering the great possibilities of canned food is important for those of us in California where the electric company is planning to shut the power off when fire danger is high! Stock up now.

  220. Can you give us the recipe for "Mrs. Ruby’s molten, cheesy artichoke dip" please!

  221. Sorry. Frozen for me.

  222. If you go around Op shops and all those charitable trust shops you'll find lots of really good locally printed little fund raising cookbooks for sale. I've bought about 50 so far, for $1 each, at the local Salvation Army Shop. You might find some famous names on the pages, under the name of the person who donated their favourite recipe. (The people were not famous when the cookbooks were printed.) Lot of those recipes are from home cooks who knew a thing or two about baking and cooking from about 1950 to 1980. You'll find recipes in them that you'll never find anywhere else and they use local ingredients.

  223. I wonder why this article didn't mention the linings of canned foods, and leeching BPA? Did I miss that? I am all for canned foods-- even though I try and find a substitute in glass-- but I wish Ms Clark would've included some of the health reasons why some of us try and eat as little canned foods as possible. In Germany, we can find peas, whole tomatoes, chickpeas, anchovies, artichoke hearts and even hot dogs in glass jars. It's hard to find Libby's pureed pumpkin so we cook acorn squash and scoop it out for our pumpkin pies. Coconut milk is still in cans as is tuna fish.

  224. @LLHAPHT In food columns and television shows, this type of real risk and others like flagrant calorie, sodium and fat issues are almost never touched upon.

  225. @LLHAPHT BPA-free cans have been around forever, at least in the U.S. they have been.

  226. Visitors from overseas used to have a saying when they observed American eating habits. “Americans eat what they can, and what they can’t, they can.”

  227. Exactly right, and a clever turn of phrase!

  228. Many years ago, I worked in a canning factory in Oconomowoc , Wisconsin. I remember canning the peas and carrots as soon as they arrived from the fields, so they were perfectly fresh. I was making $1.35 an hour and was happy as a lark. I am from Alabama and loved Wisconsin, it’s beautiful countryside, its cheese and it’s beer. But especially it’s people. I was so impressed at the University of Wisconsin at Madison where at the student union they served draft beer. In Alabama in those days we didn’t have this. The University at Madison, on the lakes and so beautiful. I always wished I had gone there.

  229. Nothing better than a good fresh tomato, but when cooking, San Marzano canned tomatoes are better in every dish from Chinese stir fried eggs and tomato to pasta sauces. Also Bush's or Goya black beans and Luck’s giant limas are essentials.

  230. Hey I grew up in the 1940s here on the west coast, so I am very well aware of canned foods. I grew up before frozen foods were readily available in grocery stores. I am wholeheartedly in favor of canned foods. You can't beat refried beans from canned black beans or pinto beans. Chickpeas are a must from the can. Olives, tomatoes, and artichokes, yum. The artichoke dip sounds fantastic. BTW, tuna in olive oil is the only way to go.

  231. @Red Rat Home cooked garbanzos are so much better. Pressure cookingmakesit fast to do. And it is far healthier--no contamination from the enamel in cans.

  232. Are you kidding?! No recipe for the cheesy artichoke dip Melissa opens and closes with? Please print that recipe!

  233. Get an insta-pot and give away your can opener. You can pressure cook much faster for beans and pretty much anything canned. And the flavor is much better.

  234. Progresso White Clam Sauce over a pile of hot Linguine. YUM!

  235. Canned foods are dead foods, have no enzymatic quality left. Enzymes are essential for health! Many vitamins are also destroyed by the extensive cooking they require in ordertoprotect against botulism. Canned foods are also contaminated with the substances which are used to make the enamel on the inside of the cans, which are harmful to human health. When one has to use a preserved food that cannot be dehydrated or dried or frozen, it is best to use bottled. But basically, it would be better to never eat canned food at all!

  236. @fragilewing Nonsense. The reason that the canned vegetables remain nutritionally robust over a long period of time is the lack of enzymes. You'll get your enzymes in all kinds of other places. And only the radically uniformed would keep the vegetables in the can once the can is opened. And that is the only issue -- oxidization. Once you open the can: Eat 'em or put 'em in an airtight container.

  237. Canned clams? Uhhhh, no!