Adventures in Canning

I did a really fun high school canning workshop this past week (thanks Westshore Learning Centre folks!).  We were going over some questions at the end of the session, and I was asked a lot about what you can’t/shouldn’t can — not because it would be unsafe, but because it would be too gross.  Ice cream and cheese were batted around as two options for what not to can:  cheese because it would potentially get all weird and melty, and ice cream because you’d have to add more acid to get the balance right for hot water bath (and really, would you want to chow down on vinegar-y ice cream?).

It was an extremely entertaining discussion, but it also got me thinking about some of the weirder options for canning.  I’ve done tomato sauces, salsas, pickles, jams, jellies, and so forth.  You know, all the regular old standard canning recipes.  I’ve never looked into the weirder side of canning, but once I started asking the internet I was pretty surprised and entertained by the results.

First off, apparently you actually can can cheese.  I found a recipe detailing how on an Alaskan homesteading message board.  The author tried her hand at canning cheese after her previous storage method (in a sealed 5 gallon bucket, along with her year’s supply of dehydrated bananas) was discovered and consumed by a black bear.

You don’t need to stop at cheese, however.  Ever had a hankering for homemade cheese whiz or wondered how to save your bacon grease through a hot summer?  Or maybe you’ve dreamed of the pleasures of Mountain Dew Jelly (that’s right, 3 1/2 cups of Mountain Dew and 4 1/2 cups of sugar will get you this tasty delight) or  pickled pumpkin.

Some of the recipes I found were on the dark side of wackiness (Kool Aid Jelly comes to mind), but others were amazingly creative uses for underused plants.  Kudzu Jelly and Dandelion Jelly fall in the latter category — what a rad ways to use plants usually dismissed as weeds!

What is the weirdest or most creative thing you’ve ever canned?  Any notable successes or failures with odd recipes?  I’d love to hear other folks’ experiences on this topic!

Important note:  Some of the recipes I link to have pretty old school/outdated procedural advice for how to can.  Please feel free to use the recipes as inspiration, but always make sure you are using the procedures of modern hot water bath canning to ensure the safety of your canned goods.


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