The Easy Way To Make Your Canned Foods More Flavorful

Canned food gets a bad rap but, especially in the kitchen, you can't beat the classics.

Canning is a fairly simple preservation process: Food is placed in jars, then heated to a temperature that kills any lurking microorganisms that could cause foodborne illnesses, per Clemson. For such a straightforward process, canning is a powerful preservative method. High-acid foods like tomatoes and most fruits will keep in a cool, dry place for 18 months, but low-acid foods such as vegetables and meats will keep for as long as five years, reports the USDA.

Believe it or not, that can of carrots in your pantry might be just as fresh as the bundle in your crisper drawer. Contrary to popular belief, those fruits and veggies in your cans were usually put there at their peak freshness, according to North Dakota State University. This not only ensures the food is in its prime, but also that most of the its natural flavors and nutrients are retained, explains EatRight. Plus, it says, the canning process doesn't change the minerals or fat-soluble vitamins in your vegetables in a substantial manner.

Since the freshness of your canned food is likely to stay strong, try this one simple tip to give the product inside a big flavor to match –- and you probably already have all the ingredients you need.

Spice it up

Like most things in life, canned food benefits from a little spice. We don't mean spice as in hot (although, if you're into that, check out this spicy black bean soup made with canned beans). When it comes to transforming your canned food, seasonings are your best friend. As with any recipe, selecting the right herbs and spices for your dish all depends on your base ingredients. To get the most out of your canned tomatoes, Nature Fresh Farms recommends adding basil, cilantro, and oregano as complementary herbs. With corn, Pillsbury suggests pairing thyme and parsley, or even fresh chopped scallions. Food Network says rosemary pairs well with green beans. 

For a Tex-Mex flair on your canned beans, Greatist recommends ground chipotle peppers and adobo seasoning –- or, it says, add tumeric and garlic for an earthy feel. The same rules apply to canned meat: Try lemon pepper or garlic for your tinned fish, or paprika and brown sugar with your Spam. In short, whatever herb you would normally pair with a fresh vegetable or cut of meat from the deli, the same herb will pair well with the canned version.