Back to Basics: Pantry Staples – Tinned Fruit

Now we’ve been dealing with the Virus That Shall Not Be Named for over a year now, I feel like I may be somewhat late to the table with this advice. However, I feel that there may be a few people out there who have decided the drive-through and Uber Eats Lyfe is no longer for them, and want to do more home-based cooking…but maybe don’t know where to start.

I’ve compiled a list and will be discussing, one by one, many of the widely available, basic pantry staples in the standard North American and European diet that will help you create a meal out of almost anything (within reason), some instructions on how to cook certain items, and links to my favourite recipes to get you started. Please see my other posts in the Back to Basics category for more recipes and meal ideas.


Tinned fruit is a marvelously economical method for making sure you have fruit in your diet even during the coldest of winters. Being able to store what is normally a highly perishable foodstuff for months on end with no electricity or cold storage required (though tinned pantry staples always fare better in a cool, dry environment) is highly desirable; especially when freezer space is limited.

With today’s improved commercial preservation methods and wide availability of once-highly limited fruit options due to seasonality and geographical distance, we can now have all sorts of fruits year-round that were once only for special occasions or even out of our reach. Consider the humble tin of fruit cocktail; one might find peaches, pears, cherries, pineapples and grapes among other more exotic fruits in a single container. Check out this cool little YouTube video of how fruit cocktail is made and canned.

Beyond standard fruit cocktail, there are a myriad of fruits that are canned and available for purchase either in your local grocery store or online. As well as or instead of the usual peaches, pears, and prunes for sale in your local store, try Thai rambutan, jackfruit, longan, lychee or mangosteen, or maybe you would prefer tropical mango, coconut, mandarin oranges or guava; how about the exotic pomelo, starfruit, kumquat, passionfruit, or the highly controversial durian fruit? There are few fruits that cannot stand up to the rigours of the canning process (bananas are one of the few I can think of off the top of my head), so if it grows somewhere in the world and is edible, it’s probably canned somewhere!

Not all fruits are in metal cans, however; many fruits and fruit pastes, jams, compotes, jellies, pie fillings, and the like are preserved using a canning process but available in glass or sturdy plastic jars.

For the purposes of this post, however, I will try to stick with recipes using the most highly-available and popular tinned fruits domestically (North America and Europe), with maybe one or two others thrown in for good measure (but I draw the line at durian).

Pears: Tinned pears are excellent to bake with, as they are similar in consistency in their canned form to fresh. Pear Upside Down Cake by Food Apparel is a nice change of pace from pineapple, and looks both sturdy as well as delicious. Or if you’re in more of a quickbread mood, this Chocolate Chip Pear Bread is scrumptious and easy to make.

Peaches: I would be remiss if I didn’t include at least one recipe for Peach Cobbler; with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this summer dessert is one of my Top Ten all-time favourites. And speaking of ice cream, how about this Ultimate Homemade Peach Ice Cream, which to me is summer in a bowl. Even better, this UK-based Peach Melba Smoothie looks heckin’ yummy; if you don’t happen to have fresh custard laying about (FYI Brits, this is *not a thing* anywhere else in the world), it’s easily subbed with vanilla or another favourite flavour of yogurt.

Fruit Cocktail: yes, there are recipes that use fruit cocktail in a dessert, like this Fruit Cocktail Cake, which is apparently a Southern thing, and an excellent way to use up a tin of fruit cocktail that maybe has sat forgotten in your cupboard for a little too long and you have to use it but don’t want to eat a huge tin of fruit cocktail at that moment. Totally not self-referencing at ALL. And it wouldn’t feel complete without mentioning this blast from the past, the marshmallow-laden Fruit Cocktail Salad, which you can also add diced fresh fruit into as well.

Mandarin Oranges: I grew up with these tiny tins in my parents’ pantry at all seasons; desserts in my childhood age were often lime Jello with these little guys floating sadly within (*shudder*). Now, with oranges available year-round, the only reason I would purchase a tin of mandarin oranges would be for a specific recipe, such as this Cornmeal Citrus Cake, which looks divine and a perfect use for those tinned oranges. Another easy and quick recipe is this Mandarin Orange Dessert, which calls for only three ingredients! I have a hankering to deconstruct this recipe and see if I can make it from scratch one day, but this is a quick dessert to whip up on those days when you need something fast that can feed a crowd.

Pineapples: Last but certainly not least, one of my favourite canned fruits to use in baking recipes. My Tropical Carrot Cake with Pineapple Cream Cheese Icing is absolutely delicious; it’s moist and flavourful, and well-worth the time it takes to make. On the other hand, this unusual recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Fudge is fascinating and I think I need to try this recipe at least once to see if it’s as delicious as I hope it is.

For even more ideas and recipes to use up your pantry tinned fruit, please check out these compilations below (borrowed with thanks to all the content creators!):

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