Canning Weird – Moving Beyond Jams and Salsas

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Canning Weird

I think just about everyone who learns to can foods starts with water bathed strawberry jam and tomato salsas. Some then progress to vegetables and fruits, and if they are really brave, step up their game and start pressure canning meats. When I first tried canning a savory fig jam, I thought I was being pretty “wild.” But then, I really went outside my canning comfort zone and started “Canning Weird” according to my family.

There’s nothing at all unusual about canning jelly… unless you use flowers! I’m not typically a fan of “flowery” flavors, or even scents. But this jelly, made from dried lavender, is both delicious and beautiful! There are so many medical and therapeutic benefits to lavender, why not add a culinary use as well? (Don’t have lavender in your yard? You can buy food grade lavender online.)

Recipe: Lavender Jelly from “Howling Duck Ranch”

My next out of the ordinary canning project was “Cherry Stomp” (AKA: Cherry Bounce or Drunken Cherries).  The first batch I tried used bourbon and was WAY too boozy for me… and for the friends that received jars as gifts!… but I discovered a better recipe that uses vodka instead. It might have been a personal preference, so if you like bourbon, whiskey, or brandy then look up recipes using those as the main ingredient. Someday I’d like to try it with rum. But whichever alcohol you use… be warned! These are potent!

Recipe: Cherry Stomp Recipe from “City Boy Hens”

This last one… you’re going to have to trust me on this… Canned Pickled Watermelon Rinds.

Let me be more specific… you only can the white part of the rind… the fleshy part between the red fruit and the green rind. After cutting up the delicious red watermelon flesh save those rinds! Slice the white portion out, set it aside and get to canning! I admit, this one worried me a bit. But the final result was quite yummy! If you’re the kind of person who wants to use every edible scrap, canning this part of the melon that is usually trash is a great idea.

Recipe: Canned Pickled Watermelon Rinds Recipe from “Pick Your Own”

I have an old Ball Canning Guide from 1943 with a few more unusual canning recipes… including canned Frog Legs, Mushroom Ketchup, and Lye Hominy. I’m not sure if I will go quite that “crazy” just yet! But I am sure to step out-of-the-box and try something new every now and then.

What’s the most unusual thing you have ever canned?

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Amy VR

Amy is an Air Force Brat and an Army Wife. She learned early on that being prepared was essential since natural disasters follow her.

57 thoughts on “Canning Weird – Moving Beyond Jams and Salsas”

  1. I guess it’s natural to want to branch out once you’ve got the basics down! Last year I had a LOT if green tomatoes so I looked up a recipe for Green Tomato Jam. It’s more of a chutney flavor and supposedly goes well with meats. Not sure I like it with meat but it’s interesting! Thanks for the encouragement to try new things!

  2. I haven’t tried eating them yet, but I made dill pickled carrots with a recipe from the Ball Canning Book. Looks really pretty in the jars…hope they are tasty! I also make LOTS of pickled jalapenos with garlic. Hubby loves it on his sandwiches…..

  3. Pickled Watermelon Rinds over ham! YUM. The guys have been yelling ’cause we’re out and I need to restock.

  4. The weirdest things I’ve canned are wild violet jelly and dandelion jelly. Both of which are really delicious! I’ve also canned venison and rabbit.

    1. Rose petal jam, wild violet pancake syrup (doing jelly this year), dandelion jelly, and honeysuckle jelly. Will share recipes cause if you’re like me and it sounds good you’ll search and search until you find one.

      Will be trying pickled watermelon rind tomorrow.

      I would love to be able to can venison, rabbits and squirrels if someone wouldn’t mind sharing how.

      1. Also will be trying the lavender jelly as soon as I can 🙂

        Also plan to try the watermelon rind marmalade as I have 6 watermelon to do something with. I love adding herbs to my jellies also.

        I would so love to see the recipe for the pine needles! And of course any odd recipe. I love trying new stuff and really enjoy the look of “you’ve really lost it this year” from family. …until they taste it 🙂 then they start compiling their Christmas and Birthday lists from what I’ve canned or plan to can.

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  6. My mother used to make marmalade from the watermelon rind. She ground the rind in the meat grinder, added equal amounts of sugar and a little lemon juice. Cooked it until thickened and canned it in the water bath canner. She did the same with cantaloupe flesh. She never used a recipe so when I duplicated them it was by trial and error. Cooked the cantaloupe too long the first time but the marmalades are delicious. Hard to find watermelons with a good thick rind these days unless you grow your own.

  7. I’ve made pineapple zucchini and basically use it in jello salads that call for pineapple. From my daughter-in-law from Russia we found a recipe and made Adjika which is a garlic tomato pesto used over meat! I try a new recipe each year. I just love canning a big variety of things and love making soups and meats that are our convenience and emergency foods.

    1. I’ve done this too and it’s a great way to use up all that zucchini in a way that doesn’t seem like zucchini. I even put the “pineapple” in zucchini bread which makes it zucchini, zucchini bread.

  8. I can all sorts of stuff! My husband is fascinated with the process of pressure canning, so we have canned cooked ground beef, cooked taco seasoned ground beef and chili with the pressure canner. It’s pretty handy to be able to microwave a jar of cooked ground beef and have dinner ready a few minutes later. I also pickle green beans, carrots, radishes, beets, mushrooms, cucumbers, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. All are delicious! Jams are a regular thing here. We also make our own mustard, ketchup, relish and chutney. My sons did NOT like the pickled blueberries (it was in a red wine vinegar brine, with cinnamon and other spices), but other than that they love eating the foods I’ve put up. We also once pressure canned rabbit meat, but I haven’t opened it up to eat it, so I can’t comment on that. It looks a bit unappetizing in the jar…

  9. The most unusual things I have canned are pickled Pipinola (chayote to the rest of the world) and sweet pickled pumpkin. Oh, wait and pickled green beans. All were hits.

  10. I loved the article. I too have an old 1943 Ball canning book (a Kerr one from 1941 also). There are some of the most interesting recipes in it.
    We did watermelon pickles several years ago. I too was skeptical at how they would come out but the family loved them. They were too sweet for me.
    I am going to have to try the Cherry Stomp. I know what some people are getting for the holidays.

    1. One of my favorite things about the 1943 Ball canning book is the reference to the rubber seals… They explain in the beginning that the quality was not quite what it normally was. They had to use a different process to make them because of the lack of access to the rubber material due to the ongoing war effort. The history lesson included in the cookbook was unexpected and fascinating to me.

  11. i am obsessed with canning now!! i have done pumpkin chunks, hot peppers, green chili pork and chicken, beef, stew and the weirdest was ratatouille!! i had a ton of extra eggplant that was NOT delicious when i cooked it by itself….but it IS delicious in the ratatouille!!

  12. People are about to lose their minds: chicken gizzards. I know. I know. Someone out there just felt their blood pressure hit the roof, and they are screaming at their monitor, “NO! YOU CAN’T CAN ORGANS” Technically gizzards are muscles located outside the digestive tract. We love them fried or boiled (forever) in white or yellow rice. If you fry them at home, they are tough and you never get through chewing them and when you want gizzards and rice, you either have to pressure cook them or boil them for hours. Tell me: Who has that much time? Not me! and besides, I wanted to start canning meat and I figured if I messed up really horribly and it was inedible, at least I wouldn’t have that much money tied up in it. I did a case of half pints. They were all eaten, no one died, (although my son came close when I discovered he had eaten the entire case in one weekend! LOL)

  13. I have a ton of Swiss chard every year from my garden. We pickle the stems just like you would cucumbers. I think they are crispier than cukes but regardless they are fantastic bread and butter style.

  14. My grandmother canned purple hull pea hulls, as in the hulls of the peas after they’re shelled. i don’t remember what it tasted like but it was pretty. She also made hogs head cheese, which I thought was good until I was there during a hog butchering session and realized what it meant. Umm, no thanks. I’m a little too 21st century for that.

  15. By the way, I buy chicken in bulk and can a lot of it. Makes dinner prep a snap, easy chicken salad, and will survive if we lose electricity. I’m getting some salmon next month and am going to try to can it too. last year I canned cranberry sauce, not weird but not in the normal range either. I got stuck doing jellies and jams when I first started and still have a surplus, so I began trying mixing it up with other things, like cranberry/ginger sauce and pie fillings.

  16. While I can lots (my boys have a long list of food allergies) some of the different ones we can are zucchini jam (made with jello) hot dog relish, strawberry lemonade concentrate and maraschino cherries. To make homemade maraschino cherries takes 3 days and you pickle them first. They are so much better than store bought and no red food coloring either!

  17. I LOVE weird canning!!! I have done watermelon rind pickles. Dandelion jelly. Violet jelly (one of my favs!) Green tomato salsa verde was a new one for me this year. My family jokes that if I can stick it in a jar, I will can it! LOL!

  18. I’ve done some herb jellies using apple juice as the base: chamomile, rose, lavender. My grandma made tomato-lemon jam, which makes an odd combination until you remember that tomatoes are actually a fruit. This recipe tastes to me like the color orange should taste! I also love to add different spices to traditional jams. Last summer I tried cardamom-plum, cinnamon-plum, and nutmeg-plum.

  19. I have made green tomato butter…tastes just like apple butter when done. Corn cob jelly…tastes similar to honey.

  20. I have made cherry and pomegranate jelly, sweet and sour sauce, apricot bar b que sauce and pear relish. We did not care for the pear relish but the jelly is the bomb. There is nothing like having food on the shelf that you know what is in it.

  21. My Grandmother made the best watermelon rind pickles, that is until my cousin made a batch with the little cinnamon red hot candies. If you liked watermelon rind pickles and like cinnamon you have to find that recipe on line. It is THE BEST.

  22. I’m brand new to canning, as in this year was my first EVER attempt. It was also the year of waaaay too many tomatoes ( Australia ). First was the recipe followed exactly green tomato salsa, then some red tomato salsa…and finally, I created an Indian green tomato chutney, using the green salsa recipe, but chunking it full of our favourite Indian spices! So it’s not weird, but I couldn’t find a waterbath recipe for Indian green tomato chutney, so I invented it…..

  23. I have a recipe for apple core and rind jelly I got off pinterest. Weird but I love frugal so come apple season I’m trying it!

    1. I got a very good deal on a case of cantaloupe recently. I cut it all up and froze it. I am wondering if I could use it in a cantaloupe butter recipe. Any idea if it would work?

  24. Hey amy!
    I have been an avid canner for 35 + yrs. My kids call me the “mad scientist” of canning. I’ve done bacon, sausage links, Curried apple chutney, onion jam, corned beef, bananas, just to name a few. Keep up the good weird work girl & thanks 4 sharing!

  25. My mom made “Watermelon pickles” all the time…love them!!! My problem is finding watermelons with a thick enough rind to make them! Any suggestions?

  26. I saw a recipe for Kudzu jelly and wanted to try but never did. I love canning. I made bread and butter pickles today.

    1. KUDZU jelly! Wow. Now I’ve heard of everything! 🙂 Back during the Great Depression, in the Dust Bowl region, women canned tumbleweed, so maybe kudzu isn’t so crazy.

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  28. I had an over abundance of hot peppers last year so I branched out into making something different. Made the usual pickled jalepenos, then a jalepeno mix like you find at mexican restaurants with carrots, onions and cauliflower. Made a cherry hot pepper jam that is just to die for! I use it on everything now! Makes the best BLT youve ever had if you use that instead of mayo. Also use it as a glaze for ham, chicken or pork. I even made hot pepper mustard last year. Tell you that was the easiest thing I ever canned! Havent experimented much this year. Garden is not producing like it did last year 🙁

  29. I think my friends first got the idea that I was off my rocker when I gave them jelly made from foraged berries they never heard of, then I made jelly with fireweed flowers and while skeptical they loved it. Then came holiday season and I made pumpkin jam. Took my friends a whole 2 months, and a bit of prodding, before they cracked those open, I got rave reviews lol

    This summer will be more pickles, haven’t made pickled peaches in awhile and I’ve been craving them like crazy!

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