How to Use Tin Cans for Cooking

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Tin cans have long been used by scout troops, 4H groups and other outdoor enthusiasts for cooking food. Often referred to as hobo cookware, a tin can is perfectl for use as a cooking vessel when a saucepan is not available. Tin can cooking can be done on a campfire, grill or electric and gas ranges. Before cooking anything in a tin can, be sure that the paper label and the glue are removed.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal kitchen scrubby
  • Can opener
  • Long handled spoon
  • Hot pads or oven mitts
  • Pliers or vice grips
  • Remove the label from the can and scrub away the remaining glue from the outside of the can.

  • Open the can using a can opener if you are planning to cook the food inside the can.

  • Place the can on the stove burner eye and set the temperature to medium low. Use pliers or vice grips, attached to the top edge of the can, to serve as a handle for the cooking pot. Cook the food slowly, stirring often with a long handled spoon until the food is hot.

  • Remove the can from the stove top or oven using hot pads or oven mitts. Set the can on a heat-proof surface or board to serve the cooked food.

  • Use clean, empty tin cans for baking breads, muffins or cakes. Liberally grease the insides of the cans before adding bread dough or batter.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because tin cans are much thinner than a normal saucepan, foods will cook quicker and are more likely to scorch. Stir the food often while cooking and remove from the heat source when the food is done. Always inspect empty tin cans for signs of rust before using them to cook food. Rusted can should be thrown away or recycled. Tin cans can also be used as biscuit cutters. Simply remove the top and bottom of the can. Tuna cans will make large biscuits, while mushroom cans will make smaller sized rounds. Use tin cans to form meat loaves. Place the meat in the can, packing it down. Use a manual can opener to remove the end of the can and use the metal end to push the loaf out of the opened end. The meat loaf will come out perfectly round. You can also use this method to shape jello and cheese logs.
  • Never cook food in an unopened tin can. Heat and the vacuum inside the unopened can create conditions for botulism to occur in the food.

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