Safe substitutions when canning

The safety of the food that you preserve for your family and friends is important to you. The University of Wisconsin Division of Extension supports using up-to-date, research-tested recipes so that you know that the food that you preserve is both safe and high in quality. Here are a few quick tips on changes and substitutions that are acceptable when using tested/approved recipes for canning fruits, meat, and vegetables  that will keep your home preserved food safe to eat.

Canning Fruits. Sugar is added to canned fruits help preserve color, help firm texture, and for flavor.

  • Choose a light fruit juice such as white grape juice for canning if you wish to reduce sugar in home-canned fruit.
  • You may safely eliminate sugar altogether when canning fruits at home, if you prefer. However, fruit canned in water is generally considered unappealing, and will spoil more quickly once opened.
  • There are no tested recipes for using sugar substitutes such as Sucralose in home canning. Refer to the manufacturer for directions for home canning using a sugar substitute.

Canning Meat. Meat is low in acid and must be canned in a pressure canner.

  • You may add a small amount of seasoning, onions, or garlic when home-canning meat using a tested recipe without changing the processing time.
  • Canned meat products must never be thickened with flour or cornstarch; rice, pasta or barley must never be added; and fat must not be added – any of these changes can result in an unsafe product.
  • Only add meat when called for in a tested recipe. For example, don’t add meat to spaghetti sauce unless the recipe allows this addition.

Canning Vegetables. Vegetables are also low in acid, unless they are pickled, and must be canned in a pressure canner.

  • You may create vegetable mixtures as long as there is a tested recipe for each vegetable that you are combining and you follow the processing time for the vegetable that has the longest time listed.
  • You may add a small amount of garlic (up to 1 clove per jar) to canned vegetables without impacting the processing time in an approved recipe.
  • Do not thicken canned vegetables with flour or cornstarch, or add rice, pasta or other starchy ingredient, an unsafe product will result.

Recommended recipes for safe canning of fruits, meats, or vegetables are available from the University of Wisconsin Division of Extension or the National Center for Home Food Preservation

In addition to fruits, meats, and vegetables, additional safe substitutions are available for canned salsa and other tomato products, homemade pickles and relishes, and tested/approved jam and jelly recipes . A full list of safe substitutions for home canning can be found here.

Stay well. Safe preserving! Barb