Safe Preserving: Safe Changes and Substitutions when Preserving Fruits

The safety of the food that you preserve for your family and friends is important to you. The University of Wisconsin-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 preserving fruits that will keep your home preserved food safe to eat.

Image courtesy of the University of Minnesota.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.

Starting with a research tested recipe is a great first-step when canning fruits at home. Recommended sources of recipes for home canned fruits are the University of Wisconsin and the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Making Jams and Jellies. Nothing says ‘summer’ like the delicious taste of homemade jam and jelly. Jams and jellies are processed in a boiling water or an atmospheric steam canner.

  • You may safely add a small amount (1 teaspoon or less) of herb or other flavoring to a fruit jam or jelly recipes; e.g. when making basil strawberry jam or vanilla cherry jelly.
  • Substitute peaches for nectarines, or apples for pears with the same tasty results.
  • You may use unsweetened, frozen or canned fruit in place of fresh in any jam or jelly recipe. Do not use pre-sweetened fruit.
  • You may use honey in making jams or jellies. In product made with pectin, replace up to 1 cup sugar with 1 cup honey for every 6-pint recipe; be sure to adjust the amount of liquid in the recipe. In recipes with no added pectin, honey can replace up to ½ the sugar; decrease the amount of liquid by the amount of honey added.
  • Use 6 Tablespoons bulk pectin for every box!
  • Follow a recipe tested for the type of pectin (regular, low-sugar, no-sugar) and form (powdered or liquid) that you have. Don’t try substitutions, the product will fail to set.
  • Don’t double jam and jelly recipes….unless you like syrup! If you want to make larger batches, try using Clear-gel (modified corn starch) as a thickener rather than pectin.
  • Don’t worry about failures! Unset jam or jelly makes great pancake or ice cream topping, or can be used in cooking as a meat glaze, etc. Recook instructions are on p. 15 of Making Jams, Jellies & Fruit Preserves (B2909).

Recommended recipes for Homemade Jams and Jellies are available from the University of Wisconsin or the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine also has some excellent and fun-to-try recipes.

In addition to home-canned treats, try drying fruits at home. Dried fruits add flavor to many dishes. Tips on drying food at home can be found at the National Center website.

A full list of safe substitutions can be found here.

Safe preserving! Barb