Learn around the usual ingredients used in house food conservation recipes, such as water, salt, sugars, thickening agents, and also alternatives.

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Canning salt or pickling salt is pure salt, no additives. This kind of salt is the best selection for canning, pickling, and also sauerkraut. Picture credit: Mike Houtz, penn State

The quality and safety that home-preserved foods is dependent, in large part, top top the ingredients that space used. Picking the highest quality fruits and vegetables at their peak of freshness is the an initial step. Those that show signs of decay or are heavily bruised need to be avoided. The is essential to follow conservation recipes using the ingredients as written. Perform not make alters to ingredient amounts or ratios that influence acidity and also texture, together these factors play vital role in the security of the process. Minor alters can be made only where the cooking recipes allows. This guide provides information on plenty of of the typical ingredients provided in house food conservation recipes.


Water accounts because that over 90 percent of most foods. When water is a cooking recipes ingredient, that composition deserve to determine the high quality of the last product. For safety and security reasons, use only water the you understand is for sure to drink. The quality of canned foods can be influenced by the lot of mineral in water. If difficult water is used, high level of calcium or magnesium have the right to lead come the development of white precipitate the clouds the brine and eventually settles to the bottom of the jar. This phenomenon is particularly true for low-acid foods, such together canned green beans. Various other minerals, such together iron, deserve to darken light-colored foodstuffs or include an unpleasant flavor. If mineral in hard water are a problem, think about using filtered bottled water or passing water through one of the commercially obtainable water therapy units that attach to the faucet.

Salt and Salt Substitutes

Generally, salt is added to foodstuffs to enhance their flavor. Salt deserve to be omitted for canning tomatoes, vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood since the amount included does not contribute to the safety of the food. However, in fermented sauerkraut and also brined pickles, salt no only provides a characteristic odor but additionally is critical to safety due to the fact that it favors the growth of preferable bacteria when inhibiting the development of others. Therefore, perform not attempt to do sauerkraut or fermented pickles by cutting ago on the salt required.

Table salt is for sure to usage for canning. However, that usually contains anticaking additives that may make the brine cloudy or produce sediment in ~ the bottom the the jar. Iodized salt is not recommended because that fermenting pickles and sauerkraut, or for canning, because it may cause them come darken, discolor, or it is in spotty. The will also cause inexplicable colors to type in part vegetables. For example, cauliflower will periodically turn pink or purple.

Canning salt or pickling salt is pure salt, no additives. This form of salt is the best an option for canning, pickling, and also sauerkraut.

Kosher salt is a coarse, flaked, pure salt that also can be provided in canning. Due to the fact that flaked salt might vary in density, the is no recommended because that making pickled and also fermented foods, especially when salt concentration is a critical factor for microbial growth.

Sea salt is evaporated sea water and also contains miscellaneous minerals. It is safe to eat, but minerals in the salt may reason canned foods items to discolor or affect the flavor.

Rock salt, ice cream salt, and also solar salt are offered to melt ice, frozen homemade ice cream, and soften water. Since they room not considered an ideal for human being consumption, do not use them for house food preservation.

Salt substitutes contain chemistry that provide a braided flavor but small or no sodium. Many salt substitutes contain potassium chloride. Some civilization think the potassium chloride has actually a metallic taste. One brand add to L-lysine come mask the metallic flavor. Perform not substitute potassium chloride for salt chloride in fermentation recipes. One means to reduced the salt content that sauerkraut or pickles is come rinse the product v water just prior to heating and also serving, however never perform this before canning. Lowering the salt contents of fermented products before canning will reduced the acid content (raise the pH) and also possibly render the product unsafe to eat or quick to spoil.

Sugars and also Nonnutritive Sweeteners

Sugars and also Nonnutritive Sweeteners knowledge the flavor and also heat stability properties of different sweeteners is essential when deciding i beg your pardon to use for a specific application. For finest results, us recommend complying with canning and freezing recipes in the Let"s Preserve collection or those native the National center for home Food Preservation. This recipes have been pretested to make certain that friend get good results consistently.

Table street (sucrose) is the usual white granulated product we usage to sweeten foods. Brown sugar is polished white sugar through molasses mixed in, and although the flavor different somewhat, the has around the exact same sweetness value as white street when considered on a volume basis. Powdered sugar is finely ground sucrose an unified with a little amount that cornstarch to prevent caking. This starch makes it unsuitable for canning since it may cause the brine to come to be cloudy. In addition to that is sweetening effect, sugar serves as a keeping agent and also aids in the gelling of jams and also jellies.

Corn syrup is manufactured from corn strength by heater under acidic conditions. ~ a concentration step, the last product is a viscous mixture consisting mainly of glucose and also polysaccharide chains of varying lengths. There are assorted corn syrups obtainable on the market; the sugar content may vary depending upon how long the procedure is permitted to proceed. Therefore, the is an overwhelming to transform a volume that sugar right into an tantamount amount of corn syrup at the same sweetness level. Us recommend utilizing a pretested food conservation recipe that especially indicates just how much fluid corn syrup to use.

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is corn syrup that has actually been amendment enzymatically to convert glucose molecules into fructose. The sweetening capability of the HFCS deserve to be manipulated through adjusting the lot of fructose to between 42 and also 90 percent that the product. HFCS is supplied most often as one ingredient in commercially made foods and also typically not uncovered on grocery keep shelves. If you to be to find and also use HFCS, take into consideration using a lower volume than in recipes calling for corn syrup.

Honey is a natural product in i beg your pardon the main sugar is fructose. The is for sure to use as sweetener for canning or freezing. However, the odor of the honey-sweetened foods items may be noticeably various than expected. You may wish to make small quantities first to identify if you prefer them.


Maple syrup is make from the sap of street maple trees. The extracted fluid is focused by boil to with a conventional sugar content of 66 percent. Pure maple syrup has a solid smoky flavor that some uncover too intense. Therefore, maple syrup assets found in the grocery keep usually contain added corn syrup sweeteners come moderate the flavor and reduce costs. Together recommended previously, experiment with little batches to recognize if the characteristics maple syrup odor is compatible v your product.

Agave syrup, likewise known as agave nectar, is created from the fibrous core of the agave plant. The juice within the core is extract by a warm water procedure and then additional treated with a mix of enzymes and also high temperature problems to breakdown flavorless inulin starch right into soluble sugars. The treated extract is then concentrated into a syrup by cook or a vacuum evaporation process. Due to the fact that most the the sugar included in agave syrup is fructose, the sweetening nature are comparable to those that high-fructose corn syrup. Agave syrup has actually a distinct flavor and some trial and error may be forced when adapting recipes that originally call for street or corn syrup.

Aspartame is not recommended together a sweetening ingredient in canned foods since it rapidly breaks down right into flavorless commodities during heating and storage. However, it have the right to be included to sugarless processed fruit to sweeten them just prior come eating. Aspartame additionally can be used efficiently in frozen fruit recipes.

Saccharin is a an ext heat-stable man-made sweetener that deserve to be used for jellies and jams, although part users have noticed a bitterness taste after processing. Saccharin is also suitable because that freezing.


Acids naturally present in or added to foodstuffs are vital part that the conservation process. Never change the quantity of acid, dilute the acid with water, or substitute acid sources unless the cooking recipes specifically enables you to execute so.

Vinegar is derived naturally by sequential fermentation of sugar to alcohol and then to acetic acid. Cider vinegar is acquired from to apologize juice, if white vinegar is made from pure serial alcohol. For residence food preservation purposes, usage vinegars that room labeled as 5 percent mountain (50 grain) and that room pasteurized due to the fact that they produce continuous results. White vinegar is usually desired when light shade is desirable, together is the situation with fruits and also cauliflower. Carry out not usage homemade vinegar or vinegar that unknown mountain in pickling. The is important to follow the ideal proportion/ratio the vinegar, water, and vegetables given in the recipe. Carry out not dilute the vinegar unless the recipe claims to carry out so due to the fact that you will be diluting the preventive effect. If a much less sour product is preferred, add sugar quite than decrease the vinegar. Overfilling jars with vegetables or underfilling them with acid brine will reduced the full acidity that the product and may adversely affect the security of the product.


Lemon juice is another natural acidulant frequently used in residence food preservation. To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add 2 tablespoons the lemon juice every quart of tomato or 1 tablespoon per pint. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice have the right to contain varying amounts of acid. To ensure repetitively safe results, usage bottled lemon juice purchased at the supermarket. An alternative to lemon juice for acidifying tomatoes is citric acid.

Citric acid is usually marketed as a white crystalline powder. It deserve to be provided safely come acidify foods items if used correctly. To acidify the crate tomatoes explained above, citric acid may be used rather of lemon juice. Include ½ teaspoon per quart or ¼ teaspoon every pint. Citric acid likewise is offered to preserve the shade of fresh cut fruit or together a pretreatment for frozen and also dried fruit (see color Enhancers and Colorants section).

Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid, should never be offered to acidify foods. Some people have a bad reaction come aspirin and its acidification nature vary depending on its strength.

Color Enhancers and Colorants

Citric acid is supplied to keep the color of fresh reduced fruit or together a pretreatment because that frozen and dried fruit. It can be supplied either alone or blended with other substances, such as ascorbic acid, erythorbic acid, N-acetylcysteine, glutathione, and also EDTA. Most civilization find it much more convenient to usage commercially ready antioxidant formulations such as Fresh Fruit Preserver, i beg your pardon contain a mixture that citric and ascorbic mountain as active ingredients.

Ascorbic acid, likewise known together vitamin C, is supplied as one antioxidant to keep fruit native darkening. Pure crystals may be derived at supermarkets and also drug stores. Soak fruit automatically after cutting because that 10 minutes in a solution all set with 1 teaspoon of pure ascorbic acid liquified in 1 gallon of cold water. Crushed vitamin C tablets additionally can be used. Six 500-milligram tablet computers equal 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid. Erythorbic acid, also known together isoascorbic acid, is chemically identical to ascorbic acid however has no vitamin C task because it is structurally different. It does have comparable antioxidant properties and also can be used the same way ascorbic acid is used to maintain color.

Sulfites room sulfur-containing link that have actually been offered for century to prevent discoloration and also reduce spoilage throughout the preparation, dehydration, storage, and distribution of plenty of foods. However, in current years, sulfites have actually been implicated as initiators the asthmatic reaction in some people. As a result, the FDA has banned the use of sulfites on fresh fruits and also vegetables for sale or offered raw come consumers. They space still supplied as one antimicrobial agent and also to help preserve the shade of some dried fruit products. However, due to the fact that of the wellness considerations involved, we recommend versus the use of sulfites to preserve foods.

Food colors are obtainable in both synthetic and also natural forms. Return not essential if an excellent quality ingredients room used, there are number of food-grade food dyes accessible that space safe to use. Because that example, man-made red food color is an optional ingredient for canned cherry pie filling. Make sure any type of colorants girlfriend use are approved by the FDA for use in foods and also use them follow to brand directions. Avoid specific colorants the some human being have reported being perceptible to, such as yellow #5 or carmine red. Some highly colored fruit or vegetables have the right to act as a natural shade sources—for example, beet juice, i beg your pardon is used to send a red shade to refrigerated pickled eggs, or turmeric powder, i m sorry is provided in pickle recipes to add a yellow color.

Texture Enhancers and also Thickening Agents

Pickling lime (calcium hydroxide) is a for sure product that, if provided correctly, can be supplied to boost the structure of pickles. But it is not essential if an excellent quality ingredients are used. Food-grade lime is used as a lime-water equipment for soaking fresh cucumbers 12 to 24 hours prior to pickling. Overabundance lime soaked up by the cucumbers must be gotten rid of to do safe pickles. After soaking, drainpipe the lime-water solution, rinse, and also then resoak the cucumbers in new water because that 1 hour. Repeat the rinsing and soaking procedures two much more times prior to processing.

Alum, marketed as a pickling ingredient, may be supplied safely to do fermented cucumbers crispier. But it is unnecessary if good-quality cucumbers room used and tested recipes space followed. Alum walk not improve the firmness that quick-process pickles.

Starches room a usual group the thickeners provided in many food products. Because the viscosity (thickness) the food during canning affect the amount of warm that penetrates into jars throughout processing, use just the exact form and lot of starch stated in the recipe. Do not change recipes for soups by including starch thickeners since this may an outcome in underprocessing.

Pectins room naturally arising thickening agents extracted from the cell walls of specific fruits. Once the exactly proportion that acid, sugar, and water is heated and then enabled to cool, a thickened gelatin forms. Apples, crab apples, gooseberries, and some plums and also grapes usually contain enough natural pectin to type a gel. Various other fruits, such as strawberries, cherries, and blueberries, contain tiny pectin and must be merged with various other fruits high in pectin or advertisement pectin extracts. Modification pectins space specifically produced to make low-sugar, no-sugar, and freezer jams and jellies. To obtain the finest results, follow the instructions detailed exactly as noted by the manufacturer.

Gelatin is an animal protein that forms a gelatin under refrigerated conditions. Gelatin is not warmth stable and also therefore not ideal for box foods. However, it may be used to thicken refrigerated low-sugar jams and jelly recipes.

Miscellaneous Ingredients

Oils are pressed native several types of plants consisting of corn, sunflower, safflower, canola, olives, walnuts, and also hazelnuts. A couple of teaspoons of aromatic oils may be included to canning recipes v no result on the safety and security of the process. However, adding an ext than the encourage amount to an already approved recipe may be hazardous because penetration of heat into the product may be affected.

Spices and herbs are aromatic dried pipeline or various other plant parts offered to flavor food. Because of their intense flavor, dried spices and also herbs are used in little amounts that execute not impact the safety of recipes. Premixed summer sprouts mixes are available for particular products, such as salsa or pickled vegetables, and also safe to usage if parcel instructions room followed. Since the drying process concentrates seasonings in dried herbs, you will need about three time the lot of fresh herbs as soon as substituting because that dry. A couple of sprigs of new herbs can additionally be added to canning recipes v no result on the security of the process. However, if a fresh herb is the main ingredient the the product, such together for basil pesto, it must be processed together a low-acid food. We carry out not have any type of tested recipes for canning pesto sauces and we encourage civilization to freeze this product instead.

Water glass, chemically recognized as salt silicate, has actually long been supplied to keep eggs. Us cannot recommend the use of water glass due to the fact that the safety and security of commodities preserved using this ingredient has not to be evaluated scientifically.

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Prepared through Luke LaBorde, professor of food science; Martha Zepp, 2175forals.com project assistant; and also Andy Hirneisen, an elderly food safety and security educator.