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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Food Preservation for a Special Diet

People who need to reduce the amount of sugar or salt they eat often wonder if they can preserve foods at home without these ingredients. Actually, canning or freezing foods for special diets at home is a practical way to save money. Dietetic-packed foods from the grocery store are generally more expensive than their conventionally- canned counterparts.


Q.  We are on special diets in our house. Is it safe to can or freeze without salt?
A.  YES. With the exception of pickles and brine, cured or smoked products, salt is not necessary for safe processing of home canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. The use of salt does help retain color and texture but it is primarily added for flavor.

Q.  Can fruit be canned without using sugar?
A.  Recipes and directions for canning fruits actually call for the addition of sugar or sugar syrup. The sugar added to canned fruit products help hold the texture, shape and color of the fruit. Sugar also adds flavor but is not needed to prevent spoilage. Water or fruit juice can be substituted for sugarless home-canning. Splenda type sweeteners work great for canning.

Q.  Can fruit be frozen without using sugar?
A.  Again, sugar is not needed to prevent spoilage so fruit can be frozen without it. However, sugar does help preserve food quality.

Q.  What about making jams and jellies?
A.  The sugar in jams and jellies helps in the formation of the gel and serves as a preservative as well as adding to the flavor. Jams and jellies can be made without sugar. To make sugarless jams and jellies, use commercial pectin designed for sugar free jams and jellies. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.