Preserve produce for dietary needs

Preserving foods to meet special dietary needs can be done easily in the home.

REDUCED-SALT DIETS

-Canning: Salt can be safely omitted from home canned vegetables, meats, poultry and fish.

Salt is used as a flavor enhancer rather than a preservative if the recipe calls for only 1-3 teaspoons per pint or quart of food. Use the same process times as for conventionally canned foods. If using a salt substitute, add it when serving the product.

-Pickling: Salt concentrations should not be changed in pickle recipes. Reduced-sodium salts such as “Lite Salt” may be used in quick process recipes.

However, the pickles may have a slightly different taste than expected. Never alter salt concentrations or use reduced-sodium salt when making fermented pickles or sauerkraut. Proper fermentation depends on correct proportions of salt.

-Freezing vegetables requires no added salt during preparation, making them an excellent choice for reduced sodium diets.

REFUCED-SUGAR DIETS

Granulated table sugar (sucrose) is the most frequently used sweetener in canning and freezing.

Sugar helps preserve the color, texture and flavor, but is optional. Honey, corn syrup and brown sugar can be used as substitutes for granulated sugar; however, these alternatives cannot be used for a diabetic diet.

-Canning: Sugar does not act as a preservative in canned fruit. Fruit canned without sugar will be softer than a similar product. Try some of the following options: Can the fruit in its own juice, extract juice from other fruit, use water as the packing liquid.

Artificial sweeteners such as saccharine or aspartame should be added just before serving.

-Freezing: Sugar is not a preservative. It does help maintain flavor, color and texture.

Plan to use frozen fruit within one year. Sugar substitutes may be used in place of sugar. Labels on the products give the equivalents to a standard amount of sugar.