Skip to content

Healthy Home Canning

Enjoy the bounty of summer &#8212 without the sugar

En español |  Home canning is back in vogue: Sales of canning products are up 35 percent since the start of the recession. If you've been slow to embrace the trend because of concerns about added sugar and sodium, you can relax. New ingredients and processing equipment mean you can make Grandma's yummy preserves and jams without lots of sugar or salt but with equally tasty results.

See also: Canning makes a comeback.

Nearly every canning recipe these days lets you omit sodium and use water, low-sugar or unsweetened fruit juice, or honey instead of sugar syrup, says Kimberley Lord Stewart, author of Eating Between the Lines. Modified pectins — a carbohydrate that puts the "gel" in jelly — help fruits congeal without sugar. And new canner models — both boiling-water and pressure types — ensure that food reaches the proper temperature every time.

To can safely and avoid nasty bugs like botulism, Elizabeth Andress, Ph.D., project director for the National Center for Home Food Preservation, has the following advice: Follow tested recipes carefully. Glass jars and rings may be recycled, but do not reuse the self-sealing lids. Store home-canned foods in a cool, dry, dark place, from 50F to 70F. Can just a few quarts of each item. That way you'll empty your pantry just before the next fresh crop arrives.

Next: Canned Peaches Recipe. >>

Canned Peaches Recipe

6 one-quart canning jars with rings and self-sealing lids

11 pounds ripe peaches

1 package ascorbic or citric acid

2 quarts unsweetened apple or white grape juice


1. Sterilize canning jars and rings by simmering them in hot water for at least 10 minutes, until ready to use. Have the lids nearby.

2. In another saucepan, dip fruit in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, until skins loosen. Dip quickly in cold water and slip off skins. Cut in half, remove pits, and slice. Mix ascorbic or citric acid with water according to the package directions, and coat peaches to prevent darkening.

3. Pack peach slices in jars, almost to the top.

4. Bring the apple or white-grape juice to a boil and ladle it over the peaches, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.

5. Adjust lids and process in a boiling-water canner, with jars covered by 2 inches of boiling water, for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove jars from canner and allow to cool for 12 hours.

6. Unscrew metal rings to make sure lids are sealed. (Each lid should be indented in the center.) Store in a cool, dry, dark place for no longer than one year.

Nutrients per jar: 438 calories, 7g protein, 108g carbohydrates, 11g fiber, 2g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 10mg sodium