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Frequently Asked General Preservation Questions

Can Splenda® (sucralose) be used in preserving food?
How Can I become a Master Food Preserver?
Can I sell my home-preserved food?
I have never canned and would like to know if there is any class to take in my area? Is there a magazine?


Can Splenda® (sucralose) be used in preserving food?
Granular Splenda® does not provide preservative properties like sugar. 

Canning Fruits:  Whereas we do not have published research work with using sucralose in the canning of fruits at home available to us, it is possible to use it for sweetening the water used to cover fruits when canning.  The texture and color preserving aspects of a sugar syrup will not be provided.  The result would be like canning in water except for the additional sweetness contributed by the Splenda®.  The USDA fruit canning directions do allow for canning in water (i.e., without a sugar syrup), as there is adequate preservation for safety from the heat of proper canning.  Some people do notice an aftertaste in other products and canned fruits, and it is possible some little changes in natural flavors may occur over storage time, since sugar can mask some of these.  For people used to sucralose sweetening and flavors, the aftertaste may not be an issue.  Based on some of our experiences in canning peaches and pickled foods, we suggest you start seeing what you like by trying less than a full substitution for the sugar in canning syrups.  For example, if you use a medium sugar syrup that is 5-/14 cups water to 2-1/4 cups sugar, try 1 to 1-1/4 cups Splenda® the first time.  You can always sweeten more when you serve the finished product if it is not quite sweet enough; then you can increase the canning liquid amount the next time you can.

Preserves and Pickled Fruits: In other cases, where sugar is important, like some preserves or pickled fruits, it is not recommended that substitution of Splenda® be used for sugar if the product is to be canned for shelf stability.  Splenda® cannot be used in several traditional Southern preserves we have on this website or in the University of Georgia Extension publications.  These are whole or uniform pieces of fruit in a very thick sugar syrup, usually made with figs, peaches or pears.  (These preserves are not jam or pectin gel products.)  Sugar is required for the preservation of these syrupy fruit preserves as published, with very short boiling water canner processes.  Without that heavy amount of sugar, these products become fruit pieces canned in water or lighter sugar syrups, and the usual (and longer) fruit canning process times and preparation directions would need to be used.

Jams and Jellies, or Fruit Spreads: You could use Splenda® as the optional sweetener in a jam or jelly made with a no-sugar needed pectin, such as Mrs. Wages™ Lite Home Jell® Fruit Pectin, Ball® No-Sugar Needed Pectin or Sure-Jell® for Less or No-Sugar-Needed Recipes.  With these low-methoxyl pectins, no sugar is required at all.  Sugar substitutes can be added as desired simply for flavor. The package inserts with these pectins give instructions on when to add the sugar substitutes (usually after all the cooking, right before filling the jars).  Do not try to substitute Splenda® for the required sugar in recipes calling for “regular” liquid and powdered pectins. 

And do not try to substitute Splenda® in long-boil or no-pectin-added jams and jellies intended for room temperature storage as a canned product.  You might get some thickened fruit spreads with just fruit and Splenda®, but they may not have enough water control for processing like a gelled, high sugar-containing jam or jelly.  They might require longer processing to avoid spoilage at room temperature.  If you want to experiment with making these kind of fruit spreads we recommend freezing or refrigeration for storage.

We have developed three recipes using Splenda® and they are on our website, www.homefoodpreservation.com. They are quick pickled sweet cucumber slices, pickled beets and pickled cantaloupe.  They are under the How do I....Pickle category, as well as National Center factsheets, http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/nchfp/factsheets.html.

There is also a Peach-Pineapple Reduced Sugar Fruit Spread from the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning that does not require added sugar.  Some other fruit substitutions are provided in the text.  The suggested sugar for sweetening can be left out, or you can add some Splenda® as desired for sweetness.  The process time is longer than regular jams and jellies, and is like that for a fruit puree. http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_07/peach_pineapple_spread.html


Prepared by the National Center for Home Food Preservation, June 2009.  Updated May 13, 2014.

Trade and brand names are used only for information. The Cooperative Extension Service, University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences and College of Family & Consumer Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture do not guarantee nor warrant published standards on any product mentioned; neither does the use of a trade or brand name imply approval of any product to the exclusion of others which may also be suitable.

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How can I become a Master Food Preserver?
“Master” volunteer programs that are connected to the Cooperative Extension System, such as Master Food Preservers and Master Gardeners, are currently state- or county-managed programs affiliated with the land grant universities and the Cooperative Extension Service in the state. In exchange for extensive education, the master volunteer returns contributions to the local Extension office, such as answering phone calls, developing and hosting exhibits, judging at competitions, etc. There are liabilities involved in someone conducting even volunteer work in the name of a state university; therefore, the guidelines and management procedures will vary among states. At this time, the National Center is not in a position to help individuals meet state guidelines for credentials and the title of Master Food Preserver.

If you would like to find out if your state offers this opportunity to become a Master Food Preserver, contact your local Extension Office (usually listed in local government pages of the phone book under Cooperative Extension Service, Ag Extension Office and/or 4-H Office). You could also contact someone at the state university to either ask your questions or let them know of your interest. These contacts can be found on a website managed by USDA:
http://www.csrees.usda.gov/directories/food/index.cfm

Most states do not sell their Master Food Preserver curricula or notebooks to the general public. If someone wants information on preserving, they have other publications available with the actual recommendations and procedures. This website from the National Center is full of “How To” information for various types of food preservation. We will eventually have tutorials and a correspondence type course on line for self-study.

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Can I sell my home-preserved food?
The production and sales of processed foods is governed by state and federal regulations. Each state is different, so proper advice is needed from a specialist in each state. Some states allow sales at farmer's markets of select foods; others prohibit sales altogether. The National Center for Home Food Preservation does NOT provide guidelines to home food preservers who wish to take the next step from home food preservation to commercial food preservation. Home food preservation is not regulated; however, food preservation and processing for commercial purposes is regulated. There are federal level regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (also USDA for meat and poultry products), state level regulations, and often county or city regulations.

Please see our factsheet, Resources for Starting Your Own Preserved Foods Business, for links to additional resources at the federal and state levels.

I have never canned and would like to know if there is any class to take in my area? Is there a magazine?

As a starting point, although it is not a class or personal instruction,  you could take our online course: Preserving Food at Home: A Self-Study. The sign-up is available from our homepage: http://www.homefoodpreservation.com. It is free of cost. 

There is also a lot of information about canning at home on our webpages:  http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html or  http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_home.html and you could browse these pages to familiarize yourself with canning do's and don'ts.
 
We do not have knowledge of any devoted canning magazine or periodical that we would recommend, but, if you need to purchase a hard copy book on canning and other methods of home food preservation, the The University of Georgia sells a book, So Easy to Preserve.  Information about the book and ordering it is available here: www.soeasytopreserve.com
 
There is also a DVD set of how-to videos by the same name, So Easy to Preserve.  They are also described on the website and offer a discussion of principles, equipment and methods, as well as demonstrations of techniques and recipes.  The DVDs do NOT contain the contents of the book, however; they are two items.

For local canning courses, we recommend you contact your local County Cooperative Extension Office.  You can find the contact information for each office in your state by selecting the state name from the drop-down box for the second listing on our Links page (http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/links/links_home.html) - Find Your Local Extension Office.  The staff there should be familiar with offerings, if any, in your area.  
 
Sometimes, a county or a group of counties get together and plan Food Preservation classes through the year or for the Summer. In general, those offered through the Cooperative Extension System would be the ones that should provide the most reliable, science-based recommendations.

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