[Skip to Content]
University of Illinois Extension

Use a Reliable Recipe

Follow Directions Exactly! Reliable recipes have been tested in a lab.

  • They produce the same good results each time
  • Ingredients are measured
  • Cooking times and processing times have been set

Processing Time

  • Each recipe has its own processing time
  • Follow directions carefully!
  • Processing time may differ with the size of the jar
  • Too little processing time can result in spoilage

Canning Without Sugar

  • Sugar does not preserve the fruit; sugar helps fruit hold its shape, color and flavor
  • Splenda® (sucralose) is the only sugar substitute that can be successfully added to replace sugar in fruits and sweet spreads
    • Saccharin sweeteners turn bitter
    • Aspartame sweeteners lose their sweetness

Canning Pickles and Pickled Products

  • Do not alter the amount of vinegar, food or water proportions in a recipe
  • Only use vinegar with 5% acidity
  • Firming agents are not needed for crisp pickles. Soaking cucumbers in ice water for 4 to 5 hours prior to pickling and removing 1/16-inch slice from the blossom end is a safer method for making crisp pickles

Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products

  • All canned tomato recipes must be from an approved recipe (USDA or state cooperative extension service) and followed exactly, or you must submit a recipe to a commercial laboratory to be tested
  • Tomatoes fall on the borderline of being high acid and low acid. You must add acid to tomatoes and tomato products, even when pressure canning. Choose one option:
    • 1 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice (not fresh) per pint or 2 Tablespoons per quart
    • ¼ teaspoon citric acid per pint or ½ teaspoon per quart
    • 2 Tablespoons 5% acidity vinegar per pint or 4 Tablespoons per quart (may have undesirable flavor)
  • Do not can tomato juice in anything larger than a quart jar.
  • DO NOT ALTER SALSA RECIPES!!! Tested recipes from approved sources are required for safe preservation. This includes:
    • Do not change the amount of onions or peppers
    • Do not alter the amounts of acid
    • Do not substitute vinegar for the bottled lemon juice in salsa recipes. You can, however, substitute bottled lemon juice for the vinegar.
    • Do not thicken with flour, cornstarch or other starches
    • You MAY alter or leave out dried spices and herbs
    • You MAY alter the types of onions or peppers but NOT the amount

Resources for a cottage food operation