Altering canning recipes

It is vital to always use tested recipes when canning to make sure that you end up with a safe home canned product.

Michigan State University Extension receives a wide variety of food preservation questions this time of year. A common question people often ask is: Can I safely alter or change recipes or make up one of my own to can? People especially want to do this with salsa recipes. MSU Extension never recommends changes in research based, tested recipes designed for home canning – at least not any changes that affect the process that safely preserves the food. Improperly home-canned salsas and other tomato-pepper combinations have been linked to botulism poisonings.

When canning, use a tested recipe that is research based, including recipes at the National Center for Food Preservation or from the following:

Ball Blue Book

So Easy to Preserve

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving

When using recipes for salsa do not change the thickness by adding more tomatoes, cornstarch or anything that will change the consistency. Do not add more vegetables or leave out the vinegar or lemon juice. The only changes that you can safely make when canning salsa are:

  • Substitute bottled lemon juice for vinegar
  • Changing the types of dried spices and herbs
  • Changing the amount of spices and herbs
  • Reducing the number of hot peppers and replacing them with the exact same amount of green peppers or onions

The specific recipe and sometimes preparation methods will determine if a salsa can be processed in a boiling water canner or a pressure canner. The process must be scientifically determined for each recipe to be safe.

The National Center for Food Preservation is your source for current research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation. You are going to want to bookmark the site once you are there because it has a wealth of food preservation information, including multiple recipes. All of the information at this site is taken from the Complete Guide to Home Canning and offers important insight about the canning process.

MSU Extension has educators around the state that teach food preservation. If you want to learn the most updated information on preserving summer’s bounty for those cold winter months you can find a workshop to attend through MSU Extension food preservation.