Preserving Food With Less Sodium

HYG-5358
Family and Consumer Sciences
Date: 
06/06/2016
Christine Kendle, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences
Katharine Shumaker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences 

Whether by personal choice or due to special dietary needs, many people are looking for ways to reduce their sodium intake. Commercially prepared food suitable for special meal plans can be costly due to slightly different production procedures. Preserving food at home can be a practical way to save money, even when reducing sodium, if fresh produce and the necessary equipment are available.

Options for Reducing Sodium
Freezing

Foods frozen at home typically have no salt added during preparation, making them an excellent choice for reduced-sodium dietary needs. Add salt, reduced-sodium salts or salt substitutes at serving time, if desired.

Canning

Salt can be safely omitted from home canned vegetables, meats, poultry and fish. Use the same processing times as for conventionally canned foods.

In these foods, the amount of salt in the recipe (1–3 teaspoons per jar) is used to enhance flavor. This small amount of salt does not provide any preservative benefit.

If using a salt substitute, wait to add it until serving the product. Salt substitutes often contain ingredients that may develop an unpleasant aftertaste if added before processing due to the high heat from the canning process.

Herbs and spices are often used to enhance flavor without using salt. When canning, it is recommended that you add these seasonings after opening the canned product for use, as their flavor may change due to time and heat during the canning process.

Pickling

Salt concentrations should not be changed in pickle recipes. Reduced-sodium salts such as “Lite Salt™” may be used in quick-process pickle 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 and other ingredients.

Reduced-Sodium Sliced Sweet Pickles
Home-canner wiping rim of canning jar before adding sealing lid and ring band.
Brining Solution

4 pounds (3- to 4-inch) pickling cucumbers
1 quart distilled white vinegar (5 percent)
1 tablespoon canning or pickling salt
1 tablespoon mustard seed
½ cup sugar

Canning Solution

1⅔ cups distilled white vinegar (5 percent)
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon whole allspice
2¼ teaspoon celery seed

Yield: 4 to 5 pints

  1. Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard. Cut cucumbers into ¼-inch slices.
  2. Combine all ingredients for canning solution in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep canning solution hot until used.
  3. In a large kettle, mix ingredients for brining solution. Add the cut cucumbers, cover and simmer until cucumbers change color from bright to dull green (about 5 to 7 minutes). Drain the cucumber slices.
  4. Fill pint jars and cover with hot canning solution. Remove air bubbles, leaving ½-inch headspace.
  5. Adjust lids and process pint jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner (at altitudes of 1,001–6,000 feet, increase process time to 15 minutes).

Nutrition Information (¼-cup serving): 88 calories, 23 g carbohydrate, 195 mg sodium

Reduced-Sodium Sliced Dill Pickles

4 lbs (3- to 5-inch) pickling cucumbers
6 cups vinegar (5 percent)
6 cups sugar
2 tablespoons canning or pickling salt
1½ teaspoons celery seed
1½ teaspoons mustard seed
2 large onions, thinly sliced
8 heads fresh dill

Yield: About 8 pints

  1. Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard. Cut cucumbers in ¼-inch slices.
  2. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, celery, and mustard seeds in large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and keep pickling solution hot until used.
  3. Place 2 slices of onion and ½ dill head on bottom of each pint jar. Fill jars with cucumber slices, leaving ½-inch headspace. Add 1 slice of onion and ½ dill head on top.
  4. Pour hot pickling solution over cucumbers, leaving ¼-inch headspace.
  5. Adjust lids and process pint jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner (at altitudes of 1,001–6,000 feet, increase process time to 20 minutes).

Nutrition Information (¼-cup serving): 81 calories, 20 g carbohydrate, 220 mg sodium

References
  • Andress, E., and J. Harrison. So Easy to Preserve. 6th ed. Athens: The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, 2014.
  • United States Department of Agriculture. Complete Guide to Home Canning, Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539. 2009.

Updated 2008 by Christine Kendle, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences; Daniel Remley, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences; and Katharine Shumaker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences.
Originally authored by Marcia Jess, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, retired.

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