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Dear Editor–

I’ve recently started making my own baby food. I’ve read on your site that it’s possible to can baby food. How does one can bananas?

Kay

 

Dear Kay,

You can process and can bananas, and I can see maybe doing a few jars for those times you’re taking the baby out and need to carry some jarred food with you. Except in those cases though, I have to ask why you’d want to go through the trouble of all that prep and work when bananas are available pretty much all year round and smashing them up is not that difficult.

Bananas have a pH level of about 4.5 to 5.2 and therefore cannot be safely canned in the water bath process. They are just not acidic enough according to USDA guidelines for other fruits and vegetables. The problem with finding adequate instructions for canning bananas is that there are no hard and fast rules out there from trusted authorities on processing them. I have searched and searched and cannot find bananas mentioned by name in any publication or any guidelines for just simply canning them up into jars.

That being said, we can treat them like a low-acid food and preserve them that way, as a fruit puree. Now granted, the original recipe I’m citing here does give instructions for water bath canning and does not specifically exclude bananas. Again, however, I cannot find adequate information at the time to support that they can be water bath canned safely so I’m just going to include the recipe for pressure canning.

The University of Georgia and the USDA gives the following recipe for make fruit puree:

Important: These recommendations should not be used with figs, tomatoes, cantaloupe and other melons, papaya, ripe mango or coconut. There are no home canning recommendations available for purees of these products.

Procedure: Stem, wash, drain, peel, and remove pits if necessary. Measure fruit into large saucepan, crushing slightly if desired. Add 1 cup hot water for each quart of fruit. Cook slowly until fruit is soft, stirring frequently. Press through sieve or food mill. If desired for flavor, add sugar to taste. Reheat pulp to boil or until sugar dissolves, if added. Fill hot into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process.

Processing Times: Pints or quarts, 8 minutes at the following poundages and altitudes:

0-2,000 feet:  6 minutes

2,000 – 4,000 feet:  7 minutes

4,000 – 6,000 feet:  8 minutes

6,000 – 8,000 feet:  9 minutes

I hope this helps!

The Editor

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The following letter is from our Saturday columnist, Bob Whitten. Thank you, Bob, for this wonderful, inspiring letter!
Dear Editor:

If you watched the Republican Convention, maybe you caught Clint Eastwood’s speech. I did, and although I didn’t agree with everything he said, a few of his words struck a chord with me. Towards the end of his seemingly scatterbrained rant, he said something to the effect of, “We are Americans and we own this country.” It seems ironic to me that the more we evolve as a country, the more we are losing control.

Our ancestors had control. Even through the depression, we seemed to still retain ownership of our nation. We, as a people, returned to our roots, living off the land, and bartering for what we could not grow. We, as a people, realized that spending more than we earned brought on this depression. We, as a people, took control, and soon our nation was whole again. Soon, our nation was strong again. We grew as a nation when we went back to the things that made this United States of America the best country in the world.

My father and his generation taught us to work hard and live within our means. Then we, the Baby Boomers took over and things were very good for us because of the way the generation before us lived. But we wanted more and better for our children. It’s a natural thing to want our children to have a better life than we had. But, in reflection, we forgot the basic rules. We forgot what our parents had taught us and we just gave our children the good things. They didn’t have to work for things and in return, they didn’t appreciate these things. And when our children got out in the world, if they couldn’t have everything they wanted, they borrowed. They bargained away their future, I’m afraid. Without knowing it, we Baby Boomers set our children up for a fall and now it seems our children will pay the price for our mistakes, even if they came from the heart.

This great nation of ours seems to be spinning into an abyss. Our means of transportation are certainly in trouble. Our food source is being taken over by big corporations after nothing more than making money. Our financial system is a house of cards, just waiting for the wind to blow. So, where do we go from here?

I can tell you what my wife and I did. We are not rocket scientists. We just saw this coming a dozen years ago, and we decided to roll up our sleeves and do something about it. In 2000 we purchased an acre of land with a small, fixer-upper home within our means. We both held good jobs. We quit buying new cars and funneled that money into paying the house off quickly. I fished and hunted for our food and we used that savings to purchase things that would help us build our little farmette into a self-supporting piece of land. We planted fruit trees, we built raised gardens in our low, water-saturated ground, and we put up a small greenhouse to extend our growing season.

Last year, 10 years into our plan, we paid off our house. At that point, I quit my job. My wife continued to work and we kept tucking money away. I kept our two vehicles up, maintaining and overhauling them when necessary. We are both in our early fifties and we still have one child at home. We chose not to homeschool, opting instead to “double up” my son’s education here at home. My youngest is 12 now and he reads many books each week. His passion for reading is insatiable. Add to that, he spends time on his computer, although we channel his activities into learning about how technology can be beneficial. Around here we use computers as a tool to inform and educate us. If technology and computers are going to be a part of our future, I want my youngest child to be ahead of that curve. It has become another source of income for me and I am sure my son will find a way to make it pay off also.

We grow everything from apples to okra and what we cannot eat, we can or freeze. What we can’t freeze, we sell out of a small roadside stand in front of our house. Our plan is for my wife to continue working on a part-time basis until our youngest son is out of the house, and then we will both become full-time gardeners. Her passion is growing herbs. We have been starting host plants for the last two years and I have sold fresh herbs to the local markets, but we will continue to learn and this will be one of our main sources of income in the future. I am a carpenter, so I will use my trade to build knick-knacks and furniture to sell out front of the house at our roadside stand. We will do wind studies this year and hope to put up a small wind generator on the hill. We will also purchase a solar power unit soon, hoping to reach our goal of getting “off the grid.”

Is this life for everyone? I think it could be. We might just be forced to become self-sufficient if we see another depression, so why not be ready? We continue to embrace technology, but we are not dependent on today’s ways. I think we have found a way to meld both the new and the old.

It’s never too late to change. We are just regular people and we are doing it. If you become committed to a dream, set goals, and follow through, there is no stopping you.

Sincerely,
Bob and Christine Whitten

 

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