Today we have a guest post from a friend of mine that I love so much! Lindsay came into my world through a mutual friend – and the funny thing is – we’ve never even met in person! After traveling on a ministry team with our mutual friend, Lindsay became ‘one of the few and the proud.’ She faithfully served in the Marine Corps as a photographer and actually deployed to the same base as my husband. So our relationship grew a little more. Then Lindsay met her husband, who is now a Lieutenant in the USMC, and I’m pretty sure one day we will end up as next door neighbors and drink wine and yell at children on the street. Because that’s how we roll. Lindsay is “granola” and “crunchy.” She’s taught me quite a lot about living simply and being as “eco-friendly” as possible – and as reasonable. We both share a love of being stay at home moms, the occasional alcoholic beverage, and being marine spouses. She is abundantly supportive of her husband’s career and she exudes a quiet, loving Christian spirit that challenges me daily!
Lindsay and I both make homemade baby food, but she steps up her game and cans the fruits she makes! So that whole dilemma of having to figure out how to transport your homemade baby food? Solved. (She will explain in her post – but to reiterate you should ONLY can fruits. Buy the veggies already made for travel. I recommend Plum Organics. My little girl loves their Peas w/ Mint!)
So enjoy this little guest post. She does a lot of awesome things … so expect her back. Thanks again, Lindsay!
I decided to try my hand at canning in preparation for our upcoming cross country move from California to Virginia- yes, you guessed it, we are indeed a military family.
I don’t mind my little girl eating store bought food when need be but I have a hard time giving myself an excuse to not make it myself when I can. It really is simple, cheaper and most importantly it is definitely healthier for my Rosie. So I decided to do what I can to prepare for, at the very least, the first half of our trip by canning.
During our trip we made a stop in my hometown, Knoxville, Tn, where I attended a University of Tennessee Extended Education Canning Class with my mom and sister. I quickly realized that I had made a few pretty scary mistakes my first time canning and am therefore very glad to share my new found knowledge with you.
Now that you know a little about my reasoning for canning let us get down to business. The first and most important thing to know when canning baby food is that you CAN NOT can vegetable puree or anything other than fruit for baby food. Some of you reading this might disagree but I assure you it is not worth the risk of botulism. Many veteran canners will tell you that as long as you seal the jars in a pressure cooker you can in fact puree veggies but I was taught no and in turn refuse to run the risk. There are probably a million different ways to do the things I will show you but this is what works for me! Enjoy and have fun.
You will need:
Glass Jars (I used 4 (4oz) jars with lids and seals)
Fruit (3 (10 oz) bags of frozen fruit
Food processor or blender
Canning bubble popper and measurer
Begin by choosing the fruit you want to can. Fresh is best but Knoxville doesn’t have a big selection of organic fruits so I chose frozen organic mangoes and strawberries (Mixed). It is up to you. If you choose fresh; peel, core, skin and slice whatever you decide to work with and join us back here at step 1.
Turn on your oven to 250. Before you begin prepping the food you want to heat your jars on a cookie sheet laying on their sides open side facing outwards. Leave the jars in the oven until you are ready to fill them and just take one out at a time.
Fill your stockpot with enough water to cover the tops of whatever size jars you have opted to use. Turn it on to boil with the canning rack inside. Canning racks come in all different shapes and sizes. This is what my moms’ looks like.
Heat a small pot of water for your seals. They can stay in there until you need them. Keep in mind that once you heat a seal it can’t be used again.
Begin cooking the fruit you have decided to use. Cook until it is soft enough for your baby to eat it. Add cinnamon if desired. Puree. Add water if needed to maintain the consistency you want. (*Note – I (Kelsea) am not entirely sure if you can can steamed and pureed fruit. I will look into this!)
Place a dish towel or wooden cutting board down on the counter to use as your jar filling area. The glass will be hot and can crack if it touches a cold surface. Use tongs to retrieve a jar from the oven. Place on the towel or cutting board and put the funnel inside of the jar. Scoop your fruit into the jar and use a knife or the bubble popper to release any air inside. The bubble popper will have a ruler edge for you to measure headspace. You want ½ inch headspace for this canning endeavor. Wipe the rim of the jar clean.
Using the magnetic lid lifter, take a seal from the hot water and place on top of the jar. Screw it down with the lid only as tight as it takes to stop spinning.
Now you will repeat Steps 5 and 6 until all of the jars have been filled and fruit is used up. My 3 (10 oz) bags of fruit yielded enough for 4 cans. This is depend on what type of fruit and how much water you put in.
Your big stockpot should be boiling at this point. If it isn’t, wait until it is. Use your jar lifter to lift each jar one at a time straight up and straight back down into the pot and on the rack. The ladies that taught me emphasized the straight up and down portion. I think it has something to do with headspace.
Now all of your jars should be in the boiling water, set your timer for 20 minutes. Every recipe is different but all pureed fruit will be what they call a hot water bath for 20 minutes.
When your timer goes off, turn the stove off but don’t move anything. Set the timer again for 10 minutes and leave it.
Find a spot that you can cool your jars in for 24 hours without needing to be moved. When the second timer goes off, simply use the jar lifter once more and place in a cool dry spot.
After 24 hours they are ready to be moved, stored, eaten, gifted…whatever your heart desires. My canning book does say to heat the fruit up before serving, but being the rebel that I am I skip that step. Seems a bit counter productive to me. The shelf life is 12 months but I bet you they won’t last 1! Enjoy! As you can see canning is really simple. Once you learn the steps it will seem a lot more doable. There are so many free recipes out there for anything you can think of to can. Some cities even have huge canning kitchens that you can just bring your food to and can all day! Who knew? I hope you find the joy in canning as I have, every little bit helps!