It’s possible to can your own baby food, but just the fruit.
Now that August is here, and we are smack dab in the middle of the busy canning season, you may be wondering, “can I can my own baby food?”
The short answer is “yes” but there are caveats:
- The only SAFE home canned baby foods are fruits, and
- Even then, not all fruits are SAFE
Best Fruits for Baby Food
The best fruits for baby food are mild fruits that are pureed without seeds. For example; peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, apples, pears and any combination of these fruits. Sometimes cherries are added to apples or peaches, but you seldom see cherry puree alone.
Fruits Not Suitable for Baby Food
There are no safe home processing procedures for many fruits. Therefore, DO NOT can homemade baby food puree that is made of; fig, melons, papaya, mango or coconut. Bananas should also be avoided as their pH fluctuates and their density makes them unsuitable for a canned product. As you might expect, tomato puree also falls into this category, along with all other vegetable purees.
How to Can Baby Food Fruit Puree
- Peel and pit fruit
- Crush fruit slightly and add 1 cup of water to every 4 cups of crushed fruit
- Cook over medium heat until fruit is soft. Mash or puree fruit.
- Return fruit puree to saucepan. Reheat until puree comes to a boil.
- Pack into clean half or quarter pint jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace.
- Remove air bubbles. Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes. You can find step by step canner directions here.
How to Serve Homemade Canned Baby Food
Before serving home canned fruit puree:
- Bring the puree to a boil
- Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes
- Cool before serving
- Store leftover puree in the refrigerator for up to 2 days
Is There an Easier Way?
Whew. That seems like a lot of work when all you want is to serve your baby real food! Luckily there is an easier way, actually a few easier ways:
1. Follow steps 1-4 above. Instead of processing the fruit puree in a water bath canner, freeze the jars of puree.
2. Instead of canning fruit puree, can fruit and puree it before serving to baby. You may want to can your fruit in apple juice or water instead of sugar syrup. We don’t want to fill baby up with sugar!
3. Freeze fruit and cook and puree it before serving to baby.
No matter which method you choose keep these “truths” in mind:
- Yes, you can make your own baby food.
- Only fruit purees can safely be canned for baby food. No meats, no veggies, no dairy, etc. Just fruit.
- This may be one situation where you choose to use your freezer instead of your canner.
Do you have other canning questions? The Confident Canner – Answers to Your Canning Questions is here to help!
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Baby food information, canning and serving directions from So Easy to Preserve, 5th edition, University of Georgia Cooperative Extention.