The other day a friend of mine gave me a tip that you can obtain an entire case of bananas from most Wal-Marts in the nation simply by contacting the Produce Manager and asking them to take their old bananas off of their hands. The standard cost is only $5! There are instances in which some of the Wal-Marts have elected to donate their used produce to Food Banks or other community help centers, but it’s certainly doable a lot of the time in many areas of the U.S. Regardless of how you feel about Wal-Mart, you can still call up the other grocery stores and ask them if you can take old produce off of their hands. Yup, there's all kinds of FREE food for the taking among those who exercise some initiative.
Now, what would you want with a bunch of old produce from the grocery stores? Well you can can it, of course. *grin* And yes, this also applies to bananas.
My dear friend, Debbie C., first introduced me to canning bananas when she was on a crazy canning bananas binge. I love hearing from her because she’s always pushing herself to discover new ways to ensure independence in her kitchen. (Yup, now you know why I like her so much.) Anyway, I had never heard of canning bananas. So I checked with my always reliable resource, Jackie Clay of Backwoods Home Magazine and sure enough, she’s discussed this topic too. I also found other major food manufacturers addressing it as well. Cool! Whoda thunk it? I’ve just been stocking up on freeze-dried bananas and banana chips. Obviously, paying a few bucks for a case of bananas is a heck of a lot better deal than a #10 can from Augason Farms for banana chips. So I’m all in favor of embracing this method—especially since it can be done just with a water bath instead of pressure canning. (Water bath canning is almost as easy as “FoodSaver canning” in my opinion.)
How can you use canned bananas? Lots of great ways. Pancakes, banana syrup, cakes, muffins, bread, smoothie sweetener and flavors, and it also makes a delicious frozen treat if you’ve got access to that in a crisis scenario.
Anyway, here are the article including the instructions on canning bananas that Debbie has given me as well as what she’s observed over the years.
Canning Bananas by Debbie C.
With the revived interest in canning these days, grandma's pressure cooker has been rescued from the cellar, mason jars that have been stored up in the attic for years have been uncovered, and old cookbooks that had been stuffed in the back of closets have been dusted off and read. People are rediscovering the possibilities of canning and realizing the worth of putting up foods that don't require electricity to store. Everything from corn and beans to meats and stews are successfully being canned. There is one item that very few people realize is can-able. (I'm not quite certain that is a word, but it should be!) That item would be bananas!
I came into a windfall of bananas a few years ago and wondered what in the world I was going to do with them! I had recently bought half a cow and had that stuffed in my freezer, so I couldn't fit any bananas in there. There are only so many bananas that a person can eat before they go bad and your kitchen is full of fruit flies; dehydrated bananas stick in my teeth; so, I decided to can them. Think about it, you can buy canned bananas in baby food, right? So why not?
Bananas are not commonly grown in the U.S. so it’s not likely that a person can just grow them in their backyard or their indoor aquaponics system. In a disaster scenario, bananas will be difficult to find but I happen to love bananas! I love banana bread, banana pancakes, banana smoothies, banana in my oatmeal, and in my yogurt—just to name a few ways I eat them. So, canning bananas just makes sense to me, and it's extremely easy to do! Here are the steps that I use:
1. First mash your bananas. Bananas are a very dense food so it is necessary to mash them and make certain that they are heated through. I use a blender to mash mine, but a potato masher or a food processor would work as well. Just be certain that the bananas are well mashed and there are not many large clumps left.
2. Pour the mashed bananas into a large pot along with citric acid or lemon juice. I put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or 1 teaspoon of citric acid per quart to prevent browning and to add acidity.
3. Heat the mixture on medium high heat and stir frequently. You’re going to want to heat them to the point just before the mixture starts to boil. (Since it’s a dense mixture, you’ll have some “popping” of the mixture. This is the time that you really want to be sure to stir the mixture so that you distribute the heat equally throughout the mix.
4. Pour the mixture into unquestionably clean, sterilized, hot jars. Fill the jars of choice leaving a half inch head on them from the top of the jar. Top them with clean, sterilized lids and screw the rings on to “fingertip tight”.
5. Water bathe quart jars for 15 minutes and pints for 10 minutes. (I prefer to use pints as that amount is more realistic for my other recipes in which I would use the bananas.)
I have had no problems using the canned bananas. The only issue that I have had is that the longer they are kept, some browning does occur at the top of the jar. I usually take off the really brown portion off of the top of the jar and discard it just like I would a brown spot on a banana. Also, when the jars have been stored for a couple of years, some separation does occur with liquid forming on the bottom of the jar. I simply stir the mixture together and use as normal.
Obviously, you can also dehydrate the excess produce that you get your hands on. I’ll be getting some peaches this week and some apples and pears next month. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Pear Butter recipe. I can use it on toast, pancakes or in oatmeal but I can also use it as a base for delicious barbeque sauces and as a refreshing topping for ice cream or a creamy rice pudding. It’s also great for a Pear Bisque recipe I make. Heaven! It’s that much better when you consider that I make it in a slow cooker without ANY peeling, slicing or any other timely prep steps. All I do is pull off the stems and cut out any obvious bruised areas and Voila! Delicious! Here’s the Pear Butter recipe I use. I know you’ll enjoy it!
Kellene's Pear Butter
- 9 red or green Bartlett pears with the stems and obvious brusing removed. (I cut them in half sometimes, but that’s it.)
- 1 cup pear cider (it’s a lot like the non-alcoholic apple cider but so much better. But in a pinch, I’ve used the powdered Apple Juice that I purchase in #10 cans from Augason Farms. You can use Apple Cider instead, but the Pear Cider is distinct in its taste and flavors.)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon mace
Directions: Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. (Yes, you could make this on the stove top, but why would you want to? Splattering, constantly babysitting it for many hours? AND when you use the slow heat like you get in the slow cooker, you get a different taste because when sugars are broken down slowly, they simply taste different, richer, in my opinion. Besides, with a slow cooker, your whole house will smell DEE-VINE!)
Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Uncover and cook on low for an additional 10-12 hours or until is roughly your desired thickness and most of the liquid has evaporated. Allow to cool completely then pour into the food processor and puree. Pour into clean glass jars. Refrigerate for up to 2 months OR can it for long-term preservation.
To can the Pear Butter, be sure you begin with clean, sterilized, hot jars and lids. Pour the Pear Butter mixture while it’s still hot into your chosen jars leaving ¼ to ½ inch from the top. Be sure to wipe any spilled pear butter of the top. Place the lids on and then tighten the ring around them to “fingertip tight”. Put them in the canner and keep them covered with at least 1 inch of water and boiling. Process/water bath the pint jars for 5 minutes and quart jars for 10 min. (For high altitude canning, refer to your manufacturer’s instructions.)