Whew. I have spent the past week or so catching up on making baby food. This tends to happen, since I make a bunch at once, and then (of course) run out of several things at once, so I need to replace it all and/or add some new things. This time was a little bit of both. At last count, I made:
- Butternut squash
- Sugar snap peas
- Summer squash
- White peach
- Sweet potatoes
I’m sure there was more, but I’m forgetting. Like I said, it was an extravaganza. Done over the course of a week, it wasn’t all that much, but still, I’m ready for a break from baby food for a little while!
Favorite new recipe: Pears baked with vanilla and cinnamon. This is probably Nora’s favorite food ever. She opens her mouth soooooo wide for each bite. I tried it too, since it smelled so awesome baking in the oven, and they are tasty! Just peel and core 3-4 pears, place them in a baking dish with about an inch of water, sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon and a few small drops of vanilla extract, bake in a 350° oven until tender, and purée. Yum!
Revelation that I wish had come sooner: A good blender is much easier than a food processor as a tool for making purées. As long as you have a good, sturdy blender and you aren’t trying to purée something too tricky, it’s a snap, and a much easier option for pouring into freezer trays.
Pretty though it may be, kiwi was not a hit. I gave it to Nora for the first time at lunch today, and she clearly was not a fan. To her credit, she did try a few bites before turning up her nose. Oh well — try again later!
Since I am now ever-so-experienced, I’ll offer a few tips for the newbie baby chef….
Freezing and Storing: I like to freeze in these Green Sprouts trays. They’re silicone, which makes it easy to twist and bend them to pop the cubes out for storage. I have three of them, and that’s usually plenty for the amount I make at one time. Once the cubes are frozen, I pop them out and store them in labeled and dated Ziploc freezer bags.
Thawing: I have never really been organized enough to get the next day’s food cubes out and transfer them to the fridge to thaw. I tend to decide on the fly what a meal will be anyway, so I just microwave the frozen cubes. A minute or two (depending on how much you are heating) on 50% power usually does the trick. I’ll usually start with a minute and then test at intervals. If you’re going to do this, make sure to stir well to avoid hot spots, and test the temperature before serving.
Cooking: Generally I either steam or bake fruits and veggies before puréeing. Banana and kiwi don’t need to be cooked. Bananas can brown a bit, so you can add a drop or two of lemon juice to the batch to help keep this from happening (although it doesn’t affect the safety or taste).
Fun fact: I HATE bananas. Loathe them. Even the smell makes me gag. The fact that I will deal with them because my child likes them is a testament to how head-over-heels in love with her I am.
Anyway. In general, fruits like peaches, plums, apples, nectarines and pears can be baked in a 350° oven for 30 minutes to an hour in a baking pan filled with about an inch of water. Bake until the fruit is soft and the skin starts to pucker. Once cooled, the skin should come off easily, and you can use the liquid to thin the purée, if needed. Veggies like green beans, snap peas, squash and peas can be steamed until tender and then puréed, again, using the steaming liquid to thin if needed.
Quick tip: Trader Joe’s has a good (though erratic) selection of organic bagged veggies that in some cases are already pre-peeled and chopped, and some of them even steam in the bag in the microwave. Makes making baby food a snap! I especially love it when they have butternut squash, since it can be a pain to prep.