Sunday, December 21, 2008

How to Make Your Own Baby Food

Making your own baby food seems like a daunting task, but really it is simpler than it seems. The key is knowing the consistancy your baby will need. If you are making baby food for a 4-6 month old it needs to be quite thin with no lumps whatsoever. An older infant, could be fed a smooth, thicker version, and one the age of Snugglebug around 9 or 10 months will be ready for a few lumps to test out those new teeth. A good rule of thumb for determining the consistancy of your purees will be to make your foods the same consistancy as your cereals.

So, without further ado...On to the kitchen...

Step 1--You can use either fresh fruits and vegetables or frozen. My preference is to use fresh when it is in season and frozen when it is not. For frozen items cook according to package directions. For fresh vegies, peel and chop in rough chunks. Place them in a pot and cover with water. Cook until fork tender.

Do not add salt, sugar, or seasonings to the vegies. Keep them plain until you know what allergies your child may have. And remember to introduce the seasonings one at a time just like your solid foods to determine any allergies.

Tip--For older infants you can also roast vegies such as winter squash, just make sure you scrape off the carmelized portions, since it won't puree smooth. Also if you want to keep the vitamins from leaching into the water, you can steam you vegies. It just takes a little longer to cook.

Step 2--Place the fruits or vegies in a food processor along with a spoonful or two of the water and juices from the pot. This will help the vegies to puree smoothly. Pulse the machine a few times to see if you need to add more water. Remember, the younger the infant the more water will need to be added. If you get it too thin you can always add cereal to thicken it later. Once pureed spoon or pour mixture into a bowl and stir with a spoon. You are checking the consistancy. If it still seems too thick or chunky add it back to the food processor and pulse again a few more times.

Step 3--Your baby food is either ready to serve or preserve. I'm not an expert in canning, so I suggest freezing, and if your child eats like my Snugglebug, it won't last long in the freezer anyway.
The best way to freeze baby food is in ice trays. Fresh Baby makes an ice tray with a snap on lid that is especially designed for freezing baby food. I have two trays, and they work well. Unfortunately, after a few dozen uses the lid doesn't snap on tight and tends to come off far too easily. And since my favorite thing to do is to multi-task, I turn to standard ice trays. The standard trays stack nicely in the freezer, and it is easy to remove the cubes for storage.

Each cube of a Baby Fresh tray or a standard ice tray is equivalent to one ounce and hold approximately 12 cubes or 12 ounces of baby food. Depending on your type of fruit or vegie you get 1 1/2 to 2 trays per pound of fresh or frozen vegies.

Step 4--To store the cubes, run a little hot water over the bottom of the trays, then turn out the trays on a clean plate. Place the cubes in a marked freezer storage bag of your choice and place in the freezer. You now have baby food at your fingertips.

Step 5--To serve, thaw the total number of cubes in a microwavable bowl for 30 seconds to 1 minutes (depending on microwave wattage) on 50 percent power. Stir and microwave again for the same length and power.

I have an older microwave and it usually takes two minutes at 50 percent power to completely thaw and warm the vegies. If you overheat the cubes, then stir with an ice cube for a couple of seconds.
Happy Eating!!

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