Monday, June 6, 2011

Homemade Baby Food

I decided long before Abe was born that he would be getting homemade baby food once he started on solids. When I planted my garden I made sure to include carrots, corn, green beans, and other vegetables I thought a baby might enjoy. It turned out to be much easier than I expected and the finished purees taste like fresh fruits and vegetables! Definitely better than the overcooked, over-processed mush I remember...and did I mention, cheaper?

So here are my basic tips and instructions for making baby food from scratch:

1. Clean, peel, and chop your fruits or vegetables. It's fine to leave the skins on for added vitamins and fiber, but I peeled anything in the Dirty Dozen unless it was organic or came from my own garden.


2. There are a few different cooking methods to choose from. For the most part I simmered fruits, steamed vegetables, and roasted sweet potatoes and squash.

To simmer: Place chopped fruit into a small pot or saucepan and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. (You can simmer juicy fruits like pears and plums without water.) Cover and cook over low heat until soft (less than 5 minutes for most fruits). Reserve juice to thin puree if needed.


To steam: Place vegetables in a steamer set over boiling water. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Reserve cooking water to thin puree if needed.

To roast: Preheat oven to 400° F. Spread the chopped vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Roast until the vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. 

3. Transfer the cooked fruits or vegetables to a small pot and, using a stick blender, puree until smooth. (You can also use a regular blender or food processor for this step.) 


4. If needed, push the puree through a sieve with a rubber spatula, then add reserved juice or water to thin the puree to the desired consistency. 


5. Spoon puree into ice cube trays (I used these ones from Oxo) and freeze immediately.


6. Once frozen, transfer cubes to freezer-safe storage bags, label, and return to the freezer.


7. Thaw individual portions in the refrigerator overnight, or heat in the microwave on high for about 30 seconds. Let cool completely before serving.


A few additional tips:

Avocados & Bananas - it's probably easier to just mash up a fresh avocado or banana but, if you have some that are overripe or leftover, they do freeze well. Thaw in the refrigerator and stir before serving. They will be a bit discolored but are still fine to eat.

Berries - Skip the prep work by using frozen berries! 

Meats - Cook meat however you would normally make it, then grind with blender or food processor adding water to make a thick paste. My son wasn't crazy about meat on it's own, but when I mixed it with vegetables he loved it.

Prunes - I used Sunsweet's new D'Noir Prunes which are preservative free. Absolutely amazing. (Yes, even I ate this puree!) Completely cover with water before simmering. The cooked prunes are super thick when blended, so you'll probably end up adding most of the water back into this puree.


I had fun picking out different fruits and vegetables for Abe to try, and he really seemed to like them all. Once he had tried them each on their own I started mixing them with other purees and new ingredients. A few that went over really well: sweet potato + plums, apples + squash, corn + potatoes + turkey, carrots + peas + corn, apples + cinnamon, broccoli + cheese, avocado + yogurt, and potatoes + cheese + beef. I also mixed rice or multi grain cereal with the vegetable purees, and usually served him oatmeal mixed with fruit or berries for breakfast. 

Most babies get to a point where they don't want to be spoon fed anymore, and it's pretty hard to eat purees with your fingers. Try mixing leftover pureed vegetables with pasta, putting a spoonful on soft crackers, or serving as a dip with finger foods. Fruits and berries are a great addition to oatmeal, yogurt, or mixed with sparking water for a healthy soda!

34 comments:

  1. Thank you for the tips. I've been reading up on some for my 6 month old, but these are really clear, concise and helpful. Thanks!

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  2. I just saw the picture on Pinterest. I love making my twin girls baby food also. Soooo easy and so much cheaper too. I started a blog on it too but I'm always curious how other people do it. Very cool.

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  3. i also make my son his baby food (this too was something that i've always wanted to do well before i was pregnant!) i love picking up fresh fruit and veggies and making new concoctions for him!

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  4. You can always use a rice cooker to steam the veggies or fruit. Saves a lot time and stove space.

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  5. Looks great! I'm just starting to make some baby food for my daughter. I have a few already made and in the freezer, but i was looking for some more ideas! Thanks for sharing!

    Willa

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  6. I use breast milk instead of water to purée. Adds a familiar taste & nutrients too!

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  7. I'm with you. I decided that I'm not feeding my future babies pre-packed baby foods. It's much healthier and easier to just puree the food we're having and feed it to baby. My mom used to just throw whatever the family was having for dinner into a food processor and give to the baby - that way he/she gets used to some of the middle eastern flavors at a young age. I love your idea of freezing the portions. However, is it safe to feed babies microwave-defrosted food? I'll probably stay away from that if I can. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  8. I usually just pulled out what I thought I'd need the night before, then stuck them in the fridge so they'd be ready in the morning. If you forget or don't want to defrost them in the fridge, you can mix them with a little warm water or breast milk.

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  9. This is exactly how I made mine...my kids never had a jar of processed baby food...only homemade and organic. They are now 8 and 10.

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  10. How long would this keep in the freezer?

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    1. Most of the books and articles I've read say 3-6 months. If you store them in a separate freezer (that doesn't get opened 10 times a day) they'll last longer. It seemed like my son only ate purees for a few months, so I didn't really have to worry about them sitting in the freezer for too long. Check out this website for more information about storing baby food: wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/FreezePage.htm

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  11. I really found very interesting about these topic because you have good content and unique thoughts on writing.So this might be useful to every one.I really look forward some more updates.Thanks for sharing.

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  12. How did you know when your son no longer needed purees but was ready for other things? Did you continue making separate things for him or did you just give him whatever you were eating for dinner?

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    1. I added less and less liquid to thin them out. Once he was able to eat thicker purees, we started giving him soft foods like bananas and really ripe pears. We let him eat whatever we were having as long as it wasn't too spicy. He especially loved rice and pasta!

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  13. Hi Michelle -

    We'd LOVE to share this with our followers on Best-Baby Sites! If you don't mind, I'd like to use a few of your images (with credit given) as well as link back to your site for my followers to read your full tutorial. You have a GREAT resources here and we'd love the opportunity to share it! Have a great day!

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    1. Of course, Christine! Thanks for asking first. :-)

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  14. i LOVE your blog. found it via this link on pintrest, keep up the good work!

    Angie in Austin, TX

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  15. Very helpful tips- thanks for sharing!

    Are you able to do the same cook, purée and freeze method for meats and grains as well? Thx!

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  16. I am making my son who is 9mo now his own food. I got sick of giving him the Gerber stuff and tired of the shopping bill! So I did it! Spent the afternoon and I steamed all veggies and fruits. He loves it!! I enjoy it too! I feel guilty I didn't do this for my first son. I just need more ice cube trays! Thanks again your post pushed me into feeding my baby some wholesome food!!

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  17. Wonderful Idea, but to go to all that effort to kill it with a microwave is not a good idea..

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    1. If you don't want to use the microwave to quick thaw, pop the cubes into a small baggie and set it in a bowl of warm water. They will thaw pretty quick.

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  18. Don't forget about the baby food mill. It's easy, convenient, mobile and cheap

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  19. Microwaves kill all of the nutrients in food... probably best to avoid that part :(

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  20. Very good idea but using those disposable freezer bags seems unnecessary if you're inclined to consider the environment and/or want to avoid unnecessary on-going costs... freezer-safe re-usable containers and such are the way to go.

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  21. Loved your blog!! Keep on updating about baby food..

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  22. I have made fresh puree's for my daughter since she was 6 months, they are so easy and healthy to make! I agree that you don't want to thaw the food in a microwave. It will kill all of the nutrients and they will essentially be eating store bought baby food. I use an egg poacher to thaw my purees. The food is put in an metal tray that is held over boiling water. you can buy them online. It only takes 8 minutes to thaw. I also reuse the freezer bags over and over for frozen purees. It cuts down on cost and waste.

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  23. Do you just use one cube per serving?

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    1. Depends on your child. I usually thawed 2-3 cubes for each meal. My son ate more as he got older, less when he first started on solids. You can also mix different fruits and vegetables together if you're using more than one cube per serving.

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  24. What kind of cheese did you use with the broccoli?

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  25. Did you peel your apples before simmering? What about the green bean skin, any trouble with that? Great post, very helpful!

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    1. You can peel the apples but you don't have to. I just left the beans. The skin gets soft when you cook it so you can just blend it up with the rest.

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