Baby Food Week: The Tools

My favorite puree tools: Magic Bullet, Blender, ricer, breast pump flange (!) baby food jars
My favorite puree tools: Magic Bullet, Blender, ricer, breast pump flange (!) baby food jars

Now that Søren is starting to eat more sophisticated foods, like Cheerios and the occasional piece of lint from the living room floor, I am finally getting around to writing about puree for babies. Homemade baby food is a great way to help your baby learn to appreciate fresh, nutritious food.  You can control the ingredients if you are worried about sugar, salt, and allergens.

There is also the cost.  A jar of baby food doesn’t seem very expensive.  They run about 75 cents to $1 per jar, but when your baby eats 9 jars of food every day, seven days a week it adds up.  Five jars of sweet potatoes costs about $5.20, but one sweet potato costs $1.50/ pound, and you can make at least 7 jars of sweet potatoes from just 1 whole sweet potato.

You may save money, but you will have to make an investment in time.  So, tie on an apron, turn on some good tunes (or a podcast), assemble your vegetables and tools, and prepare to give your baby a wonderful gift.  First, let’s talk about the tools you will need.

The Automatic Baby Food Maker

http://www.amazon.com/Beaba-Babycook-Baby-Food-Maker/dp/B001LQCOIS/ref=sr_1_1?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1358743540&sr=1-1&keywords=beaba
Sleek, sexy…the Cadillac of baby food makers. The Baeba, available on Amazon.com – $119

When I was pregnant and on bedrest I shopped online constantly and salivated over the cute, green Beaba Baby Food Maker.  It cooks, mashes, warms, and gives you a back rub all at the same time.  I wanted to acquire it and proudly display its BPA-free splendor on my countertop, so everyone who came to my house would know that I was a chic, modern mom who made her own baby food. Great as it is, I am only having one baby, I am already in possession of more appliances than I need, and by not buying the Beaba, I am still in possession of the $120 that I didnt’ spend on a device that I will only use for 6 months. However, for people who work a lot, plan on having more than one child, or don’t want to deal with the mess of using a blender, this could be a great option

Blender or Food Processor

Good ol' big red
Good ol’ big red, recently retired from making margaritas

The blender works well for stage 1 and 2 purees for babies under 9 months old.  Because of its short blade I find that I need to add a lot of water in order to ensure that the food blends properly, so blender purees are smoother, but somewhat soupy. I think if I had a more expensive blender, like a Vitamix, I could achieve better results.  Perhaps a food processor would also work better, but my food processor and I have a strained relationship and I prefer to let it mope in the kitchen cupboard.

The Magic Bullet

Magic Bullet
Magic Bullet

We got this useful little blender as a wedding gift.  The bullet is nice now that my son is 9 months old because I can quickly puree the same food that I eat with minimal mess.  I have never tried using it to make large amounts of baby food.

The Ricer

Potato ricer
My burly right ‘ricer arm’ balances out my muscled left ‘clutch foot’ nicely

Want one of your arms look like its competing in an Olympic weight lifting competition?  Get yourself a hand-cranked ricer.  The ricer makes denser purees and can be an awful lot of work, but if you’re strapped for cash its a inexpensive masher (I bought mine at a thrift store for $5).  It works wonders for many vegetables, but there were some that I have difficulty processing, including peas, steamed broccoli, and spinach.  It’s great for starchy and soft foods, like potatoes, squash, and carrots.

Breast Pump Flange

The flange.  It's not just for boobies.
The flange. It’s not just for boobies.

You read that correctly, if you have any of those leftover cone bra boobie milker thingies from your breast pump it makes an ideal funnel to transfer the puree from the blender into a jar with minimal mess.  Traditional narrow funnels don’t handle baby food puree well.

Make sure that you have everything you need on hand so you can work quickly and cleanly.  In addition to your blending tool of choice, have a rubber spatula, a spoon for tasting, your jars or storage containers, a clean cutting board, and a paring knife set out in easy reach.  To prep your area, wash your countertops down.  I also recommend filling your sink with hot, soapy water so you can quickly clean out your blender and spatula between batches, and you can soak bowls and utensils (some starchy purees can be really hard to scrub off after they have dried).

Tomorrow’s topic: picking out foods to prepare.

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