Baby Food Week: The Method

Pretty puree!
Pretty puree!

You’ve dusted off your blender, you’ve overspent on organic produce at the grocery store, now you’re ready to start cooking!  First, assemble your tools:

– A mashing/blending apparatus of choice

– A spatula, tasting spoon, funnel (as I have already said, I prefer to use a breast pump flange)

– A steamer and some roasting pans

– A large measuing cup of water, broth, or another liquid of choice

– Storage containers

– A pen and a label for containers (FYI, I use white masking tape as labels.  No need to get all Martha Stewart when you’re up to your elbows in stinky pureed turnip.  It may look ugly, but it doesn’t fall off in the freezer and it’s inexpensive)

Roasting

Pears, beets, and sweet potatoes getting cozy in the oven
Pears, beets, and sweet potatoes getting cozy in the oven

Steaming baby’s veggies is a faster way to get mushy results, but usually those results have less flavor.  Roasting veggies in the oven will produce maximum tastiness.  The veggies that lend themselves best to roasting are: squashes, beets, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, apples, pears, peaches.

Don't forget to wash the shiznit out of your fresh produce before starting.
Don’t forget to wash the shiznit out of your fresh produce before starting.

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Using a vegetable brush, wash the shiznit out of your fruits and veggies.  Cut off any greens (if they are edible, save them for steaming), roots, tails, knobs, etc.  I don’t peel anything before hand – after roasting for a sufficient amount of time the peel usually come off easily by hand.  Arrange everything in a roasting pan and add about 1/4 of water to the pan.  Pop it in the oven and go about your business.  Check every hour or so to turn the fruits and vegetables and add more water if necessary.  There isn’t really a set time that I can give – just pull them out of the oven and prod them occasionally to see if they are starting to become very soft.

Pears and apples have a nice flavor when roasted
Pears and apples have a nice flavor when roasted

When the roasting is finished allow the pan to cool before handling the food.  Note: sometimes I roast the vegetables the night before and put them in the fridge to prepare the next day.
When everything has cooled down remove the skins by peeling them off with your fingers.  Remove any seeds or stems and chop into large pieces that will fit in your blender.  As you blend, add some water, juice, or broth slowly until you find the right consistency.

Steaming

Don't discard beet greens!  Save them for steaming.
Don’t discard beet greens! Save them for steaming.

The things that I usually steam are spinach, peas, carrots, turnips, beans, beet greens and other greens.  Then, of course, I boil quinoa, rice, barley, and lentils.

After you have washed your produce thoroughly, place everything in a steamer on the stovetop. Steam until the food is nice and soft.  Discard the water that the vegetables are steamed in.  When everything has cooled, puree in the manner that you wish.

Get Creative

Pureeing each ingredient separately makes more dishes to wash later, but it also gives you more freedom to create tasty combinations.  If you plan on adding any spices to the puree, first mix your fruits and vegetables into a combination that baby will like, then add a pinch of spice powder in VERY small amounts and taste after each time you add.  The spice should be just barely noticeable to you.  Baby will certainly notice it!

Store it

If you plan on feeding any of this puree to baby in the next two to three days, set some aside in the refrigerator and put the rest into freezer safe storage.  I prefer to use glass baby food jars that I have saved: they are BPA-free, already pre-measured in the right serving size, and I can easily pop them in the fridge to defrost or take them with me when I am on the go.  Other people have suggested using ice cube trays, ziplock bags (I don’t endorse using Ziplocks.  It may be easier to defrost, but plastic bags are full of icky chemicals and they hurt sea turtles), rinsed yogurt containers, etc.  If using glass baby food jars just make sure you leave about 1/4 of space at the top of the jar because the puree will expand as it freezes.

Label your container with ALL of the ingredients of each puree (including spices and liquids) and with the date.

Use it

It’s easy to defrost your puree overnight in the fridge – just make sure to loosen the lids on glass jars to prevent breakage.  If you need to defrost something quickly, place it in a pan of warm water.  Try to avoid boiling or microwaving to defrost the baby food.

Tomorrow’s topic: Recipes!

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One thought on “Baby Food Week: The Method

  1. […] Roast the pears in the oven until they are soft.  Remove and allow to cool.  Make sure the spinach is washed very well and place in a steamer.  Cook until just wilted (5 minutes or less). When everything has cooled, remove the stems, peel* and seeds from the pears.  Combine cooked pears and spinach in your blending apparatus of choice.  Add 1/4 cup of water or juice.  Blend, adding more liquid if necessary in order to get a good texture. […]

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