Thursday, September 16, 2010

Time Flies and Baby Food


I had no idea FOUR months ago when I asked if anyone was interested in baby food that my sweet Muffin would become mobile shortly after. A mobile baby means NO time to do anything until mobile baby has gone to bed. By the time mobile baby has gone to bed, mobile baby's parents are tired and the only productive things that get done are dinner, laundry and sleep. After I posted my question in May I photographed baby food making...I just never shared the images or the story behind them. I am so sorry about that!

I miss blogging, baking, sewing, painting...but I wouldn't trade those things for the wonderful irreplaceable time I get with this sweet girl every night. How can you say no to this "game face" or those blue blue eyes? Yeah, I don't know how either. Purees are becoming a thing of the past in our house now that Muffin is eating some table foods, soft dices and chunkier mashes. Prep time is getting less and less. Last week she had lasagna, roasted chicken bites and chunks of steamed squash and zucchini. This week she had cubes of watermelon, kiwi dices and soft squares of homemade pizza. She is growing up soooo fast!

observing the baby at the next table- I love her face when she is concentrating
But you promised purees, you say. I did, I did promise purees and I always live up to my promises. So it may be 4 months late, but here is the 411 on purees. I always steam whatever it is that I am pureeing. I found my guidelines on wholesomebabyfood.com. This site is fantastic. It helps break foods down into quarters of the first year and takes the scary out of solids. WBF really helped me plan for what comes next and it allowed me to make baby food in bulk months in advance of each stage so I wasn't scrambling at the last minute. Here is a glympse into what we tried as first solids in months 4-6:
  • banana
  • avocado
  • banana & avocado
  • apples
  • pears
  • peaches/necatrines
  • green beans
  • sweet potatoes
  • butternut squash

The skinny on pureeing is making sure you have all you need set up and ready to go ahead of time. You will need:
  • At least one large pot (I often have 2-3 going at once to make multiple baby food in one baby food making session)
  • Steamer basket (see above- I have 3. They are pretty inexpensive.)
  • Trusty vegetable/potato peeler
  • Nice large cutting board
  • Sharp paring knife
  • Food processor or dependable blender
  • Spoon for spooning purees into containers
  • Containers in which to freeze baby food
Most of the above items are pretty self explanatory, except for the baby food storage containers. I have 4 different kinds. These, these, these and these. Each one has its perks. If your baby goes to school (ahem, daycare) I really like the baby cubes (options 1 & 2) because you can just open the freezer and grab the containers you want to pack for the day. If your baby is at home options 3 & 4 are great. I like option 4 when I want to mix two or three purees together and option 4 has a nice large portion size for things I know Muffin likes- like applesauce and zucchini.

As for labeling them, you can buy special labels which you will see on the photos in this post. However, plain ole transparent tape dog eared on the corner (for easy removal) and a sharpie work just as well and are much cheaper (insert large smile here).

In these pictures you will see green beans, peaches and acorn squash (well, containers of acorn squash). Note- when you are making green beans from fresh unsnapped beans you will need lots of green beans to make much puree. I had a full produce sack and managed to squeeze out 4-6 2 oz. containers. Green beans are a lot of work too. I highly recommend buying the Steamfresh greenbeans which you can find in your grocers freezer. They are already snapped and only contain beans- no salt or preservatives. I always steam them in a glass container. Anyway- I digress....

With most veggies you will want to peel, scoop seeds (if there are any) and chop into large chunks. Fill pot with water just below the steamer basket and steam until the fruit or veggie is fork tender.
Place chunks into blender or food processor and puree to desired consistency. In the beginning you will want these purees smooth until baby grows accustomed to more texture.

There is no need to salt veggies or sweeten fruits. However- as your baby gets older you can experiment with herbs and spices. Muffin LOVES (puffy heart with glitter loves) cinnamon. I put in on apples, peaches or pears mixed with oatmeal for breakfast or on sweet potatoes to mix things up a bit. She also loves garlic, basil, and thyme too.

Once pureed you spoon into baby containers, leave open to allow to cool. Once cool, close containers and freeze. You can freeze for up to 3-4 months. Wholesomebabyfood.come has some good guidelines on storage too. With the ice cube tray storage and beaba storage (options 3 & 4 above) I typically freeze over night and the next day pop the food cubes out and dump them into a ziplock freezer back which I label. Sistema makes some klip-it storage containers that work just as well (but in my opinion take up more valuable freezer room than a zip lock bag).

Oh and bananas and avocados need not be steamed, just mash or puree and go. In the beginning Muffin preferred her foods really smooth so I did a quick puree in my wannabe bullet (mine is Sunbeam and works just fine). Now I can mash them or dice them and she likes them just fine.