Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Baby Food - part 1: bakeable goods

I offered to put in a few cents worth of homemade baby-food-ness here. I have a really hard time with the idea of feeding Sir O anything I wouldn't want to eat myself, so the majority of store-bought baby-food is out of the question. Besides, a little nutritionist bird (at the WIC office) told me that babies that are fed homemade baby food are more likely to like their veggies. Can't say I blame them. I've recently tasted storebought baby food and it's nigh unto repulsive. My stuff, on the other hand.... well let's just say that sometimes I choose to give myself a few tastes while I should be feeding Sir O.....

Here's the skinny, or rather one of three skinnies. Here's the deal with bakeable veggies (as opposed to those that are better steamed, and fruit, with which I basically make the equivalent of applesauce with no sugar or spice...) I have yet to venture into the realm of baby-food-meats. I think I'll just attack whatever I'm eating with one of these.

Works for Potato, Sweet Potato (pictured), Pumpkin, butternut squash, or any squash really....

First comes the baking. For potatoes I scrub really well, then cover in aluminum foil, and place on a center rack in the oven, with another rack with a sheet of foil directly underneath on another rack (sweet potatoes at least tend to leak some carmelized sugars). For the various squashes I cut the squash into manageable sized pieces and de-seed them, then place open-side down on a baking sheet. Bake potatoes at 425 degrees for at least 45 minutes, but until they feel soft when poked. Squashes I bake at 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes, but depending on the amount of mass you have in the oven, it may take longer. Bake until the flesh easily scoops out.

Pull out your trusty food-processor or blender and thank it for the work it is about to do.

Sweet potatoes I have found are really pretty easy to peel after they are baked. I cut them into food-processor-able sized pieces and then pull the skin off as I go, other potatoes may be easier to peel before baking, or if you cleaned the potato well enough, you could really leave the skin on.

Start dumping chunks of cooked veggie into your blender/processor until it gets full enough that the chunks aren't being quickly pulverized. Then take a break and scoop veggie goo from your processor/blender into an ice cube tray. I usually do batches that require 3 ice cube trays at a time. Doesn't render the tray un-useable for regular ice afterward, just wash it well!

After an ice-cube tray is full, level it off with the back of a spoon, and allow to freeze for at least 6 hours. For easy release, turn the ice cube tray over and run hot water over the bottom of it for a few seconds.

I store my baby-food cubes in labeled Ziplock gallon freezer bags. I think I'd be comfortable storing the food in the freezer for up to 3 months, but it never lasts that long.

To serve, I usually place 2-5 cubes in a microwave safe bowl and heat on 1/2 power for 1 minute. If the cubes are still frozen in chunks I will heat in 5 second increments on full power. Don't do longer than 5 seconds, or you may get hot spots. Stir the food well to even out the temperature before feeding it to a Little. Will taste 1000% better than anything you buy in a bottle.

Another helpful tip, Oliver likes banana with his baby-cereal. I peel bananas and cut them into 1/3rds and freeze them, then use one piece each morning, defrost 1 min on 50% power, and the banana turns nice and soft and incorporates perfectly into the cereal. That way I'm not constantly buying bananas and worrying about them going bad.


Deena said...

Thank you thank you thank you! You rock! I better get to work.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Holy cow Em! You are quite the homemaker! Thanks for the baby food advice! Kinley has about 2-3 months to go, but I really think I am going to do my own baby food this time around. It gets so darn expensive in the bottles, and I think they are nasty anyway! Thanks!:)

hairyshoefairy said...

Woohoo! You are my hero! I'm so going to do this. Peanut is okay with the jarred veggies, but I'd just rather give her stuff I'd be willing to eat - real food.

aLi said...

Wowza. I haven't tried doing the homemade thing yet, it just seems like way too much work. But that little birdie you mentioned has convinced me to at LEAST attempt it. As of today and yesterday Conrad will not even eat applesauce because he was ruined by peas and green beans.
I LOVe that you posted your whole process of making them, it's very encouraging.

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