Homemade puree stash.
|February 27, 2010||Posted by Mabel under Food & Recipes, Info, Little Tastebuds, Weaning|
Yes, those are Eva’s food-related stash. There is her toy stash as well but that’s for another day.
Anyway, I thought I’d take a picture of some of the homemade purees that I’ve been busy churning out since Eva start solid food. Seen here are purees made with organic apricot, organic asparagus, mango, sweet peas, spinach and sweet cherries.
The process is quite simple – you’ll need something to freeze the purees – either ice cube trays or special baby food cubes – and then equipment to steam and then blend/mash the food items you’re cooking up. With ice cube trays, you’ll have to make sure that you cover them while as they are freezing to avoid cross contamination. This is one of the reasons why I chose to freeze the purees in baby cubes and storage containers meant for weaning. Baby cubes come with an attached lid, making them hard to lose and best of it, they have measurements on the side – 70ml (2 oz) and 35ml (1 oz).
For the blending and steaming, you don’t have to get a special gadget (unless someone gave it to you as a gift as in my case). You can opt for those bamboo steamers and stainless steel bowls to steam your fruit and veg in – they are cheap and easy to fit in a wok. For blending, a regular blending or chopper will do just fine; just make sure to wash them well if you intend on using them for other purposes. Handblenders are great option as you can use them for making western soups and most mummies will even use them on congee and porridges! Babies don’t need to eat pureed food forever so consider this when you’re thinking of making a sizeable purpose of kitchen equipment.
With preparation of fruits and vegetable, be sure to wash them a few times to get rid of the excess dirt and sand (particularly common with leafy veg like spinach) or pesticide (fruits like cherries, apples, etc). After washing, fruits and veg need to be roughly diced up into manageable pieces. The rule is this – the bigger it is, the longer it’ll take to cook. So cubing vegetable and fruits especially tough ones like pumpkin, potato, sweet potato and carrots are definitely a most. Do note that some fruits need to be peeled such as peaches. Fruits usually take about five minutes of steaming – steaming is important because of all the cooking methods, it is the one that helps retain most of the food’s nutrients plus you can use the excess water in the pureeing process (with the exception of spinach and carrots because of the nitrate content) – while vegetables can take anywhere between 10-15 minutes depending on the item.
How to know if your vegetable is cooked? When it’s soft. Take a fork and pierce the vegetable. If it’s easy for the prongs to sink it, it’s cook. If not, steam it for a little longer. When they are done, blend them with a blender or food processor. How smooth depends on not so much the age but how long your baby has been on solid food. Babies who started solid food early may develop a preference for lumpier textures earlier than babies who have just begun solid food – logic, really. The general rule is to introduce lumpier and SOFT textures sometime nearing the eight month when they are used to eating from a spoon, familiar with smooth texture and are ready to take their jaws to the next step.
Honestly, making homemade purees is not hard or tedious. I usually make a large batch of purees at night or during the weekend and freeze them. In total, including cooking time, it probably takes me less than 30 minutes to prepare these items, cook them and “bag” them. Then whenever I need them, I just take some down to thaw in the fridge. That requires more planning and foresight than actually making the purees. Or maybe it’s just me. Sometimes when I have too many empty baby cubes lying around, my mind starts to fill with all sorts of things that I’d like to cook up for Eva.
The one thing I love about homemade baby food is that I can ensure that the quality of the food is up to par, and that there are no added additives and flavouring. Everything is as natural as can be. Now ain’t that awesome?