Tips On Storing And Freezing Homemade Baby Food, As Well As Equipment Needed To Make Homemade Baby Food.
When your baby is ready to start eating solids, making baby food at home is a great option. The money-saving measure puts you 100 percent in control of the quality and content of the food made. Doesn't every parent want to give their children the best and healthiest start? Click here to find out signs that your baby is ready to start solid foods.
Begin with the freshest and best produce you can afford. In summer time, produce directly from the farmers market is a great choice. Then, spend a few hours on one day preparing the baby food and putting up for future use.
Tools for pureeing
There are so many products out there geared towards making the process of making and storing homemade baby food easier. For instance, the Beaba Babycook will stream, blend, warm and even defrost frozen purees. It's a small countertop unit with a two and a half cup bowl. It essentially takes the whole process of making baby food and scales it down into an ultra-easy, handsfree project. But that ease comes with a big pricetag: $149.99. For a unit that will only be used to make baby food for a few months, that doesn't seem like the best use of money.
The truth is that you don't need any of the special devices to get started.
Instead, invest in a food processor, if you don't already have one. A Mini-Food Prep from Cuisinart sells for about $40 and will puree foods with ease in its three-cup bowl. Beyond baby food, you can also use it for grinding spices, chopping foods for cooking and making things like pesto. If you think you will have a long-term use for it, full sized food processors start at about $100. However, you will be forced to cook baby food in larger batches, since the larger bowl capacity means you need more food to make it function properly.
Another option for pureeing is a blender or hand blender (the wand-like devices that can blend directly in normal bowls or pans).
Food mills are a non-electronic option that both puree and strain foods to remove seeds and skins from foods (which is good for early eaters). There are a variety of models marketed to parents for use for kids. With a small capacity and plastic construction though, these aren't for the long haul. However, for use in restaurants and on vacation, this could be an option.
There are also food mills intended for kitchen use that can double as units for making baby food. These are often made of stainless steel and can be used beyond babyfood making for soups, applesauces and butters and more.
Tools for cooking
To prepare most purees, you will need to cook the vegetables (and some fruits). To do so, you will need a pan and a steamer insert (steaming preserves the vitamin in nutrients in foods better than boiling). Both are readily available at retailers like Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Amazon.com. But you needn't purchase new items if you already own these.
Additionally, you may also want a mesh strainer for removing skins and seeds. This is not necessary if you peel produce and remove seeds before cooking, or if you use a food mill for pureeing. Many moms choose to skip the straining step.
Tools for storing
Once the baby food is made, you will need something to store the baby food in. Small plastic containers are one option, such as the GladWare Mini Round containers that hold one-half cup of food each. These are safe for the refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher and even microwave. And they travel well.
Another option is to purchase some ice cube trays and to freeze the purees in cubes. Once frozen, simply transfer to a freezer bag and remove cubes as necessary. Oxo Good Grips even makes an ice cube tray with a cover, so that food isn't exposed while freezing.
There are several options in storage containers and ice cube tray-like containers for freezing and storing foods, however these are not necessary -- particularly since they cost two and three times what regular old containers and trays cost.
Homemade baby food needs refrigeration, so plan on storing yours either in the refrigerator or the freezer. Baby food stored in the refrigerator will keep for two to three days, so be sure that the quantity you make and store in there is appropriate for that time span.
Frozen baby food will keep for three to six months, with foods stored in a deep freezer remaining fresher longer.
It's important to note, however, that some purees are not appropriate for refrigeration and must be consumed on an as-made basis. These include avocado puree and banana puree.
How to freeze
Freezing baby food is a simple process. Here's what you need to do:
- Prepare the baby food by cooking and pureeing.
- Divide the puree into containers or ice cube trays. Try to keep the amounts even, particularly if using ice cube trays. Also, do NOT store in large quantities in a single container, as once defrosted the food must be consumed in 2-3 days.
- Place the containers/trays in the freezer.
- Once frozen, if using ice cube trays, transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe storage bag. It's important that you use a freezer-safe bag because it will prevent frostbite on the food. Frostbitten food should not be eaten.
- Make sure to label all containers and bags with the type of food and the day created.
For more on homemade baby food: