Aug 31, 2007

Making Your Own Baby Food: Hardware

I really enjoy making baby food, in large part because I can introduce my child to foods that just don't come in jars, like cauliflower and red pepper, both of which he's liked. Making your own baby food doesn't require a lot of hardware, but it usually does require a fair amount of time, since it takes a while to soften the food enough for pureeing, milling or processing. Here are the items I think are helpful to have on hand:
  • Steamer: I like my Black & Decker food steamer, but you really don't need a separate appliance. Inexpensive alternatives include a traditional expandable steamer or a metal colander resting in a pot with a couple inches of simmering water.
  • Slow cooker: I love making dinner in my slow cooker, but it's also great for making baby food because I can leave food cooking for a long time - and sometimes foods take a long time to get soft enough for baby (like apples, peas, and prunes).
  • Food mill and/or Food processor and/or Blender: I actually have a large food mill, a 7-cup food processor, a 2-cup electric food mill, a 3-cup mini-chopper, a regular blender, and a hand blender. You definitely don't need all of them to make baby food. I use my food mill for applesauce, corn, peas, green beans, and anything that might have a component that should be removed before being served to baby. I use my large food processor for big batches of squash, carrots, peaches, etc. And I use my electric food mill for things I want to serve fresh, like avocados and bananas. I never reach for my mini-chopper or blenders when I'm making baby food. I would recommend the large food mill over a food processor since foods that can go in the food processor can also go through a food mill. But if you already have a food processor, you may want to consider Kidco's manual food mill. I've never used it myself but I've heard some good things about it.
  • Ice cube trays: Any ice cube trays will do, and they don't have to be specially made for baby food. Trays with covers are convenient if you want to leave the cubes in the tray, but I usually dump them into a labeled zip top freezer bag so I can use the tray for another batch. (I've reviewed Kidco and Fresh Baby trays here and trays from the Container Store here.)
  • Masking tape and a permanent marker: I've included these items in the list to emphasize how important it is to label the food before you freeze it. Trust me, it can be surprisingly difficult to tell peaches and pears apart, not to mention carrots and butternut squash, peas and green beans, and so on. Don't forget to write the date down too, since it's best to use the food up within 30 days or so, and always within 3 months (per I also keep a list on the freezer door of foods that are inside along with the date that I made them so I know what needs to be used up.


Anonymous said...

I love the idea of making baby food, but somehow I see myself too sleep-deprived with a kid to care enough to do so.

I can hardly believe my parents made do without disposable diapers!

ChiefFamilyOfficer said...

@Jonathan - I'm totally with you on the disposable diaper thing but homemade baby food is completely doable! Baby won't start solids until at least four months, probably more like five or six months, so s/he will be sleeping a lot more. And it's very easy to do - all basic techniques like steaming, baking, and stewing.