I had no doubt I wanted to puree my own baby foods when the time came. I’m not quite sure why, but I was really looking forward to it even during pregnancy. I couldn’t wait! (Is that weird?)
While store-bought jar baby foods are nice, and of course very convenient, the freshness of making your own, combined with its relative ease, makes it something I would highly suggest DIY-ing if you can.
Consider the cost of a bag of baby carrots, apples, zucchini, etc. Not much. Produce is really not very expensive, and you can make a lot of baby food out of one bag of baby carrots, for example! You’ll save a lot, and it will be so much better because there are no preservatives or additives that you don’t want there. Just freeze your purees and you are good to go.
16 oz baby carrots from Walmart= .98c.
16 oz Gerber puree from Walmart = $2.46.
You’ll be adding water to your carrots to purée them, which adds to the weight/ounces you will end up with.
Altogether you’re probably paying 4x as much for the jars, which adds up over time.
But I’ll admit, while I had pureed foods before (because hummus!) I didn’t own and certainly hadn’t ever used a steamer basket. (Just me?) Embarrassing…
Here is what they are:
You use them by sitting them inside a pot with a small amount of water in it. The little feet on the bottom keep your fruits or vegetables from sitting directly in the water. Here’s how to use it. It’s SO easy!
- Add maybe a half-inch of water to your pot.
- Get the water boiling (which won’t take long).
- Add the vegetables or fruit that you want to steam.
- Put the lid on the pot and wait for them to soften.
You don’t need to puree very soft fruits like bananas, avocados, or ripe peaches. Just peel them and puree them as-is. Or you can mash them up with a fork; just make sure to mash really well. Other firmer fruits like apples or mangos should be steamed to soften them up, then pureed.
As for how long to cook different veggies, just know that the firmer the vegetable is originally, the longer it will take to get soften in the steamer.
You can eyeball it, but here are a few typical first stage baby foods with recommended times to get you started;
When they are done, just take them out and puree them in a blender or food processor, making sure to wait if your machine is not made for super hot food.
The typical baby’s first solid food serving size is one ounce. I use these freezer trays by OXO to make handy one-ounce cubes. (When baby is older, you can find trays that hold larger servings.) To easily remove the cubes from this type of tray, twist the trays side-to-side like you would to loosen ice, then instead of dumping them out, lightly press down on one end of each cube to make it swoop up on the other end. Then just pick it up!
After the puree cubes are frozen, I just pop them out and put them into labelled Ziploc freezer bags and keep them tucked neatly in the freezer. (Sometimes I get fancy and draw a little coordinating vegetable on them.)
These keep well in the freezer for up to three months. They may start to crystalize a little after that. I like to make enough for the next few weeks, so I put mine directly into the freezer, but you could keep some puree in the fridge for the next few days if you wanted to.
You can let your frozen baby food cubes thaw in the refrigerator, or warm them in the microwave. Just mix them really well and don’t overheat them. For a cube of peas, (in my microwave) it only takes a little over 30 seconds. For fruits, it only takes about 20 seconds. Just watch them. Microwaves can cause hot spots, so mix them really well afterwards and make sure they are cool enough before feeding baby.
Soon your baby will be ready for two or more ounces of food, so at that point, as long as you have already introduced each food separately and know there are no allergies, you can pull two different cubes and mix them together for a flavor combo. Exciting!
I like to mix apple and sweet potato, or avocado and banana.
You can also warm up a fruit and stir in a little baby oatmeal, or do the same with a veggie and some baby rice.
Homemade baby food purees will be good and fresh in the freezer for 3 months. They will still be safe to eat at 6 months or so, but of course fresher if you use them sooner.
I hope you enjoy making your own baby food! It’s so rewarding. If your little one enjoys a particular puree, feel free to share it with other mamas below.