Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Baby fruit purees

When Allie first started eating solids, we almost never fed her any store-bought purees (unless we were travelling, that was the only exception). Once she passed the stage of baby rice cereal and mashed banana, I started making a lot of homemade meals for her. Preparing your own baby food has many benefits, among which are:

  • it's so much cheaper than buying it;
  • it's healthier, because the food is always fresh and doesn't have any preservatives in it;
  • you can create your own combinations of ingredients and come up with kinds that don't even exist in a store.

Despite what many busy moms think, it is so easy and quick to make baby food. I mean yeah, it's an extra step and it's going to take a bit more time than opening a store-bought jar, but again, see the benefits above... Plus, the best part is that you can make a large portion of a puree, freeze it in ice-cubes tray and then move your "fruit cubes" to ziplock freezer bags. They will store that way for weeks in a freezer! And next time you want to add something yummy into your baby's oatmeal or rice cereal, just defrost a cube of apple prune puree, stir the mixture into the prepared oatmeal and breakfast is ready!

In this post I am going to focus on fruit combinations and give you a few examples of fruit variations you can make to provide your baby with vitamins and nutrients that are necessary for his/her little growing body.All these recipes can be made for a baby of 12 months and older, but I also gave them to Allie when she was even younger. 

To make any of the below fruit purees you will need:

  • a regular pan with a lid;
  • if you'd rather steam the fruit instead of boiling (more health benefits when steaming), use a steamer basket inside of a pan. I've done  both ways;
  • blender or a food processor;
  • food storage containers;
  • obviously, ingredients;
  • and if you do freeze the leftovers, which I recommend, ice cube trays and freezer bags.

If you go down the road of making your own baby food, it's a great idea to have on hand a few ingredients that you can keep in the pantry without a fear of them spoiling. My favorites are various dried fruit like apricots, prunes, figs, dates and of course, raisins.

When you first start feeding your baby fruit, you shouldn't use fruit combinations right away, that's too much for a little belly. Start with just 1 pureed fruit and a few weeks later once you know that your baby reacted well to certain fruit, you can start mixing them up.

Here are a few ideas for fun and tasty combinations:

Strawberry and fig puree
basic fruit puree preparation:
Place 1 lb of strawberries without stems and 5-7 dried figs in a pan filled with some cold water (it doesn't really matter how much water you use. If you use a lot - you're boiling  if you use a little - then you are steaming. I usually would just have the fruit covered by water). Bring to a boil and simmer with a lid on for about 5 minutes. "Fish" the fruit out with a slotted spoon right into blender and add tiny bit of cooking water. Add more water to achieve the desired consistency. Puree util smooth.

Apple prune puree
Use 4 peeled cored apples and about 10 dried prunes. Follow the same directions as above, but cook a bit longer, about 8 minutes. Puree until smooth.

Peach and apricot puree
Use 4 pitted peaches and 10 dried apricots. Cook in water for about 8 minutes. Puree.

Banana strawberry puree
Cook a pound of stemmed sliced strawberries for about 4 minutes. Add in 2 peeled sliced bananas and cook for another minute. Transfer in a blender and puree.

Pear raisin puree
Cook 4 peeled cored pears and 1/4 cup raisins for 6-7 minutes. Puree.

Those were just a few examples, but it's so fun to experiment and mix up different flavors and combinations: pears and dried apricots; figs and apples; peaches and strawberries; apples and strawberries... 

I hope you have fun cooking and your baby enjoys his or her yummy homemade meals from this youngest age.

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