Let’s face it, even the best organic baby food on the market is still not as good as buying local, or growing your own. It should come as no surprise that homegrown and home prepared trumps the factory processing and synthetic fortifying of the store bought baby foods. Not to mention the sheer waste and chemical footprint left behind by the packaging of baby foods. In America alone, the baby food industry pulls in about $1.25 billion a year, while simultaneously filling landfills with 2 billion empty baby food jars and packages. Take the fact that the lids of baby food jars, along with the other clever packaging, leach BPA into the food and you should now be ready to get onboard the DIY baby food train.
Making your own baby food is a fun and rewarding experience. With the proper knowledge you can streamline the process and make baby food like a professional.
First things first, nutrition. Remember you are making your own baby food because you want your baby to have the healthiest and most vitamin packed food possible. This starts with buying or growing wholesome organic, or beyond organic foods. Buying or growing the best foods is crucial, but keeping the nutrients in is also key. Removing all of the nutrients in the food by overcooking is to be avoided at all costs.
Important rule: only cook at a temperature that will soften the food, not boil the nutrients out; slowly bring the temperature up and then let it level out while softening the food. There are a myriad of online resources and recipes for making your own baby food. So what we’ll cover here are some basics.
1. The nutrients will cook out into the water no matter what, so to add them back to the baby food, pour some of the liquid into the food processor as you go. This will also tend to soften up the food a bit; pureed sweat potatoes with no water could be a bit too tough for young baby to swallow.
2. If you are going to use apples or pears, remember that many of the minerals and vitamins are contained in, or lie just below the skin, so it is best to cook these with the skin on. A $25 food mill is a great investment to separate the cooked apples or pears from their unpalatable and difficult to chew parts later, while still allowing the fruit to cook in its own nutrient dense liquid.
3. Purchasing about a dozen ice cube trays will allow you to cook a large amount at a time. There are stainless and silicone versions of ice cube trays available to avoid any potential BPA exposure.
4. A good food processor goes a long way. Make sure you have one that can handle the heat of the freshly cooked food and will puree it all without leaving behind chunks for baby to gag on.
5. The speed filler. This part is fun, it will make you feel like a 1 person factory. Allow the food to cool and then pour the pureed food into a storage bag and cut the corner off on one side to allow for a decent flow of food. Pinch the hole shut until you are ready to start and get ready. See attached video for an example. After they are all filled, lightly drop the ice try up and down to smooth out the cube, and remove the air bubbles.
Freeze quickly and immediately remove from ice cube trays to avoid freezer burn. Your newly made baby food will keep in a freezer bag for up to six months. With the proper planning and timing you can make all the food your baby will need in just a few fun packed family nights in the kitchen. As an added bonus the cost of making your own baby food is much less than purchasing it, especially if you can grow it!
By Matt Agorist, REALfarmacy.com