Thank you for visiting my blog; it is an exciting venture for me and I hope this will become a forum for moms and homemakers of all types to share stories, frustrations, and triumphs. There will be recipes, pictures of my latest and greatest soap creations, and anything I think will be interesting to Enthusiastic Homemakers.....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gerber baby without the Gerber!

This vintage Gerber advertisement made me laugh! I didn't realize my baby was saying "Mm mm for Meat"! I have been making homemade baby food since my first baby, Andrew; but I've always "filled" in with jarred food at times, like Gerber. There's just nothing as convenient as being rushed on a busy morning and grabbing a jar of baby food! And then too, there are some things that, try as I might, just are not possible to make in a home setting without certain equipment. For example, how in the world do the baby food companies create banana puree that is neither stringy nor discolored? I know they add ascorbic or citric acid (just vitamin C) to the mixture to prevent the color from changing, but I have never been able to make such a smooth puree of bananas. I've tried using a food processor, which usually changes even the most stubborn of foods into puree easily; but bananas stay clumpy and stringy no matter how hard I try!  I think they must cook the bananas in some fashion, then liquefy and strain. Needless to say, I often buy jarred bananas. In addition, there are some fruits and vegetables that are not readily available in my area, and any of those varieties that I could purchase would be out-of-season and not the greatest quality. I've given jars of things like mangoes, plums, peaches, and blends of things I don't often (or ever) have on hand, like Mango Risotto. For most other things, and to provide the basics, I make baby food, which always seems more daunting than it really is. Some people like to go the old-fashioned route, and use a baby food maker that works on a hand-crank, but that requires buying the silly thing, and I've never been able to justify the expense. I used to use my good 'ol Kitchen Aid blender, but that meant dragging it and all it's parts, and making a huge quantity of one food at a time; not ideal. A few years ago, I got a small, simple 2 cup food processor, which I love for making salad dressings and chopping garlic; then found it was perfect for whipping up some baby food with a minimum of cleanup. I even have plans to use it when Elvis begins eating more variety; to quickly mash table food. For purees, this is what I do.

Scrub, Peel and chop into chunks harder foods; like root vegetables or apples.

Put into a microwave safe bowl, add a small amount of water and pop in the microwave. Cook in 5 minute increments until soft. Add some of the fruit or vegetable, along with a little of the cooking water to the bowl of the food processor, pulse until pureed; adding water as needed until it reaches desired consistency.

For other foods, like soft fruits, peel by placing in boiling water, then "shocking" in icy water, a process also called blanching, then follow the same procedure as above; although the fruit may be sufficiently cooked by the peeling process, and probably needs less water in the pureeing process.

You can also do this with meats; fair warning, pureed meat is not appetizing, but I have done this by boiling a chicken breast  which is well-trimmed, then pureeing with small amount of cooking liquid, then straining through a strainer. This could also be done with beef, although I don't want to think about boiled beef; but the end product is great mixed with some vegetables or fruit or cereal and given for a "dinner".

After the food is pureed, I spoon it into an empty (clean) ice cube tray, freeze until solid, then pop out the cubes and store in a Ziploc bag in the freezer; well labeled because frozen cubes of food start to look the same after a while, and it would be bad to accidentally give your baby pureed chicken instead of applesauce in his or her morning cereal! It's also a good idea to warn your family members about the ice; James has received a shock a few times when pulling out an ice cube tray for ice for a drink and finding it full of food! He warned me that it's only a matter of time before he serves himself a quite unusual drink!
In this picture; I have made a small batch of applesauce along with a small batch of sweet potatoes, and divided the food into one ice cube tray. I also love to create my own blends of food, by simply putting a cube of two of a few different, complimentary foods (like apples and sweet potatoes) into a bowl, putting it in the microwave on a low setting until thawed, then combining. Of course, you must be careful of "hot spots" when using the microwave; it's best to leave the thawed food out for a while to be sure it has time to cool. None of my babies have ever preferred warmed-up food, and that makes it easier to be sure I'm not going to burn them with hot food.
As you can see, it's very easy and economical to make your own baby food; no special equipment required!


  1. I love making my own baby food too! I did it with Olivia and I'll do it with this one too. I usually buy produce on the weekends and then spend Sunday afternoon making food for the next week or so. This time, I have a small deep freeze so I can make bigger batches of all of his favorites. I did supplement a few things too- basically anything with husks like corn and peas. I used to work at an adult day care center as a cook and I had to puree a lot of foods according to medical safety standards so I got pretty good at it before even getting pregnant! At my job, they always told me to never puree things like noodles or rice because you run the risk of it getting really sticky and pose a choking hazard. I did puree noodles for my baby on occasin, I just cooked them a bit longer, added plenty of sauce/milk and made sure it wasn't grainy at all. It took a while but it was worth it, I think. I often added things like sauce, gravy or breastmilk to the baby food to get the right texture and add flavor. I made the sauces and gravies myself so I didn't add extra salt. I also oven roasted or steamed the veggies and harder fruits since boiling takes so much of the nutrients out of the foods. One of my favorites was peeled apples, oven roasted and pureed. Then, I'd add a little vanilla yogurt and baby cereal to it before serving - yum! I never did figure out how to get the bananas to not be too discolored but she never seemed to mind! :) After about 3 months of homemade food, she couldn't stand the stuff in the jar- except for sweet corn casserole- that was a favorite!

  2. That apple-yogurt-cereal recipe sounds good enough to eat! I'll have to give that a try! Baby Elvis was finnicky in the beginning, and got addicted to Earth's Best cereal blends, but I weaned him off the "sweet stuff" by making my own cereal blend with bananas and adding smaller and smaller portions of the spendy food. Now that he's seven months, and likes more foods, I'm going to "bite the bullet" and stick with homemade, he's almost ready for table food as well; which will be a relief to my grocery budget!

  3. Experimenting with table food was so much fun!! Now, she's 17 months and eats everything in sight- except canned peas! I am looking forward to making baby food again in a few months.

  4. I don't blame her! Canned peas are the worst! It IS fun to try different foods and see what your baby's preferences are; they are such individuals right from the beginning and often I've found that the preferences and taste stick even when they're older (like my finnicky Andrew and my adventurous Bentley).