Solid Foods – Making, Storing and Serving

I’ve been planning out how to make purees for Paige for months now. Painstakingly researching pureeing, freezing and serving methods as well as which spoons, bowls, and the pieces of kitchen equipment I would need to achieve the desire results. All of my research came to a head yesterday when we dove into making Paige’s first foods – avocados, sweet potatoes, green beans, and pears are the first four we’re going to give a whirl.

I’m going to break down how I make and store each food I’ve made in hopes that when someone out there in internet land sees how easy it is, they’ll give it a spin too.

First of all… I had decided that I didn’t want to buy any special baby food making equipment. You can spend a chunk of change on a “baby food maker” but I knew I Wanted to make and freeze in bulk so the appeal of a small machine (aka – a mini food processor), didn’t do it for me.  On top of that, I’m obsessed with kitchen gadgets so I already own a food processor, immersion stick blender, potato ricer, pots & pans, cookie sheets, vegetable peeler and a steamer basket. I figured I could get everything done with these tools and if I couldn’t, I’d reassess and see if I needed to pick anything else up. I made 4 different purees yesterday and didn’t find myself wishing I had any other piece of equipment so I’d say that we have a good set up.

As far as storing the purees, I am using ice cube trays from Target that have 1 ounce openings – the perfect size for purees.  I scoop the puree into the tray using a cookie scoop that is 1 ounce in size. You could certainly just use a regular flatware spoon but I’m slightly ridiculous and like things to measure exactly ;)

After the tray is full, I bang it on the counter a bit to get the purees to settle, throw some aluminum foil on top, and pop them into the freezer to harden up. Please ignore the Edy’s ice cream that is front and center… ;)

Once the cubes are hardened, I dump them into labeled quart size freezer bags like so…

Now onto prepping and cooking!

First up – Avocados

This is the first food we’ll try with Paige.  It’s creamy and mild and doesn’t need to be cooked to serve.  I’d read some folks having issues with browning once the avocado meat is exposed to the air but so far, my cubes are still a nice green color.  

I scooped the flesh of the avocado into the food processor, turned it on, and let it do its thing. I let it go until it was fully pureed and it was almost a mousse like consistency.  As Paige gets older, we’ll be able to control the chunkiness of the food by pureeing for less time in the processor.  When we first start, we’ll probably have to thin this puree with a bit of formula, as it did turn out thick, but airy.  I found myself wanting to lick the bowl after I was done scooping it into the trays.  2 avocados yielded 12 1-ounce servings. 

Next up… Pears

(I forgot to take a picture of my baking pears – Boo!)

After we get through (hopefully successfully!) avocado, we’ll try pears.  I’d read how some folks boiled their pears but I didn’t want to loose any of the nutrients to the water so I decided to bake them.  I peeled and cored the pears and laid them cut side down on an aluminum lined cookie sheet and baked for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  They came out soft enough to toss into the food processor and puree down to a nice, manageable consistency. 3 pears yielded 10 1-ounce servings.

On to… Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods – a food that’s good for you and delicious?  Sign me up!  I followed the same idea of baking with these but didn’t peel ahead of time.  I baked them, skin on, at 350 degrees for 65 minutes.  Once cooled, the skin peels away nicely and I just dumped the flesh into the food processor.  Once again, I let the machine do it’s think and I ended up with a nice, smooth puree.  2 large sweet potatoes yielded 21 1-ounce servings. 

Rounding out the first four foods… Green Beans 

I bought a half a pound of fresh green beans, broke off the end and decided to break out the steamer basket for them.  I steamed them in a sauce pot with the basket for approximately 20 minutes until they were soft and pliable.  I dumped the beans into the trusty food processor and let it go.  This food took the longest to break down, probably due to the skins, needing some help along with way of a spatula digging down in to move things around.  I ended up with a puree that is smooth but has more texture than the others. 1/2 pound of green beans yielded 7 1-ounce servings.

One more thing… Serving the food is probably of importance so let me share with you how we’ll go about doing that…

Because we are freezing in cubes and storing in freezer bags, we’ll get a cube (or cubes when the time comes!) out the night before and place it into a small glass bowl with a lid and into the refrigerator to thaw overnight.  We don’t like to reheat our food in plastic containers (again, we can be a little tree hugger-esq) so these little bowls are perfect for thawing and then heating foods like the sweet potatoes and green beans.  When it comes time to actually feed Paige, we’ll transfer the puree into one of the many types of baby bowls we own and spoon feed from there.  We literally have 4 different types of bowls and 3 different types of spoons to try so I’m sure we’ll have an opinion on what we like as time goes on.  

So far, making baby food is a breeze and we love knowing exactly what Paige is eating.  And economically, it is cheaper for us.  I spent $8.60 on the produce I needed yesterday and that made me 50 cubes.  Because we’ll be doing 1 cube per meal for a bit, that works out to $0.17 per meal.  Not so shabby.

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