One of the added benefits to having babies in the Fall is that the six month, time to introduce solid food milestone hits just as our vegetable production ramps up. And what kind of homesteader/foodie would I be if I served Marie anything but homegrown, homemade baby food?
Making baby food is very easy. Even easier than going to the store and just buying it. I promise. You don’t even have to do step one, you can just grab something from your CSA box or, yes, purchase vegetables at the store. See, I’m being flexible! But also, you could totally plant a patch of carrots and smile with satisfaction every time your four year old proudly brandishes a carrot he “grew by my own self.”
Step One: Plant some carrots, water, weed and wait a couple of weeks. Tah-dah!
Step 2: Harvest/Wash your bounty.
Step 3: Peel those babies!
For babies between 6 and 9 months, I tend to peel everything; carrots, peaches, even use a food mill on peas to remove the skins. Once babe hits about 9 months, her digestive system is better equipped to break down the extra fiber in the skin. But before then, instead of all that fiber helping with the, eh, elimination process, it can actually bind things up quite a bit in that department. And few things are grumpier and less likely to nap than a constipated baby.
Step 4: Chop away!
Even sized pieces are key, because then everything cooks, you guessed it, evenly.
Step 5: Steam ‘Em.
I don’t own a proper steaming basket, so I stick a colander over a saucepan and that does the trick. Again for those first three months on solids, I tend to steam most vegetables to preserve as many vitamins as possible (even though only trace amounts leach out into the cooking liquid when you boil it). After that, I often roast vegetables because, let’s be honest here, it’s usually more delicious. When a 7 month old is given the choice of pureed steamed carrots or nothing, she will eat the carrots. But that same child four months later is now able to eat such amazing foods as cheese or meat, meaning I need to bring my A game so the vegetables have a fighting chance at winning the dinner war.
You just want to steam your veg until tender, no need to pretend like it’s 1950 and cook them to death.
Step 6: Into the Food Processor with you!
Blend until completely smooth. You want the texture to be like a really thick soup, but not thick like mashed potatoes. Even if your kid has teeth, she has no idea how to employ them, so it needs to be slurp-able, but not so watery it will slosh off the spoon. Thin out the mixture using water, breast milk or formula. I tend to use breast milk, at least for that first month on solids, as maybe having a familiar flavor helps make the transition go more smoothly? No idea if that’s even remotely true.
Step 7: For the truly compulsive only, break out your fine chinois
I only do this for the first month on solids, I promise. Even my crazy has limits. But, like I said about peeling veg, that extra fiber can be a bit much on the stomach, so I press my purees through a fine chinois strainer. The same tool you’d use to make the most velvety butternut squash soup. This step kinda sucks, I’m not gonna lie. But it is also most likely completely unneccsary, so decide how much sleep you got last night vs. how indulgent your OCD is feeling and proceed as you see fit.
Step 8: Packaging!
I love love love these little containers called BabyCubes, probably because the lids are attached so I cannot possible lose them. Also, they are BPA free, and a bit more travel friendly than the ice cube tray method of freezing baby food.
So while right now you are all, “Wait, that was an 8 step process, I thought you said this was going to be easy?” Well look at what just happened? That not even quarter pound of carrots turned into a full week’s worth of baby food. I’ve had one large sweet potato make two weeks of food. So yes, it’s one hour a week, but then you are done! Well, until you clean up your kitchen which maybe now looks a little bit like this…