Saturday, May 30, 2009

Baby Food-Making Equipment

Now that you're convinced about making your own baby food, where do you start?

It's actually really easy and not unlike a usual cooking routine. First of all, you will need some equipment, most of which you probably already have. Here is a list, in no particular order:

1. Peeler/Corer
  • It is usually a good idea to peel your fruits and vegetables for babies who are just beginning to eat solids. This will ensure that the consistency is smooth enough for your young baby to eat. Once your baby starts eating thicker purees, you can try adding the peels. It is true that the peels of fruits and vegetables contain fiber and nutrients. A corer is also great to have for coring various fruits.

2. Knives

  • You will be chopping most of your fruits and vegetables to make it easier to puree them.
3. Steamer
  • One of the best ways to prepare food is by steaming. A stand-alone steamer (I use a rice cooker/steamer combo) or a steamer pot used on the stove are great tools. However, there are other ways of cooking that can be used if you don't have a steamer. A steamer/rice cooker combo is also really handy to use when cooking rice to make rice cereal because most are automatic and will shut off on their own so you can do other things during the cooking process and don't have to rush back to the pot. Or try this all-in-one baby food maker: Beaba Babycook!
4. Baggies/Reusable Containers
  • Baggies are great to use in the freezer. We use gallon-size and quart-sized bags. Make sure to buy baggies specifically made for the freezer to prevent freezer burn (although, my food is never in the freezer long enough to get this!). You can also use small, glass jars to store food in (think commercial baby food-sized jars), or you can use plastic containers to store the "food cubes." Whichever you choose, make sure to label your containers/baggies with the date the food was made and the contents.
5. Ice Cube/Baby Food Trays
  • You can purchase specially-made ice cube trays that come with lids. These are nice because the lid (usually) prevents ice crystals from forming on the top of the food and also keeps your food from tasting like whatever else is in your freezer (meat is notorious for this!). Fresh Baby makes a great tray that are approximately one-ounce cubes; these can be ordered from the internet and sometimes found in special baby stores. Another option for a larger serving size is KidCo's Babysteps Freezer Storage Tray, in two-ounce size cubes, available at Toys "R" Us/Babies "R" Us (thanks to my sister-in-law for finding it for me!). Both of these particular tray brands are BPA/Phthalate Free and made from FDA-approved food-safe plastic (see here, last paragraph, about this concern). I have not seen these items at the large discount stores.
  • If you do choose to use regular ice-cube trays, make sure NOT to use tin foil to cover them to ensure that no bits of foil get into the food (since it tears so easily). Use plastic wrap, instead (Press and Seal works great!).

6. Food Processor/Blender/Food Mill

  • For small jobs, you could just use a fork to mash up the food, and add a little water or breast milk/formula to achieve the desired consistency, if needed. But for larger jobs, such as a pound of carrots, a food processor or blender saves a lot of time. These work great for pureeing. Another option is to get a food mill. These come in both hand-cranked (as the link shows) and electronic models. I do not own one but have heard very good things about them, especially for traveling and single-serve uses (the model above has a 4-ounce serving cup). A food mill would be handy to crank out baby food alongside your meal so baby can eat with you.
  • All-in-one baby food makers exist, such as the aforementioned Beaba Babycook, which looks really neat and can also be used to warm food (although, if you are making a lot of food, this might take more time since it may be smaller than your steamer and food processor!).

7. Freezer

  • A stand-alone deep freeze works best, but you can also use a refrigerator-freezer combo. Food kept in a deep freeze will afford you more room in your normal freezer, and at times food will keep longer in a deep freeze. You will have more storage room in a stand-alone freezer also, and can make larger batches of food. But any freezer will do!

That's about it! Of course, you may need things like bowls, flatware, spatulas, oven-safe bake ware for roasting, and pots and pans.

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