Monday, August 2, 2010

Homemade Baby Food - Applesauce

After a long weekend at work, I came home to discover that I needed to make some more baby food - Wyatt absolutely loves his squash, sweet potatoes, and (?!@#$%) carrots! This time around, I tackled something slightly less orange than my previous endeavors, and since I had yet to make a fruit, I decided that the best one to start with would be apples.

I don't know of a single baby who doesn't love applesauce. There is plenty of home movie footage of me as a baby attacking spoonfuls of the stuff. (I honestly think I had too much of it when I was little; I'm definitely not an applesauce fan anymore!) Applesauce makes for a great first food, is easy to puree, and pairs well with just about anything - we've mixed it into cereal, and combined it with squash and other veggies. (A recent lunch is pictured below - applesauce and carrots!)

Combining foods is a fun way to introduce your baby to new tastes, so long as your child has already had the foods in question before and has not had an allergic reaction. Always introduce new foods one at a time and wait 3-4 days before introducing another food. That way if an allergic reaction occurs, you know which food is the culprit!

I probably would have made applesauce sooner, but Kroger didn't have any organic apples in stock until last week. Apples are one of the EWG's Dirty Dozen, meaning they are one of the twelve fruits and veggies that retain the highest amounts of pesticide residue. (It seems as if these fruits and vegetables have thinner skins than those on the EWG's Clean Fifteen List, which seem to have thicker skins.) Because of this, I decided to wait it out until I could purchase organic apples. While I might not buy organic for myself every time , I'm definitely buying organic for my son, unless the fruit or veggie in question isn't available in organic AND is one of the EWG's Clean Fifteen.

I bought three organic red delicious apples. (Why three? I don't know. I just like the number, I guess.) I removed the stickers, peeled them, removed the cores, and cut them into cubes. And, as always, I had issues with the peeling process. Oh well. I placed the apple pieces into my steamer basket (which I love oh so dearly...) and poured in enough water to barely cover the apples. Once the water started to boil, I turned it down a touch and put the lid on it. While the apples steamed/boiled, I fed Wyatt homemade sweet potatoes. =)

The apples were "cooked until tender" in no time flat. In fact, if Wyatt were a little bit older, cooking them wouldn't even be necessary. Cooking fruits is recommended until your baby reaches 8 months of age; cooking them breaks down the fibers and sugars of raw fruit and eases digestion. After 8 months, baby's tummy is better equipped to handle raw fruits and veggies. Exceptions to this rule are bananas and avocados, which simply need to be mashed very well with a fork and can be given to babies as young as 4 months. No cooking required. (And while Wyatt hasn't tried avocado yet, he loves banana!)

Once the apples cooled, I carefully placed the pieces into my food processor/blender in small batches. (Carefully so as not to cut myself, and in small batches because I learned the hard way with the sweet potatoes that putting everything in the blender at once is not the way to go.) I reserved the water the apples had cooked in and added it as needed to the puree. Since the pieces were very soft, they created a smooth puree in just a few minutes.

Three organic red delicious apples yielded 19 oz, which is a full tray and five more cubes from another. I paid $2.73 for the three apples, so each ounce costs roughly 14 cents. This is by far the least bang for my buck of anything I've made so far, but it is still 11 cents less per ounce than Gerber applesauce that is on sale.

There are a few ways that I could increase my savings - only buy organic apples on sale, buy from farmer's markets, and buy in bulk when I do find a sale. I could also purchase ready made natural applesauce, which has no added anything. However, I don't know if I can find this locally, or if I would actually save money by doing this; I expect it to cost more, though it might be more convenient.

Either way, I still saved money, and I will definitely be making more applesauce in the future. Wyatt likes it way too much for me to ignore it altogether, and it's probably the easiest and least time consuming puree I've made yet.

Next, I believe it's time for me to venture into the land of green veggies. Wyatt's had a couple of encounters with green beans, which resulted in a pretty hilarious face.

Can't wait to see how that turns out!

-Mother Nature Mom

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