It was with great anticipation that I awaited the day my youngest son turned 6 months. It wasn't because I wanted to do what this dad did to a candle to celebrate his 'half-a-birthday' (okay, I admit I actually wanted to, I just forgot about it). Neither was it because I was hoping he'd officially enter the 'older baby' phase and hopefully sleep for longer stretches at night. Not even because I was looking forward to a breastfeeding milestone.
Nope, none of those glorious things compared to my excitement about... introducing solid food!
When I was pregnant with him, my husband got me Alain Ducasse's Cooking for Kids. I read the recipes with delight for the same reason I gobbled up my broccoli the 9 months he was in my belly: I was determined to do everything to reduce his pickiness.
Leafing through the pages, enamoured with the photography, I dreamt of puréeing steamed carrots, roasted pumpkins, and simmered apples.. Yes, I'm weird like that. It's really only because my older kids have not quite developed a taste for the stuff I love, which forces my meal plans to be less diverse. I've read many articles correlating a baby's exposure to flavors while in the womb with their food preferences later in life. My Alain Ducasse book was a reassurance that I could totally take steps to influence his tastes very early on. It's an inspiring book to have on a mother's shelf, despite the fact I've used very few of the recipes so far (which is another story for another time).
It has now been several weeks since his first spoonful of blended vegetable and milk, and I've introduced quite a few things by now. However, there is one baby food that tops the list for its convenience and my son's acceptance of it: applesauce.
Naturally sweet, high in fiber, and with a texture you can adapt to your baby's age, homemade applesauce makes for a great 'real food' option for babies as young as 6 months. My son loves it and we have a batch in the fridge at all times.
The fact it's made with only apples and water means that it can be stored in the fridge for relatively longer than purées containing milk. Applesauce keeps very well in the fridge for about a week, and roughly 3 times longer if frozen. These are conservative estimates for applesauce intended as baby food; it can, in fact, last longer. Solely for purposes of safety, any applesauce older than a week I only use for baking. It's a great substitute to some of the fat in baked goods and is what I frequently use to 'healthify' a breakfast muffin and our favorite carrot cake.
After reading several blog posts and baby nutrition resources, I've come up with a recipe for it. The recipe is very forgiving that it's more a guideline than a recipe.
The usual ratio I use is one tart apple to two sweeter ones of roughly the same sizes.
While I was brought up to eat the skin on my guavas and cucumbers because that's where most of the nutrients are, I make sure to peel the apples that I use. Apples have the most pesticide residues than any other fruit or vegetable. It tops the list of foods to buy organic, but in the Philippines, organic apples are pretty difficult to find. I've read people saying to include the peel because the pectin in them will make your applesauce even better, but I've passed up on this recommendation in favor of peace of mind. After all, the reason I make homemade baby food is to try and feed my son as much healthy stuff as possible.
Chop your peeled apples and put them in a saucepan with a scant cup of water and simmer for about 20-25 minutes..
And either mash it up with the back of your wooden spoon for chunkier applesauce, or cool it a little bit and transfer to a blender to achieve your desired texture. I use a hand blender and purée it right on the saucepan for about 1-2 minutes.
Cool before feeding to baby..
He can't talk yet, so his willingness to eat suffices to say he likes it! Three heaping tablespoons in his bowl...
...and the rest goes in 2 jars, one goes in the freezer and one in the fridge to be finished in 3-4 meals within the week.
- Preparation Time 15 minutes
- Cooking Time 20-30 minutes
- Difficulty Easy
- Yield about 2 cups
- 2 Granny Smith apples
- 4 sweet cooking apples, like Red Delicious, Gala or Fuji
- scant cup of water or apple juice
- sterilized jars
- Peel, core and chop apples.
- Place chopped apples in a deep saucepan with a scant cup of water or apple juice.
- Bring to a boil then immediately lower the heat to bring the mixture to a low simmer. Leave to cook and soften for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from heat, cool a little and transfer to a blender to achieve desired texture. For chunky applesauce, use a potato masher or a fork to mash the mix in the saucepan.
- Test on your lip to check the temperature before feeding to baby.
- Cool the rest of the mixture before spooning into the sterilized jars.
- If freezing, don't fill the jars completely; the mixture expands a little bit during freezing and this can break the jar.
- Keep in the fridge only the amount of applesauce your baby can finish in 7 days, freeze the rest for safety and economy.
When you feel your baby is ready, you can experiment by adding spices and combining this applesauce with other flavors. A classic combo is apple and cinnamon; you can also try nutmeg and allspice (think apple pie!). As of this writing, I've only tried vanilla beans, only because I don't care much for apple and cinnamon, but I'll give it a shot anyway, as I shouldn't impose my preferences on my child, should I? :)
What about you, what baby food is a hit with your kids? Share with me in the comments, or tag your photos on Instagram with the hashtag #pinayworkingmom, I'd love to regram and share it with others, too!