Ten simple steps to beautiful purees (well, your baby will think they are)
1. Begin by making sure all your cooking utensils and work surfaces are clean: click here to find out more about making your kitchen a germ-free zone. Give the vegetables or fruits you're cooking a good scrub too.
2. Peel and then chop into chunky pieces.
3. You can cook the fruit or veg in a number of ways - steaming, boiling, baking or microwaving. Steaming is the best way to maintain as many nutrients as possible, some of which get lost during the cooking process. If you're only making a small amount, then microwaving saves time. However, if you're making big batches you'll want to steam, boil or bake.
4. Cook until the fruit or veg has softened enough to blend or puree. If you boiled or steamed, keep the water the food was cooked in, as this water will contain some of the nutrients. You can then use this water to add to the food to create the puree.
5. At first you will want to thin the consistency of the purees you're giving, so add a little of the cooking water or another liquid (such as breast or formula milk or cooled boiled water) to the food. Start with just a small amount of liquid and then add more as you puree to get the right consistency. Over the next few weeks you'll want to thicken up the purees by adding less liquid. TIP: Some fruits are more watery than others. Pears blend to a very thin puree and you may need to add very little liquid or none at all. Whereas apples create a much thicker puree.
6. Blend the puree with either a hand whisk, liquidiser, food processor or sieve. For starchy vegetables, such as potato and sweet potato, it's best to use a sieve, as the pureeing process breaks open the starch and can create a glutinous puree. Sieving is harder work, but it will be tastier for your baby.
7. As you're pureeing or blending, you may want to add small amounts of liquid to get to the right consituency. Constantly make the purees thicker and lumpier as you progress through the weeks. A baby weaned for a few weeks on very smooth purees is likely to find it hard to adjust to lumps.
8. If you've made a big batch, you can store it in a freezer. Use ice cube trays so that you can create small cubes of puree. This gives you the flexibility to defrost very small portions. As your baby's appetite increases, you can use more cubes per mealtime. This also gives you a good indication of how much food your baby is eating. If you store some of the puree in the fridge, put it in a sealed container and use within 48 hours.
9. Once the Ice cubes have frozen, push them out (but don't let them start properly defrosting) and then put them in a plastic bag labelled with the food name and date and pop straight back into the freezer.
10. You can keep your frozen food cubes in the freezer for 3 months, although they're more nutritious if you use them within 1 month, as there's less build-up of water crystals. Nutrients can leach out through the water crystals when the food is reheated.
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