How do I freeze baby food?
Expert guide on how to safely freeze food for your baby, plus how to defrost and reheat it
4 steps to freezing baby food
- Use ice cube trays or small food pots, which have been washed at a high temperature.
- Add the food into the trays or pots. Put the ice cube tray in a plastic bag. Remember that food will expand as it freezes, so don't overfill and leave enough space if you're freezing in sealed pot.
- Label everything, with the name of the food and the date of freezing. "Frozen stewed apple looks much the same as frozen asparagus soup," warns registered nutritionist Jo Travers, "or mealtimes end up like Russian roulette! Write on the date of freezing so you know when it needs to be eaten by."
- Put your food on the top shelf or as high up as possible. This helps to maintain the texture of the food better, as the top is usually the coldest part of the freezer, and so freezes more quickly.
Why and how do I use ice cube trays?
"Freezing baby food in ice cube trays allows you to defrost the small amounts your baby needs, when you need it," says nutritionist Jo Travers.
Flexible ice cube trays rather than solid ones are easier when popping out the frozen cubes.
Once they're fully frozen, quickly pop them all out onto a very clean surface. If you find they won't budge from the ice cube tray, run the back of the tray under cold water.
Place the cubes you want to keep (as long as they're still completely frozen) into a labelled plastic bag and return to the freezer.
How long can I keep food in the freezer for?
- Cooked vegetable purees: 6-8 months
- Cooked fruit purees: 6-8 months
- Beef and lamb: 4-6 months
- Poultry: 4-6 months
- White fish (cod, haddock etc): 6-8 months
- Oily fish (salmon, tuna etc): 3-4 months
- Sliced bacon and sausages: 2-3 months
- Soups and sauces: 3 months
- Bread: 2-3 months
3 things you need to know about freezing safely
- There’s no need to sterilise containers once your baby is 6 months as long as they haven’t had contact (or contained) milk products - but do make sure they’re clean
- Check that your freezer is at the right temperature (below -18°C)
- Cool food before putting it in your freezer
Our mums' advice about freezing baby food
Our forum is full of useful tips about freezing baby food from mums who are doing it every day. Anyone else had flying ice cubes?
Harjeet shares: "I froze food that I cooked for the first and a half month as I found that when I made a batch of food my little lion only ate 3-4 spoons to begin with. After this time, I mostly feed him what we ate as a family, so not as necessary to freeze the food.
"Freezing food really helped me save time; I didn’t have to prepare food 3 times a day. It’s worth freezing food immediately (once cooled) so that there is a stock of food in the freezer for when you have no time to cook or when you are not well! I found that by freezing food I could just grab something out the freezer in the morning for his lunch and at lunch get something for his dinner.
"I food that most foods freeze well, only bananas, avocados, rice and bread I would say not to freeze.
"I froze food for the first month, freezing the food in ice cube trays worked a treat. I would freeze a batch of food, once frozen transfer them into a freezer bag and then the ice cube tray is free for the next batch of food.
"Also, I froze pre-prepared meals that I brought from the shops. If there was some left in the pouch or jar, just pop it into the ice cube trays and freeze to use for next time. Best to freeze on the day of opening the meal."
"That's a great tip about freezing any left over jar/pouch food," says jodie-lou. "I've only frozen home made foods and brought leftovers have gone to waste. I will defiantly do this from now on to save on food costs!
"I have found freezing chunks of fruit is good for when they are teething or just nice for a hot day."
How should I defrost frozen food?
"If you have frozen food in ice cube trays, the individual cubes are pretty quick to defrost," says Jo.
"You can do this in a microwave on the defrost setting straight from the freezer, or use the hot water method by putting the frozen food into a glass bowl and float that in a larger bowl of hot water - this takes 10-15 minutes.
More like this
"Otherwise, leave food to defrost in the fridge, but this can take several hours. Don’t leave your food out of the fridge to defrost as bacteria may grow more easily."
TheOriginalLady77 shared her thoughts on our forum: "I just used to put mine in the microwave frozen, defrost for a min or two and then make it very hot and let it cool down...
"But it's not ideal if your baby is very hungry! You could defrost some overnight and then they won't take as long to heat up.
"I soon got fed up of ice cubes, only did that once! I had a few jars so I used to puree up the food and put it in the empty jars, then leave one jar in fridge for next day and freeze the rest.
"Then I'd take one out of freezer at night and leave it fridge overnight so was defrosted- then put half in a dish for lunch and use the rest for tea."
What food not to freeze
From a food safety point of view, there are few foods that cannot be frozen. However, the following foods tend not to freeze well:
- Raw eggs in shells
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Watery fruit and veg such as lettuce, cucumber, melon
- Leafy herbs like basil and chives
- Egg-based sauces such as mayonnaise and hollandaise
- Low-fat dairy produce like plain yoghurt, cottage cheese
What to do and not to do when reheating frozen baby food
- Do reheat food until it’s piping hot all the way through and allow it to cool before serving.
- Do feel free to freeze cooked food that contains ingredients that have already been frozen when raw (e.g. it’s fine to defrost a chicken breast, use it in a casserole, and then freeze the cooked casserole).
- Do only reheat as much food as you think your baby will eat in one go.
- Do eat food on the day of defrosting
- Don’t just warm food through, as this doesn’t kill bacteria.
- Don’t refreeze raw meat or chicken that has been frozen once already and defrosted.
- Don’t reheat frozen food more than once (e.g. don’t defrost a large batch of puree, reheat it for your baby’s lunch, and then reheat the leftovers next day.
Mum's tip: "I make little homemade lollies"
Babyarama's top tip: "They are good little portions too! I also make little homemade lollies from things such as fruit purees, fresh juice, left over fruit pouches and fruit fromage frais for when my LOs are teething or feeling hot!"
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