Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Homemade Babyfood Tutorial, Part Five


Okay, once again, I'm not going to make suggestions about when you should start different foods because this is very dependent upon each child and family's personal preferences. But here are the directions I've used for meats.

So far I've done turkey and chicken. I used our Thanksgiving turkey leftovers to make some babyfood, then I bought a whole chicken. My preference is to use free-range, organic poultry because it is antibiotic and growth hormone-free. Also, free-range birds are fed an all-grain, natural diet. The result is that there is a more lean, less fat bird that has grown naturally without the aid of growth hormones. Of course this is just my opinion and does not at all affect the recipes. I just feel like I'm saving a ton of money on baby food by making my own, so I'm able to spend a little more on the highest quality ingredients. (For example, one jar of baby food meat is around $1.29. I paid $5.49 for a whole chicken which made more than 25 servings. Great deal.)
This entire gallon-sized Ziploc is a combination of dinners made from just one small chicken.
Okay, moving on. Prepare your poultry either by baking, pan-frying (with as little oil as possible), or poaching. I tend to prefer poaching because I can further flavor the meat with onions, garlic, etc. in the cooking water, then I have that water to use to thin it in the food processor. Just make sure you do not use any salt to flavor the water.

Basically after the meat is fully-cooked, cut it into cubes, and add it to the food processor. Blend for 30 seconds, then thin with the cooking water to your desired consistency by adding a tablespoon at a time and blending for 5 seconds. When it is done, you can freeze as-is in ice cube trays, or you can combine with rice, veggies, or fruits like apples, blueberries, or pears before freezing.

Some helpful hints:
  • There are great books with recipe ideas and food combinations for baby food. However, I always browse the baby food aisle in the grocery stores and get my ideas from the jars. It will give you a good idea for combining certain fruits and veggies as well as pastas and grains.
  • It may be a good idea to freeze just plain meats (as in no combinations or dinners) at first until you get a sense of the combinations that your baby likes. Then you can thaw one cube of meat with one cube of apple, blueberry, corn, etc. If your baby doesn't like it, you haven't wasted an entire chicken.
  • It is a good idea to use a whole chicken or turkey when you can because white meat does not blend quite as well. The fat content in dark meat lends itself to pureeing. Because of this, I always blend a combination of white and dark meats. By the way, a little dark meat goes a long way in the pureeing process, so there's no need to use equal parts.

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