Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tell-it Tuesday: How to make Summer Squash puree for baby [food]

Every week I'm going to post a "Tell-it Tuesday" entry to walk you through how to do something. Most of the time it'll relate to attached/natural parenting but I'll throw in other cool things I've learned how to do occasionally too. This week I'm going to show you how to make Summer Squash Puree for baby. Next week I'll post a "how to" for all your Bloggers out there...something that I've gotten a lot of requests for lately.

I really enjoyed home making baby food for our son so naturally I really wanted to do it for Kadie too. I wrote up this tutorial as the Summer was winding down last year and the seasonal Summer foods were on the verge of going out of season. With a lot of good foods in season over the Summer I wasn't sure if I should freeze the foods whole or make the puree and then freeze. I decided to make the puree and freeze. The storage time in a freezer part of a refrigerator is 3-4 months, in a deep freezer it's even longer.

I have both Super Baby Food and  The Petit Appetit Cookbook. I would highly recommend both books, but wouldn't pay full price for Super Baby Food. She's very frugal but if you can look past that the book is jammed back full of information. The Petit Appetit Cookbook is simpler, with the basic information on home making baby food, and has some really, really great recipes that go on through toddler hood in a very easy to read format with nutritional information right on the page.

I decided to follow the instructions in The Petit Appetit Cookbook for Summer Squash Puree (pg 72). If you're not going to us in-season/local foods I highly suggest using frozen because it's picked and frozen at it's peak.

In my arsenal:
To prepare-
-2 squash (We get ours from Cross Creek Farm in our town.)
-cutting board
-sharp knife
-plain Jane, run of the mill food processor from Hamilton Beach
-steamer basket
-toothpick (to test for done-ness)
<-tongs (to remove squash if steam is too hot to grab steamer basket)

To freeze-
-two plain Jane, run of the mill ice trays. They make "fancy" ice trays just the purpose of freezing baby food but I used two that we use for ice already.
-aluminum foil
-freezer bag(s)
-permanent marker

The recipe:
3 large organic summer squash, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds (about 4
Steamer Method (there is a microwave method also but you'll have to buy the book for that one): Place and prepare squash in a steamer basket set in a pot filled with about 1 to 2 inches of lightly boiling water. Do not let water touch squash. Cover tightly for best nutrient retention and steam for 7 to 9 minutes, or until squash is tender. Squash should pierce easily with a toothpick.Squash does not need to be peeled. Puree in a food processor with a steel blade. Additional liquid is not usually needed.

What I did:

- I set-up the pot with the water and placed the steamer basket inside.
For those not familiar with a steamer basket it looks like this...we bought it at either Target or Walmart for a few bucks, I don't remember.
-I had 4 squash, I only used two.
-I scrubbed them with a vegetable brush, then cut the very top and bottom off (and gave them to our guinea pig) and cut the rest up into circles, like the recipe said
-I transfered the cut pieces into the steam basket inside the pot
Covered and let steam on "8". I had to nurse Kadie so when they skin was quite easily pierced with the toothpick at 9 minutes I turned off the burner and went to nurse her.
-When I came back they were almost falling a part. It was still too hot to reach in and grab the steamer basket so I picked the pieces up using tongs and put them in the food processor cup. I filled it up half way
-Then pureed it on "2" until I thought it looked like baby food (scientific, I know!)
True to the recipe I did not need to add any extra water, but in case you do you should keep the water that you cooked in that way you put whatever nutrients escaped through cooking back into the food.
-I scooped the Squash puree out of the food processor and into the ice trays.

-The half processor cup full made one tray, so I wrapped it tightly with aluminum foil and put it in the back of the freezer and repeated the process for the rest of the Squash in the pot.
-Once they froze (it took longer than freezing normal ice cubes) I removed them from the ice trays
and put them in sandwich bags labeled with the consistency (if necessary). I got three bags of 7 cubes and put the three sandwich bags into a gallon freezer bag that I labeled with the name of the food and date. There are a bunch of different ways you can freeze food, but like I said I prefer the nesting bag method using instructions I learned from Super Baby Food.

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