I have an 11-month old son, and he loves to eat! One way I have found to save money in our food budget is to make his baby food myself. It’s not hard to do, but it does take a little planning and time. In crunching the numbers, I’ve found that it cuts the cost anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 (depending on what type of food it is) by making baby food at home, rather than purchasing ready-to-serve containers. It’s just one way we’ve found to live a little simpler, and hopefully a little healthier.
The size of the steamer you have will determine how many apples you’ll be able to cook at one time. My steamer (aka my rice cooker) will hold about 4 small/medium apples. I like to use a few different types of apples in the applesauce, as I find it has a more complex, tasty flavor. In this batch the apples I used were: one Braeburn, two Fuji, and one Granny Smith. Start by peeling all of the apples. This is one of those times when I wish we composted. Over the course of making all of this baby food, I would have some rich compost!
Slice the apples into halves.
Then, cut into quarters and remove the cores.
After this, you need to chop the apples into roughly the same size chunks. This way, they will cook evenly, and you won’t have pieces turning to mush while others are still crisp.
Place apple chunks into a steaming basket. I use the steaming basket which came with my rice cooker. It’s another thing I find incredibly handy, and indispensable at this point in time.
This is what it looks like when I’ve got it all put together:
The amount of time it takes for your apples to cook will depend on how big/small the chunks are. After they have steamed until cooked (but not mushy), dump the chunks into a food processor (a blender will also work). I have a 7-cup KitchenAid food processor, and I love it. I wish I had bought it sooner. For the first few months of making baby food, I used our Magic Bullet. It worked, and I had to blend things in several small batches. However, I think I maxed it out and it bit the dust. The KitchenAid handles baby food like a champ!
Blend the chunks until smooth. You’ll have to stop a few times to scrape down the sides to make sure all of the chunks get incorporated.
Since I am making this to feed my son, I portion it out into half-cup containers. In all the times I’ve made applesauce, I’ve found that I get about one half-cup of applesauce for every apple I use. 4 apples = 4 half-cup servings.
There you have it! Fresh applesauce with no added sugar/corn syrup. When I buy apples (only on sale, anywhere from $0.50 to $0.99 a pound), it costs about half as much as pre-packaged baby food. Now, I haven’t compared this to jars of actual applesauce… but at least I don’t have to check labels to see if what I am buying is just apples, or apples plus other “stuff”.
I have blended other fruits in with the apples for a little variety. I had some “smoothie blend” fruit in our freezer one time and added some pineapple and mango to the cooked apples. My son really enjoyed that blend! You could also use blueberries, or strawberries if your child is over 1 year old. A website which I have used time and time again to check recommendations for timing of introducing foods to babies is wholesomebabyfood.com. (Of course, always check with your child’s pediatrician before introducing new foods to your baby) Look forward to more baby food “recipes” in the future!