Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Children
Use garden produce to make homemade baby food
Tammy Roberts, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Barton County, University of Missouri Extension
Making homemade baby food is a good way to use your garden produce — you’re using quality food and you know how it was handled from seed to stove. You can cook and puree your garden produce for your infant to enjoy, and then freeze what is left. Canning pureed food is not recommended.
Infants under the age of 6 months should not be fed home-prepared spinach, beets, turnips, carrots or collard greens. These vegetables may contain large amounts of nitrates or nitrites, which could make young infants sick.
Safe food-handling practices are essential because infants have immature immune systems. Be sure to wash your hands and thoroughly clean all equipment you will be using to prepare the baby food. In addition, be sure to clean food thoroughly and cook it until soft and tender before grinding or pureeing.
Cooked food should never be left at room temperature more than two hours. Be sure to refrigerate all homemade baby food as soon as it is prepared, keeping out only the portion your baby will eat. Refrigerated homemade baby food should be used within two days. Meat, fish, poultry and eggs should be used within one day.
Home-prepared baby food can be frozen and stored for one month. To freeze, pour cooked pureed foods into sections of a clean ice cube tray. Then cover with plastic wrap and store in the freezer. Once the food is frozen, you can remove the cubes from the tray and store them in a freezer-safe container in the freezer. Be sure to label each container with the date you stored it.
When you are ready to serve the frozen food, it can be defrosted in the refrigerator or as a part of the re-heating process. Baby food should never be left on the counter to thaw, as this promotes bacterial growth. Refrigerated or frozen baby food should be heated to 165 degrees. Be sure to stir and test the temperature before serving it to the baby. Use the thawed food within two days.
Last update: Friday, January 28, 2011