Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Adventures in solids: Applesauce & Pear

Applesauce

At the very beginning of this adventure in solids, I had made up my mind to try and hold off on sweet tasting foods especially fruits until after my baby had a chance to try several vegetables. But I realized that with the exception of green beans, most vegetables that are suitable for stage 1 and stage 2 baby foods are sweet tasting anyway; such as carrots, squash, sweet potato... so I guess I needn't have bothered?  Anyway after trying green beans, squash, oatmeal & carrots (in that order) I decided to introduce her first fruit; apples. 

Ideally fruits are most nutritious when they are raw, but I decided to make the apples into applesauce rather than try to feed them to her raw. Mainly because, she didn't have any teeth at the time so it would take a long time for her to eat just a tiny bit of raw apple and also because cooked applesauce is so much easier on the digestive system of a 7 month old. 

I had never made applesauce before, but it sounded relatively easy, so I was sure I would have no trouble with it, plus I love trying new things! There are many types of apples out there, and not all of them are good for applesauce, I read that the best apples for applesauce were Fuji, Gala and McIntosh. I decided to go with Fuji apples, since they are one of my favorites anyway.  I prepped them by washing, peeling, coring and slicing them into wedges, and honestly it was a bit tedious because I don't own a fancy corer or slicer. So I had to do it the old fashioned way with a regular knife and peeler. I definitely think its worth investing in a corer at some point to save me prep time.   I could have left the skin on them, but since these were regular apples from the supermarket, rather than from the local farmers market, I decided to just get rid of the peel rather than spending an eternity washing & scrubbing them in an attempt to get them as clean as possible.  When I was finally done prepping them,  I cooked the apple wedges in a little bit of water in a stainless saucepan as usual.



I let them cook until they felt soft and mushy so they would be easier to blend. I scooped them out of the water and placed them in the blender. Within minutes I had fresh homemade applesauce! So incredibly easy and it tasted great too. I was actually surprised at how sweet it was, almost as if I had added sugar to it.
 
 
 
 
As usual I spooned it into the freezing trays and poured the left over directly into the 4oz canning jars. I love that these applesauce cubes are so much easier to remove from the trays than the frozen vegetable purees I had tried prior. They also defrost much faster, which is great for days when I forget to take the cubes out of the freezer ahead of time. My guess is, this is because of the naturally high sugar and water content of apples as compared with green beans or carrots.
 

My daughter absolutely loved this applesauce, and happily gobbled it down. Because of how sweet it is, it is an excellent sweetener for other foods such as oatmeal or yogurt.


 
Pears

Making the pear puree was much the same as the applesauce. The main difference is that unlike apples, pears are usually not ready to eat and have to be left to ripen after purchase. The pears I bought from the farmers market were no exception. They were pretty firm when I bought them so I placed them on a tray  for several days to ripen. I decided to go with bosc pears for no other reason than that they are the only ones I've ever tried and I wanted to play it safe! But I have found out since then that bartlett pears are better for cooking so I'll probably try those next time. I do know some people cook their pears while they are still hard, but I wanted them to get soft, in the hope that I might not have to cook them and could puree them raw. After a week, these pears were still pretty firm to touch, but I decide to bite into one anyway because it smelt so good and inviting; to my surprise they were deliciously juicy inside. I cut up a few small pieces of the raw pear for my daughter to try since she was looking at me hungrily as I ate up her pear. She did okay with the raw pear but it did take her a while to eat it so I decided to go ahead and cook the rest of the pears because I wasn't sure she could handle eating large quantities of raw fruit at that point.

Just like the apples, I peeled and cored them manually and then placed them in a pan to cook. I didn't cook them for very long since they were already soft to begin with. Once it was cooked, I pureed them in the blender and then poured the puree into the freezer containers. With the exception of the peeling & coring, the whole process was all pretty straight forward and easy.



Much like the applesauce, the pear puree was also a big hit and is also great for sweetening other foods in place of sugar.




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