Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Introduction to Homemade Baby Food: Butternut Squash

Writing this post brings back my first real blogging memories. Although I'm no blogging expert, I've come a long way in my understanding of the blogging world since I first wandered in a couple of years ago. When I decided that I would make Ella's baby food, I thought that I would blog about it without really knowing much about blogging at all. I didn't really keep up with those posts, and my photos were terrible, but I guess we all have to start somewhere! I've incorporated those posts into this blog, so if you look back you can see them, haha.
And, now, after my rambling I will get to what this post is actually about: making homemade baby food. When I ventured into making my own baby food with Ella, I was excited, but also a little unsure as to what to expect. Could I do it? Would it be easy? Would it be time-consuming? Would it be worth it? All in all, I really enjoyed making Ella's baby food. In fact, it was pretty fun to me as someone who enjoys cooking. I loved the variety of fresh foods I was able to make for her, and, for the most part, it really is easy, and not too time-consuming (although some foods are most definitely easier to make than others).
If you've never made any baby food, don't worry - you can do it! You don't need any fancy equipment, but there are a few things I do recommend. I bet you already have most of these items in your kitchen supplies. You can read about my recommended gear here. As far as actually making the baby food, I get a lot of my information for making the food from Wholesome Baby Food. I plan to post my process for every food I make Troy along the way.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. I think that this is the most difficult part of the process because you are dealing with a large vegetable. You can see that I didn't do a great job getting mine cut evenly, but it still worked out fine. Scoop out the seeds from each half of the butternut squash. The seeds are very similar to pumpkin seeds.
Place each half flesh side down into a baking dish with approximately a half an inch of water. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 40-60 minutes.
The squash is done baking when the skin starts to get bubbly/puckery and the flesh is very soft (it should be easy to scoop out).
Let the squash cool until it is easy to handle. Remove the flesh and place it into a blender or food processor (I prefer a food processor). You'll notice that I sliced through the flesh in my squash to make the flesh easier to remove. This is a trick that I learned to use with avacados when I'm making guacamole. You might also notice that one half of the squash is missing a decent chunk . . . Ella ate some of the roasted squash as a snack and loved it!
Blend the squash until smooth. You can thin the mixture out by adding water or breastmilk or formula (I personally use water). You can thicken the mixture by adding oatmeal. I thinned this mixture out quite a bit because Troy is still young, and this was the first vegetable he was trying.
Once you have reached the desired consistency of the food, scoop it into ice cube trays (yes, I'm messy). Gently shake/tap the trays help distribute the food into the cubes. Each cube holds approximatley 1 ounce of food. Cover the trays and freeze the squash. Once the squash is frozen, remove the cubes of frozen squash just as you would remove ice from the trays. My squash was frozen very tightly in the trays, so I let the trays sit out for about 10 minutes before removing the squash from the trays. Store the cubes in freezer bags (or other freezer container). Remove cubes and pop in the microwave for a few seconds (or defrost in the fridge) to serve the food. Be careful not to heat for too long in the microwave - you don't want to heat it, just defrost it.
This method also applies to acorn squash. And, taking these photos, I realize I have a lot to learn about food photography. Does anyone have any tips?
Troy liked it pretty well!