Thomas and I made our own peach baby food today and I have to say, I don’t think it was worth it. Peaches were pretty cheap at the grocery store this week, so we picked up a bunch of them. I looked up how to process peaches into baby food and found this:
Scrub fruit clean and carve an X into 1 side of the fruit
Place X side down in a pan with an inch of water
Bring water to a boil and steam until soft and tender
Allow the fruit to cool and then peel the skin from fruit - the skin should slip off very easily.
It took a lot of trial and error to figure out when the peaches were done. You’d think “soft and tender” is self-explanatory, but the part on top seemed to never get done no matter how long we let them boil (or how soft the rest of the peach got). I started turning them over halfway through and that didn’t work well, either. Also, an inch of water was not enough. The water would boil off before the peaches were done. I found that the cooler the peaches got, the harder they were to peel, so I started peeling them piping hot and burned my thumb. I’m sure I did almost everything wrong and with some practice it would go better. But I don't think I'll be practicing.
We used 17 peaches and got about 24 4-ounce jars worth. If you’ve been around for a while, you know I enjoy couponing and try to find the best deal on everything. Two years ago, when buying food for Meg, I got Earth’s Best jars half off, making each 4-ounch jar about 40 cents. (It was Black Friday. I bought enough to last us for the entire time she ate jarred food.) If I use that price for a comparison it cost about half as much to make it ourselves - $4.92 for 24 jars worth instead of $9.60. Plus, as Thomas said, we didn’t factor in the cost of using one of the gas burners for over an hour to boil peaches. Also, Earth’s Best is organic and the peaches we used were not.
Now, I know I might not be able to get jars for 50% off this time around. Right now on Amazon, I could get them for 64 cents each of I use subscribe & save. I recently bought some of the fruit & whole grain jars on one of Amazon’s Friday grocery sales and got them for 55 cents each. At this price, making our own cost about a third as much. Again, all these prices are for organic, and I bet I could find plain old unorganic Gerber for cheaper. (Huh. Maybe not. I just checked and the regular Gerber is the same price per ounce on Amazon as the Earth’s Best.)
I’m just not sure what the benefit is to making it yourself. Do most people do it to save money? Because they think it’s better than jars? Better in what way? If you make your own baby food, why do you do it? I didn’t do it to save money, though I was hoping that would be a nice side effect. I also didn’t necessarily think it would be healthier, because we didn’t use organic peaches and while the baby food companies say stuff like “picked at their peak and minimally processed to retain nutrients” I can’t necessarily say the same for my own. I have no idea if they were picked at their peak and I probably boiled them too long. (Then again, it also seemed like it wasn’t long enough.) For some reason homemade seems better, but I honestly don’t get what the problem is with jarred. So…what WAS the benefit of making my own? I guess just money?
I suppose five months from now when we start using the peaches I’ll have forgotten what a pain it was and think it was worth it. In fact, I’ve almost talked myself into trying it again. I’m worried, though, that I’ll get into halfway through the process again and find myself in the same “this is NOT WORTH IT” frame of mind. If I do try again, I’ll wait until the peaches are softer, put more water in the pan, and give letting them cool down before peeling another try. Some people bake the peaches in an inch of water instead of boiling, right? Should I try that?
We’re definitely going to make all of our own vegetable baby food, but it seems like the fruit might be more trouble than its worth.