Saturday, July 30, 2011

Peach baby food

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.


  1. I made sweet potatoes, avocado, and bananas when mine was first born. It really wasn't that difficult, but we didn't do well with the spoon altogether so we went to baby-led weaning and he shovels the food in himself. I think I still have baby food in the freezer - I should probably get rid of that ...

  2. Okay, so the "make an x and boil!" thing? That never works for me. NEVER! It takes too long to boil the water, it's too hard to get the skin off even AFTER boiling and it makes a big squishy mess. With peaches, I have started just using a vegetable peeler to take off the skin, like for a cucumber or apple. Works great as long as they aren't too ripe.

    When I have the fruit cut and peeled, I chop it up into big chunks and put it in a saucepan with a little bit of water. Maybe a few tablespoons. Then I cook it on low to medium until it sort of breaks down and gets extra mushy. Then I throw it in the Cuisinart.

    As you can see, I am very scientific about it.

    It sounds like the rescipe you found was a little high maintenance? With Claire I had this book and it had tons of ideas for fruit and other stuff and how to cook and combo and I reallllly like it.

    As for the WHY, I like to make my own just to know exactly what's in it. To tell you the truth, I never even ran the price comparison on it versus buying because, to me, it's just more important that I know EXACTLY what is on that spoon. I also like having the control over knowing where the produce comes from (local is great when I can get it), knowing if it's GMO, organic, whatever. I am not sure it makes all that much of a difference to the baby, but I am a controlling person that way and I just want to KNOW.

    I am also not a huge believer in the label "organic" because it is very expensive for a farm to meet the criteria to attain it from the government, and my local farms don't even try most of the time. But, they ARE often organic and even practice "better" farming than the minimum standard to say "organic!" That's not to say that organic produce isn't somewhat preferable to non-organic, I'm just kind of not "Organic = THE BEST!"

    Elisabeth (@littlemissmel) says the same thing about fruit versus vegetable for making baby food and I totally agree. One butternut squash will last FOREVER on a baby.

    I think I am just a control freak.

  3. I make my own because then I know what is going in it. Things with thick skins, I don't always buy organic. We just started feeding the baby food and I try to do things that are easy like bananas, avocado, sweet potatoes, pears, etc. With our first child, I made big batches and froze it. This time, I'm doing it as we need it and not worrying about freezing anything, which seems to be easier. Every few days, I throw a sweet potato in the oven.
    I found out with our first child too that even without teeth, they are able to eat more than I expected. She didn't sprout her first tooth until 2 weeks before her first birthday and she was already eating grilled cheese, noodles and other table food. So this time around, I don't think we are going to spend a large amount of time pureeing foods.