Making your own baby food is a great way to help your family stay healthy - fiscally and physically. But to do it safely, you've got to master the ins-and-outs of freezing and thawing baby food in ways that prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Cuisinart fan Ruth Yaron's informative book, Super Baby Food, has long been a how-to staple for parents looking to master the art of making their own baby food. Read on for some of Ruth's easy methods to safely freeze and thaw your baby's specially made culinary creations.
The Food Cube Freeze
Most ice cube trays hold about 2 tablespoons of content in volume - the perfect portion of baby food for a baby first starting solids. Eventually, your baby will be putting away 2-3 cubes at a time!
Here's how to do Ruth's Food Cube Freeze:
- Thoroughly clean utensils and equipment before use. Freezing retards growth of bacteria, but doesn't kill it.
- When first attempting to make enough baby food to freeze, it's generally easier to cook and puree (in your Elite Collection ™ 14-Cup Food Processor), a single food at a time until you get the hang of it.
- Once food is cooked and slightly cooled, evenly distribute portions into clean ice cube trays.
- Freeze food as quickly as possible to avoid bacterial contamination.
- Avoid stacking warm trays one on top of the other in the freezer - it prolongs freezing time.
- Freezing takes an average of 8-12 hours or overnight.
- After food is frozen through, remove from ice trays and transfer portions to quart size freezer bags. Be sure to use freezer bags - not storage bags - to avoid freezer burn.
- Squeeze out as much air as possible before zipping each bag shut.
- Clearly label bags with the name of the food, freeze date and expiration date - an average of two months for veggies.
- To keep trays from sticking to other items in the freezer, place wax paper underneath before freezing.
How to Thaw Food Cubes
In order to prevent bacteria from contaminating your food, never let baby food thaw at room temperature. Instead, follow these easy defrosting methods:
- Using the microwave:
The microwave is largely considered a risky way to thaw baby food, but if done carefully, it's by far the most expedient and convenient way to retain food nutrients and keep bacteria at bay. The goal is to thaw each food cube without leaving any solid ice chunks left inside. This can be tricky, because microwaves tend to heat unevenly.
- Put cube(s) in microwave safe bowl and heat between 30 seconds and a minute.
- If too hot, add a frozen cube or two and mix thoroughly to cool food fast.
- Stir thoroughly to distribute heat evenly.
- Dip a clean finger all around bowl to check for hot spots.
- Food should be served to baby at a mild temperature - not hot!
- Place cube(s) in saucepan.
- Use very low heat.
- Give 10 minutes for food to thaw.
- Stir often.
- Make sure food never gets warm or hot.
- Food cubes can also safely thaw in your refrigerator overnight.
- Never refreeze thawed baby food!