There are many safe and convenient ways to store homemade baby food – learn more!
Now that you have made your baby food, you want to store it in the most sanitary yet convenient way possible.
Should you bother with ice cube trays, store it in the refrigerator, drop it on wax papered cookie sheets for freezing or use glass jars?
After you have made the decision on how to store your baby food, how will you organize it? Outlined below are the varied methods for storing baby food along with their pros and cons.
Freezing Homemade Baby Food – The Ice Cube Tray/Freezer Bag Method
Using this method, you spoon or pour your baby food purees into regular ice cube trays and then cover with plastic wrap.
Prior to using your ice cube trays, you want to thoroughly cleanse them with warm soapy water and/or run them through the dishwasher on the sanitize setting. Some parents have even submerged their ice cube trays in boiling water for sanitizing (note: please make sure that the manufacturer of the trays indicates it is ok to boil the trays.)
The ice cube tray method offers you many advantages:
– Each cube is approximately 1+ ounces, allowing you to have an idea of the amount of food your baby is consuming.
– Another advantage is that you probably have ice cube trays on hand and will not need to go out and buy them.
– Further, there is minimal waste as you use only 1 cube at a time and will not have to toss away much food; such as you toss away when using commercial foods.
– Using the ice cube tray method to store homemade baby food also allows you to make several trays at a time so your time spent in the kitchen making baby food is decreased.
Once the purees have been frozen in the trays, you simply pop out the cubes and use as needed. If you’ve made big batches, pop out the cubes and store them in freezer bags. You simply transfer the baby food cubes into freezer bags, freeing up your trays for the next batch of food as well as freeing up some freezer space.
If using the freezer bag method for your food cubes, be sure to label the bags with the type of food and also date the bags. This will help you to quickly grab a cube from a bag of veggie and a bag of fruit without having to guess what you have in the bags. It also allows you to keep track of the length of time the food cubes have been in the freezer.
Read more regarding freezing prepared foods.
Storing Homemade Baby Food in the Refrigerator
Storing your baby food in the refrigerator is probably one of the least convenient and safe way to store homemade baby food. It is recommended that baby food be stored no longer than 48 hours in the refrigerator so as to reduce the risk of (bacterial or other) contamination on the food.
If you choose to store your baby food in the refrigerator, please be sure to take individual servings from the container. NEVER feed your baby directly from the original container and then re-store. Saliva may contaminate the food.
Using the Wax Paper/Cookie Sheet Method to Store Homemade Baby Food
This method involves dropping your purees into “clumps” on a cookie sheet that has been covered in wax paper; much like you do when making cookies. This method requires a lot of freezer space and would also require that you transfer the frozen food into another storage item.
Glass Jars or Recycled Baby Food Containers to Store Homemade Baby Food?
You should NEVER freeze anything in glass containers unless the glass container is specifically labeled for freezing.
Freezing in glass may cause bursting. It may also cause tiny fractures in the glass and may leave behind microscopic glass shards that you may never see. Freezing homemade baby food in the plastic containers that some commercial baby food makers now use is a better choice. However, some plastics are made specifically to withstand heat and freezing temperatures so ensure that your recycled plastic containers are labeled as “ok to freeze”.
BALL, makers of home canning products, manufactures 4 ounce jars specifically for freezing as do other manufactures.
All things considered, freezing in ice cube trays and then transferring to freezer bags is to me, the easiest, most time-saving and convenient method of storing homemade baby food – even when you have twins!
How long will baby food [cubes] keep in the freezer & refrigerator?
- Freezer: 3-6 months (ideally use within 1-3 months)
- Refrigerator (fruits / veggies): 48 hours
- Refrigerator (meat, poultry, fish eggs): 24 hours
For optimal quality and nutrient retention, keep frozen baby food cubes in the freezer for a maximum of 3 months.
Baby food cubes are safe to remain in the freezer from 3 to 6 months. Using baby food cubes within 1 month to 3 months is really more prudent. Due to the amount of water crystals that tend to build up with baby food purees, and due to the fact that nutrients may leach/evaporate upon thawing because of the water crystals, it is more prudent to use your frozen baby foods cubes as soon as possible – 3 months of storage tops. We always recommend using within 1 month if at all possible.
Many authoritative guidelines will say that most fruits and veggies will keep from 8 to 12 months in the freezer. This is mostly true of foods that are frozen in their natural state. This is also assuming that the freezer remains at a constant sub-zero temperature. Storing foods in a deep freezer is best should you wish to keep frozen foods for that time frame.
Remember that when certain books give freezer time guidelines, they rely on the typical guidelines for fruits/veggies that have NOT been cooked and turned into purees.
How long with baby food cubes keep in the refrigerator?
In the refrigerator, it is recommended that fresh pureed homemade baby food be stored no longer than 48 hours (many food safety authorities say that 72 hour is fine.). This limit ensures that bacteria growth in the puree is kept to a minimum and that the food does not take on the “taste of the fridge”. This “rule” applies for veggies, fruits, meats etc.
If you do not plan to freeze your homemade baby food, I suggest that you make the puree on a day to day, or every other day, basis.
For example, one sweet potato may be baked and then you may freeze one half without pureeing it and then puree the other half. This method will help cut down “waste” and also allow for food safety.
Can I safely use frozen vegetables or fruits to make baby food purees and refreeze them?
YES. You can refreeze frozen veggies & fruits. Using frozen fruits and vegetables is the second best option to using fresh foods. The process of flash-freezing (foods being frozen at a very low temperature and frozen very quickly) actually preserves and allows for optimal nutrient retention.
One of the most commonly asked question is “Can I safely use frozen vegetables or fruits to make baby food purees and refreeze them?”. There are no studies or research to show that refreezing is negative and/or may adversely affect health. The caveat is that you must cook the foods prior to refreezing them. Frozen vegetables and fruits are NOT COOKED prior to being frozen.
Picked at the peak of freshness, a vast majority of frozen veggies are flash frozen either right in the fields or in the warehouse close by. “Fresh” veggies may sit around in trucks and warehouses and criss-cross the country before it even makes it to your table.
Frozen veggies are NOT cooked when packaged and so they must be cooked prior to eating. Please be sure to read the label of your frozen veggie bags as a few brands of frozen veggies may be pre-cooked; you would not want to refreeze these.
The fact is, cooking foods deplete more nutrients than does freezing foods. Contrary to myth, freezing foods (fruits and vegetables in particular) does NOT deplete 100% of that food’s vitamins and minerals. The process of freezing, if kept at a constant 0 degree temp does not contribute to a TOTAL loss of nutrients – if it did, then the majority of the population would be malnourished as we rely on and eat a large amount of frozen foods.
If you ever forget what the “rule” is, remember this example : you can take out a roast that was frozen uncooked & raw, thaw it, cook it and then freeze the leftovers for another meal. Once you have thawed the leftovers, you should never re-freeze the leftover-leftovers.