At Tastyganics, we’re passionate about helping families feed their babies the highest quality foods. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then you might wonder if applesauce is the best first food for your baby. Until your child is about six months old, you should feed them only breast milk or formula. When your baby is ready for solid foods, you can start offering simple, one-ingredient options to get them used to new textures and flavors. Applesauce is a great first food. If you make it yourself, you can cook it in bulk and freeze it to save money and extend your supply.
Why Make Homemade Applesauce?
You can find applesauce in the baby food section of the store. It usually comes in jars and pouches. Most supermarkets also stock applesauce in the canned fruit section. This version is created for toddlers, children and adults. It often contains additives and corn syrup, which are ingredients that many parents don’t want to introduce to their infants.
Applesauce that’s marketed for infants usually contains fewer ingredients than other types. Therefore, it may be healthier for your little one. It might also be pureed more finely than the kind that you buy with the canned fruit.
If you make your own applesauce, though, you can control exactly what goes into it. You can also regulate the texture by adjusting your blending technique.
Baby food can be expensive. Those tiny jars can run upward of $1 each, and experts recommend that you feed your infant about half a cup of fruits per day. You can make large batches of applesauce at home for less money than you’d spend on packaged baby food. Finally, you can freeze the excess so that you don’t have to run to the store to replace it as frequently as you might otherwise.
Benefits of Homemade Applesauce
Apples offer excellent nutrition for kids. One apple contains the following nutrients:
- 0.3 grams of protein
- 13.8 grams of carbohydrates
- 10.4 grams of sugar
- 2.4 grams of fiber
- 0.2 grams of fat
The carbohydrate and sugar content in apples makes them a great fuel. When you have a little one who is crawling or walking, you probably know that they need plenty of energy to keep moving all day long. But many applesauce brands contain added sugar. Babies don’t need that. An apple’s natural sugar content will make the fruit sweet enough for your infant to enjoy. Plus, you can add applesauce to other vegetable purees to sweeten them.
Apples are great for digestion. They contain fiber, which helps prevent constipation and keep the bowels balanced. This fruit is also high in pectin, a type of fiber that promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and helps eliminate waste from the body.
Although most people associate citrus fruits with vitamin C, you should know that apples also contain high levels of the vitamin. Apples also contain potassium, which is essential for heart health and electrolyte balance.
How to Make Applesauce Baby Food
Apples are in season during the fall. That’s when they’ll be the sweetest and juiciest. Furthermore, they’re usually more affordable during that season. If you load up on homemade applesauce when the fruit is in season, you can extend its life by freezing it. That’s one of the most affordable ways to feed your baby applesauce.
Some species of apples are better for making this recipe than others. They’re sweet enough to retain their flavor even after they’re cooked and pureed. The best apples for applesauce include:
- Golden Delicious
You might want to choose organic apples. This fruit is on the Environmental Working Group’s list of Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables. That means that they contain high levels of pesticide residue. You won’t have to worry about that if you shop organic.
You’ll be peeling the apples for this recipe anyway, though. If you can’t buy organic, make sure that you wash the fruit thoroughly before peeling it to avoid transferring chemicals from the exterior to the flesh.
Choose apples that are firm. They shouldn’t have bruises or indentations.
Mix ¾ cup of water with ¼ cup of vinegar. Wash the apples in this solution before rinsing them under fresh water. The vinegar will remove bacteria that could make its way into the sauce.
Then, dry the apples and peel them with a knife or vegetable peeler. Chop it into 1-inch chunks, removing and discarding the core and seeds.
Place the apple chunks into a saucepan, and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium so that it simmers. Keep the apples in the simmering water until they’re tender. Check them every five minute by poking them with a fork.
Avoid overcooking the fruit. Too much heat will reduce the levels of vitamins and minerals in the final sauce.
Remove the apples from the hot water with a slotted spoon or by draining them in a colander. Then, plunge them into a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process.
Puree the apples in a blender or food processor to transform them into a smooth sauce. Younger infants usually prefer silky applesauce. You can leave some chunks by pulsing the appliance or mashing the apples by hand as your little one gets older.
How to Freeze Applesauce
Applesauce for babies is simple to freeze. Put it into airtight, BPA-free containers. You can use plastic zipper bags or covered ice cube trays too. Then, store it in the freezer for up to three months. Some say that applesauce lasts for up to a year in the freezer. Thaw it out in the refrigerator overnight. In a pinch, you can run a small container of frozen applesauce under hot water to thaw it.
If you’d like to adjust the texture of the applesauce, add some breast milk or baby formula to it after you thaw it. That might sound strange, but offering infants a new flavor in combination with a familiar one may help them adjust to the taste.