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Spinach, Kale, or Chard

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1½ pounds leafy greens (with ribs attached), or 1 pound
(16 cups) loose leafy greens (no ribs attached)
Remove large fibrous ribs (thick central stems), if attached,
and discard. To remove ribs, fold leaves in half lengthwise,
then tear or slice the stems out with a knife. Stack several
leaves together and then coarsely chop them. Place leafy
greens in a steamer basket and set in a pot filled with 1 to 2
inches of simmering water. Working in 2 or 3 batches will
likely be necessary, depending upon the size of your
steamer (leafy greens cook down substantially, which is why
the starting quantity of leaves is so large). Cover and steam
for 3 to 5 minutes, gently tossing greens to promote even
cooking, until greens wilt. Remove from heat, and repeat
with remaining batches, if necessary. Note that unless you
use a high-speed blender (like a Vitamix), it will likely not be
possible to get an ultrasmooth puree from leafy greens.
Place wilted leafy greens in a blender or food processor and
puree, and, if necessary, add fresh water (about ½ cup) until
desired consistency is reached.
Pour the puree into a freezer tray and cover with plastic
wrap or waxed paper. Place the freezer tray in the freezer
for 24 hours, or until completely set, then transfer frozen
cubes from the freezer tray into a labeled freezer storage
bag.
NOTE
If regular spinach is used in lieu of baby spinach,
these greens will need a more thorough cleaning
before use, due to the leaves collecting soil and
debris when growing. The easiest way to clean large
spinach leaves is to place them in a large bowl with
room temperature water and stir leaves around to
get debris to fall to the bottom. Rinse and repeat
until no debris can be seen in the water.
Flowers and Buds
These flower heads and buds are a versatile addition to
baby’s meal plan. The little treelike structures of these
veggies also make for convenient finger foods when
baby is ready.
BROCCOLI
fall to spring
Broccoli packs a big nutrient punch, serving as a rich source of
phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins. When selecting broccoli,
look for florets that are firm and compact, with an even, dark
green color. Broccoli that has started to yellow or brown will
have an overly strong flavor profile. It can be stored in the
refrigerator for up to five days. Broccoli can have a particularly
strong sulfur flavor profile that some babies may initially reject.
Combine broccoli with apples, pears, or bananas to mellow out
the potentially objectionable flavor (see Flavor Compatibility
Guide).
CAULIFLOWER
fall
Cauliflower is a member of the cabbage family, and contains
important cancer-fighting phytonutrients. When selecting
cauliflower, look for a compact head with tight bud clusters and
a creamy white (or vibrant orange or purple) color. A lot of
green leaves surrounding the cauliflower head are good as well,
as these leaves will protect the cauliflower, allowing it to last
longer. Cauliflower can be stored for up to five days in the
refrigerator. Cauliflower pairs well with a variety of foods, such
as lentils and prunes (see Flavor Compatibility Guide).
ASPARAGUS
spring
Asparagus is the tender delicacy of spring. When selecting
asparagus, you may choose spears that are either thick or thin,
but make sure they are fresh, as asparagus loses its sweetness
and becomes woody as it ages. Select asparagus spears that
have tightly closed tips, and stalks that are bright green, straight,
and firm. The bottom of the stalks should not be dry. Do not
wash asparagus until just before use. Store asparagus as you
would a flower bouquet: trim the ends of fresh spears and stand
them upright in a jar filled with 1 inch of water. The jar may be
stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Asparagus
combines well with foods containing milder flavors, such as
summer squash (see Flavor Compatibility Guide).

Zucchini, Crookneck, Straightneck, or Scallop Squash

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1 pound summer squash
Trim off the ends and cut squash into ½-inch-thick slices.
Place squash in a steamer basket and set in a pot filled with
1 to 2 inches of simmering water. Cover and steam for 5 to
7 minutes, until the squash slightly softens and can be
pierced easily with a fork. Uncover and remove from heat to
let the squash cool down.
Place cooked squash in a blender or food processor and
puree until desired consistency is reached. Additional water
probably will not be needed.
Pour the puree into a freezer tray and cover with plastic
wrap or waxed paper. Place the freezer tray in the freezer
for 24 hours, or until completely set, then transfer frozen
cubes from the freezer tray into a labeled freezer storage
bag.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy green veggies are nutritional powerhouses,
providing rich sources of minerals, vitamins, and
phytonutrients. Pound for pound, leafy greens are one
of the most concentrated sources of nutrition of any
food, making this vegetable category an important part
of a well-rounded meal plan for baby.
SPINACH
spring and fall
Regular or baby spinach can be used, but baby spinach is
harvested earlier than regular spinach, resulting in a smaller,
more delicate and mildly flavored leaf, making it more ideal for
baby food. Baby spinach, with no ribs to remove, is readily found
both in bulk and prepackaged in the produce section of most
supermarkets. When selecting spinach, look for a deep green,
uniform color in the leaves. Avoid greens that have started to
turn yellow or brown, or those that have started to wilt. Choose
small to medium leaves, which have a milder flavor than larger
leaves. Nutrients of spinach degrade with excessive storage
time. Do not wash spinach until just before using, as excess
moisture will cause leaves to wilt prematurely. Spinach should be
stored in the refrigerator and consumed within three to five
days. Spinach, particularly baby spinach, delivers a fairly mild
flavor profile, allowing this nutrient-packed food to be mixed in
with a variety other foods (see Flavor Compatibility Guide). A
breakfast staple for my babies was always Green Bananas, a
mixture of spinach with bananas.
KALE
winter
There are many varieties of kale, and all can be used for baby
food. Lacinato kale (also called dinosaur, dino, or Tuscan kale,
pictured) is a particularly good choice for baby, as it has a
smoother texture and slightly sweeter flavor profile than other
kale varieties. Kale leaves with ribs already removed can be
found prepackaged in some supermarkets. When selecting kale,
look for a deep green, uniform color in the leaves. Avoid greens
that have started to turn yellow or brown, or those that have
started to wilt. Choose small to medium leaves, which have a
milder flavor than larger leaves. Nutrients of kale degrade with
excessive storage time. Do not wash kale until just before using,
as excess moisture will cause leaves to wilt prematurely. Kale is a
hearty leafy green, and can last five to seven days when stored
in the refrigerator. Kale pairs well with many foods, particularly
carrots, apples, and sweet potatoes (see Flavor Compatibility
Guide).
CHARD (AKA SWISS CHARD OR SILVERBEET)
summer
The leafy part of chard will always be green, but the stems
(which look a lot like celery) can be white, green, yellow, red,
pink, or orange. When selecting chard, look for a deep green,
uniform color in the leaves. Avoid greens that have started to
turn yellow or brown, or those that have started to wilt. Choose
small to medium leaves, which have a milder flavor than larger
leaves. Do not wash chard until just before using, as excess
moisture will cause leaves to wilt prematurely. Chard has the
shortest shelf life of the leafy greens. Store chard in the
refrigerator for one to two days before use. Chard can be paired
with a variety of foods (see Flavor Compatibility Guide). Try the
yummy Sweet ’Snipped Chard recipe that features parsnips and
pears.

Carrots, Parsnips, Beets, Turnips, or Sweet Potatoes

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1¼ pounds root vegetables
Peel root vegetables, then cut off and discard the ends and
leafy greens, if attached. Cut vegetable flesh into ½-inchthick
slices. Place vegetable slices in a steamer basket and
set in a pot filled with 1 to 2 inches of simmering water.
Cover and steam for 8 to 10 minutes (carrots, parsnips) or
15 minutes (beets, turnips, sweet potatoes), until vegetables
slightly soften and can be pierced easily with a fork.
Uncover and remove from heat to let vegetables cool
down.
Place cooked root vegetables in a blender or food
processor and puree, and, if necessary, add fresh water
(about ¾ cup), until desired consistency is reached.
Pour the puree into a freezer tray and cover with plastic
wrap or waxed paper. Place the freezer tray in the freezer
for 24 hours, or until completely set, then transfer frozen
cubes from the freezer tray into a labeled freezer storage
bag.
Squash
Although referred to and consumed as vegetables,
squashes are actually fruits, because they contain the
seeds of the plant. There are two main categories of
squashes: winter squash and summer squash. Both will
offer up delicious purees for baby.
WINTER SQUASH: BUTTERNUT, PUMPKIN, ACORN,
DELICATA, AND BUTTERCUP
early fall
Winter squash is actually a warm-weather crop, but it gets its
name because it can be stored through the winter. Winter
squash is harvested when mature, after the skins have
significantly hardened. Winter squashes come in many sizes and
shapes, but all have very thick rinds, a hollow inner cavity
containing hard seeds, and very dense flesh requiring longer
cooking times than summer squash. Rinds and seeds must be
removed before eating. When selecting winter squash, look for
those that are dense, with a firm rind, an intact stem (which
helps avoid moisture loss), and dull-colored skin. Smooth, shiny
skin is an indicator that the squash is not ripe. Avoid squash with
bruising, cuts, or brown scarring (indicating frostbite), which can
degrade quality. The hard, thick rinds of winter squashes allow
them to be stored for at least one month when kept in a dry,
cool location. Like root veggies, winter squashes develop a
beautiful nutty flavor when roasted in the oven, but steaming is
a faster method of cooking that still produces a flavorful puree.
Butternut squash is the easiest of all winter squashes to prepare,
because it has a thinner rind that can be peeled before cooking.
Winter squashes combine well with many other veggies and
legumes. They also pair particularly well with cherries (see
Flavor Compatibility Guide).
SUMMER SQUASH: ZUCCHINI, CROOKNECK,
STRAIGHTNECK, AND SCALLOP
midsummer to early fall
Summer squash is harvested when still immature, leaving its skin
tender and edible. When selecting summer squash, look for
brightly colored, shiny, unblemished skin. Make sure the squash
is firm, particularly at the ends. Unlike winter squashes, there is
no need to remove the thin skins or tiny seeds of these squashes
before pureeing. Prepare all summer squashes the same way.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Summer squashes
combine well with summer fruits, like nectarines and peaches, as
well as a variety of vegetables and legumes (see Flavor
Compatibility Guide).

Dried Plums (Prunes), Apricots, or Figs

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2 cups water
⅓ pound dried plums, apricots, or figs (about 15)
Bring water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add dried fruit,
cover with a lid, and turn off heat. Allow dried fruit to steep
for 10 minutes to rehydrate, then remove lid and allow the
fruit and water to cool. Pour plumped fruit and water into a
blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
Pour the puree into a freezer tray and cover with plastic
wrap or waxed paper. Place the freezer tray in the freezer
for 24 hours, or until completely set, then transfer frozen
cubes from the freezer tray into a labeled freezer storage
bag.

Vegetables
A vegetable is an edible plant or part of a plant, typically
referring to the leaf, stem, root, flower, or bud,
excluding seeds and sweet fruit.
Root Vegetables
These underground-grown veggies are particularly
tasty when roasted in the oven, as the natural sugars
caramelize at a high baking temperature. When
chopped into small, uniform pieces, root veggies will
take around 40 minutes to cook at 425°F. Steaming is a
much faster method that still produces a flavorful puree.
The following root vegetables—carrots, parsnips, beets,
turnips, and sweet potatoes—can all be prepared the
same way.
CARROTS
fall, winter, spring
Carrots can be found in a range of sizes and colors, including
orange, red, yellow, white, and purple. Look for a vibrant color
and smooth shape. If the greens are still attached, they should
be bright green and not wilted. Slim young carrots are usually
the sweetest. Baby carrots are convenient, but are typically less
sweet than thin young carrots. Bagged baby carrots are usually
made from full-size carrots that have been whittled down to
their small size. Avoid carrots with green coloring at the stem
end, cracks, blemishes, or those that are soft or rubbery. If leafy
greens are attached to carrots, always remove them before
storing to prevent the greens from pulling moisture out of the
root. Store carrots in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Carrots are a naturally sweet vegetable that pairs well with a
large variety of other foods, including most fruits, vegetables,
and legumes, making them a good complement with more
strongly flavored veggies, like beets or green beans (see Flavor
Compatibility Guide).
PARSNIPS
winter, early spring
Parsnips look similar to carrots, but are paler in color, and often
sweeter when cooked. A rule of thumb is the whiter the flesh,
the sweeter the parsnip. Choose smaller rather than larger
parsnips, which tend to be woodier. As with most root
vegetables, parsnips can typically be found year-round, but
winter and early spring parsnips are usually the sweetest
because more starches have time to turn into sugars while
parsnips are frozen underground. If leafy greens are attached to
parsnips, always remove them before storing to prevent the
greens from pulling moisture out of the root. Store parsnips in
the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Parsnips are a relatively
underutilized vegetable, but these sweet root veggies are just as
versatile as carrots. Parsnips pair well with a large variety of
other foods, including other veggies, fruits, and legumes, and
their natural sweetness can be effectively used to mellow out
the stronger flavors of other veggies, like broccoli or kale (see
Flavor Compatibility Guide).
BEETS
summer to fall
Beets may be found in bunches with their leafy greens still
attached, or loose with no leafy greens. Beets are most often a
deep garnet-red color, but can be found in a wide variety of
colors, including red, golden, white, and candy cane striped
(Chioggia beets). Choose small or medium-size beets, which
typically have optimal flavor and tenderness. Beet skin should be
firm and smooth, with a deep color. Avoid beets that have spots,
bruises, or soft, wet areas, all of which indicate spoilage. Beets
can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month. If leafy
greens are attached to beets, always remove them before
storing to prevent the greens from pulling moisture out of the
root. The leafy greens attached to beets are a highly nutritious
part of the vegetable. Rather than discarding these greens,
steam or sauté them for a tasty adult side dish. Beets are
naturally very sweet, but they also tend to have a strong earthy
flavor that many babies appreciate having diluted with a fruit like
apples or pears (see Flavor Compatibility Guide). Be aware that
consuming beets may cause a red color to appear in the urine
and/or stools of some people, but this is not a cause for
concern, as it is just undigested pigment from the beets.
TURNIPS
fall to winter
Turnips are round, similar to beets, and can range in color from
white to rose to black. The most common turnips are white with
a purplish crown. Choose smaller, young turnips, which are the
sweetest. Turnips should be dense and firm, with no soft spots. If
leafy greens are still attached, they should be bright green and
not wilted. Always remove them before storing, to prevent the
greens from pulling moisture out of the root. Like beets, the
leafy greens attached to turnips are a highly nutritious part of
the vegetable. Rather than discarding these nutritious greens,
consider steaming or sautéeing them for a tasty adult side dish.
Turnips can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Turnips tend to have an earthy, woody flavor that benefits from
combining with sweeter flavors. Try pairing turnips with apples,
pears, or carrots, along with a sprinkle of cinnamon, for a
warming winter meal (see Flavor Compatibility Guide).
SWEET POTATOES
fall to winter
There are several varieties of sweet potatoes, and all can be
used for baby food, but the Garnet, Jewel, and Beauregard
varieties are typically the moistest. The skin color of these
varieties can range from copper-orange to red to purple, with a
bright to dark orange flesh. Select sweet potatoes that are firm,
with no visible signs of decay. Evenly shaped potatoes are easier
to cut into uniform sizes for even cooking. Do not store sweet
potatoes in the refrigerator, which can produce hardening and a
degraded flavor. As with any kind of potatoes, store in a cool,
dry, well-ventilated container, where they can last for up to one
month. Sweet potatoes, as their name implies, are very sweet
when cooked, and seem to be universally loved by babies. Along
with their natural sweetness, sweet potatoes have a creamy
texture that pairs well with many other vegetables, legumes, and
fruits. A favorite pairing for my babies was always sweet
potatoes and broccoli (see Flavor Compatibility Guide).

Cantaloupe or Honeydew Melon

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Cantaloupe or Honeydew
Melon
NO-COOK RECIPE •• MAKES 15 (2-TABLESPOON) FREEZER TRAY CUBES
3 cups cubed cantaloupe or honeydew melon flesh
(from about ½ of a whole melon)
Cut the melon in half, then scoop out and discard the seeds
in each half. Cut each half into quarters, then run a knife
between the flesh and rind to remove the rind and adjacent
green layer. Chop 3 cups of melon fruit, place in a blender
or food processor, and puree until smooth. No additional
water will be needed.
Pour the puree into a freezer tray and cover with plastic
wrap or waxed paper. Place the freezer tray in the freezer
for 24 hours, or until completely set, then transfer frozen
cubes from the freezer tray into a labeled freezer storage
bag.
Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are simply fruits that have been dehydrated.
Dried fruits are available year-round and are a
wonderful option when fresh fruits are not in season.
Common dried fruits that are readily available and
appropriate for baby include dried plums (prunes),
apricots, and figs, and all can be prepared the same
way.
DRIED PLUMS (PRUNES), APRICOTS, AND FIGS
year-round
When purchasing dried fruits, select fruits with no added sugars
or sulfites (which can be labeled as a variation of sulfite, bisulfite,
metabisulfite, or sulfur dioxide). Sulfites are a common food
preservative added to products like dried fruits, but are well
known to cause food sensitivities and even allergies for some
people. It is necessary to read the label of any package to ensure
selection of pure, dehydrated fruit with no additives. Also, be
sure to select dried fruits that have already been pitted (seeds
have been removed). Dried fruits can be found prepackaged or
in the bulk section of some supermarkets. Dried fruits can last for
several months when stored in a dry location. Note that dried
plums (prunes) are a natural laxative and should be used in
moderation unless trying to alleviate constipation

Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, or Strawberries

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NO-COOK RECIPE •• MAKES 15 (2-TABLESPOON) FREEZER TRAY CUBES
1 pint (16 ounces) berries
Remove any stems. (The easiest way to remove stems from
strawberries is to slide a straw in through the center from
bottom to top, lifting out the entire stem and cap.) Place
berries in a blender or food processor and puree until
smooth. Add water, if necessary, until desired consistency is
reached.
Pour the puree into a freezer tray and cover with plastic
wrap or waxed paper. Place the freezer tray in the freezer
for 24 hours, or until completely set, then transfer frozen
cubes from the freezer tray into a labeled freezer storage
bag.
NOTE
Strawberries are considered a highly acidic fruit to
which some babies (though not all) may exhibit a
food sensitivity. Common manifestations of sensitivity
include severe diaper rash and other skin
inflammation. Feel free to try strawberries, but if a
sensitivity is apparent, delay reintroduction until
sometime between baby’s first and second birthdays.
Melons
Melons actually belong to the same gourd family as
squash, but they are sweeter, juicier, and treated as
fruits. Most melons have a hard outer shell, thick flesh,
and a seed-filled midsection. Whole melons will typically
be larger than needed to meet the recipe yields here.
Refrigerate remaining melon for later. Melons have a
high water content, so when serving to baby, combine
melon purees with thicker foods, such as bananas or
cereal purees.
WATERMELON
summer
Ripe watermelons will be firm, dense, and evenly shaped, and
have a deep-pitched tone when slapped with the bottom of
your palm. Avoid watermelons that are partially white or pale
green (underripe) or have soft spots. Yellow color on one side is
where the fruit was in contact with the ground and is not an
indication of quality or ripeness. Whole watermelons store well
on the kitchen counter or can be refrigerated for up to three
weeks. Watermelon pairs well with other melons and berries (see
Flavor Compatibility Guide). Pieces of cold watermelon also
make for an excellent finger food when baby is ready, and serve
as an effective relief for gums that are sore from teething.
CANTALOUPE
summer
The stem end of a ripe cantaloupe will have a fragrant, sweet,
musky aroma and will be slightly soft. There should be large
webbing on the skin, and a yellow or orange-tinged color. A
very juicy melon will produce a sound of rattling seeds when
shaken. White-yellow color on one side of the melon is where
the fruit was in contact with the ground and is not an indication
of quality or ripeness. Avoid melons that have green coloring or
have portions of the stem remaining, indicating they were
harvested too early. After harvesting, melons will continue to
ripen but sugar content does not increase. Also avoid melons
with soft, sunken, or dark spots. Whole cantaloupes store well on
the kitchen counter or can be refrigerated for up to three
weeks. Cantaloupe pairs well with many fruits, particularly other
melons and berries (see Flavor Compatibility Guide).
HONEYDEW MELON
summer
Ripe honeydew melon will have a creamy yellow-colored rind
and pale green flesh. Large honeydews (around 5 pounds)
typically have the best flavor. Honeydews should be firm, with a
slight softness at the stem end. The rattle of seeds when shaken
can identify a juicy melon. Avoid melons that are too firm, too
soft, blemished, or greenish. Whole melons store well on the
kitchen counter or can be refrigerated for up to three weeks.
Honeydew melon pairs well with other melons and berries (see
Flavor Compatibility Guide).

Avocados

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NO-COOK RECIPE •• MAKES 15 (2-TABLESPOON) FREEZER TRAY CUBES
1½ pounds avocados (about 4 avocados)
Cut avocados in half lengthwise and remove the seed.
Scoop out the green and yellow avocado flesh, discarding
the outer skin. Place flesh directly in a blender or food
processor and puree until smooth. No additional water will
be needed.
Pour the puree into a freezer tray and cover with plastic
wrap or waxed paper. Place the freezer tray in the freezer
for 24 hours, or until completely set, then transfer frozen
cubes from the freezer tray into a labeled freezer storage
bag.
Berries
Nothing screams summer like vibrantly colored, sweet
berries. Berries are powerhouses of phytonutrients and
their tiny seeds are all edible. All berries featured here
can be prepared the same way.
BLUEBERRIES
summer
There are two main types of blueberries sold in the United
States, including cultivated (highbush) and wild (lowbush), both
of which are fine for baby. Ripe berries should have a deep blue
color, and skins should have a white sheen called a “bloom,”
which is a sign of freshness. Berries should be firm, dry, and
plump, with smooth skins. Check for any signs of mold, and if
present, choose a different batch. Blueberries will not continue
to ripen after pulling from the vine, so avoid purchasing
underripe berries. Store fresh blueberries in the refrigerator and
wash just before use, not ahead of time, or they will deteriorate
faster. Blueberries are one of the very few “blue” foods available
to incorporate into baby’s rainbow of foods, and they combine
well with any other fruits (see Flavor Compatibility Guide).
RASPBERRIES
midsummer to early fall
Fresh raspberries are fragile and should be purchased only one
to two days prior to use. Choose berries that are plump and firm,
with a vibrant red color. Avoid berries that are mushy or moldy,
or those in a container with any water at the bottom, which are
all signs of spoilage. Raspberries will not continue to ripen after
pulling from the vine. Store fresh raspberries in the refrigerator
and wash just before use, not ahead of time, or they will
deteriorate faster. Raspberries have a slightly tart, slightly floral,
and almost citrusy flavor that pairs well with any other fruit as
well as spinach (see Flavor Compatibility Guide). Older babies
who have moved on to finger foods love a fun game of eating
raspberries off of their fingertips!
BLACKBERRIES
summer
Blackberries are extremely fragile and perishable. They should
be purchased only one to two days prior to use. Choose berries
that are plump and firm, with a vibrant black or dark purple
color. Avoid berries that are mushy or moldy, or those in a
container with any water at the bottom, which are all signs of
spoilage. Blackberries will not continue to ripen after pulling
from the vine. Store fresh blackberries in the refrigerator and
wash just before use, not ahead of time, or they will deteriorate
faster. Blackberries tend to be slightly less sweet than other
berries, but still pair well with all fruits, especially melons (see
Flavor Compatibility Guide).
STRAWBERRIES
spring (California and Florida), early summer (most local
strawberries in other parts of the United States)
Select strawberries that are dry with a bright, deep red color
and glossy appearance, with fresh green caps. Avoid
strawberries that have turned dull or bluish or have started
leaking fluid. Strawberries will not continue to ripen after pulling
from the vine. Store fresh strawberries in the refrigerator and
wash just before use, not ahead of time, or they will deteriorate
faster. Strawberries pair well with all fruits, and form a nice
complement to leafy green veggies, like spinach, kale, and chard
(see Flavor Compatibility Guide).

Bananas

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1½ pounds ripe bananas (about 5 bananas)
Peel bananas, then place banana flesh in a blender or food
processor and puree until smooth. No additional water will
be needed.
Pour the puree into a freezer tray and cover with plastic
wrap or waxed paper. Place the freezer tray in the freezer
for 24 hours, or until completely set, then transfer frozen
cubes from the freezer tray into a labeled freezer storage
bag.

Cherries

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Free picture () from https://torange.biz/fx/cherries-tree-vivid-colors-fragment-fruit-39888

Cherries
NO-COOK RECIPE •• MAKES 15 (2-TABLESPOON) FREEZER TRAY CUBES
1 pound fresh or frozen sweet cherries
Remove stems and pit cherries, either with a cherry pitter
tool (the easiest method) or by cutting cherries in half and
removing pits by hand. Place cherries in a blender or food
processor and puree until smooth. Additional water
probably will not be needed.
Pour the puree into a freezer tray and cover with plastic
wrap or waxed paper. Place the freezer tray in the freezer
for 24 hours, or until completely set, then transfer frozen
cubes from the freezer tray into a labeled freezer storage
bag.
NOTE
Pitting fresh cherries will add time to the Amazing
Make-Ahead Strategy timeline; use frozen cherries to
avoid adding extra time.
Tropical and Subtropical Fruits
Tropical and subtropical fruits are grown mostly in areas
with warm climates within the earth’s tropical,
subtropical, and Mediterranean zones. The only
common characteristic shared among these fruits is
their intolerance to frost.
BANANAS
winter–spring (though available year-round)
There are over one thousand varieties of bananas worldwide,
but more than 95 percent of those sold in the United States are
of the Cavendish variety. Ripe bananas will be yellow, with or
without brown spots, and underripe bananas will be greenish.
Bananas should be firm, bright, and the peel should not be
crushed or cut. Other varieties of bananas can be used, but be
sure to check the flavor profile before feeding to baby. Also,
note that although plantains are a banana variety, they must be
cooked and rarely reach the sweetness level of a Cavendish.
Bananas are fragile and should be stored at room temperature
until the ripening process is complete. Slow down the ripening
of very ripe bananas by placing them in the refrigerator. Outer
skins will continue to brown, but the inner fruit will not. Beware
that refrigerating bananas irreversibly halts ripening. Bananas
pair well with almost any puree (see Flavor Compatibility Guide),
and work particularly well at mellowing out the flavor profiles of
more strongly flavored veggies, such as broccoli and kale.
Bananas can also be very easily prepared for baby by simply
mashing with a fork and serving, with no processing required.
However, during the initial stages of introducing solid foods, you
will need to make sure there are no lumps, or baby may reject
the texture. A banana is also the perfect on-the-go food.
MANGOES
spring to summer (domestic), fall to winter (imported)
Over one thousand varieties of mangoes currently exist, any of
which can be used for baby food. Ataulfo (Champagne) mangoes
are supersweet and creamy (and also have a high flesh-to-seed
ratio), making them an excellent choice for baby if you can find
them. A ripe mango will have a full, fruity aroma emitting from
the stem end, and be slightly soft to the touch. The bestflavored
fruit have a yellow tinge when ripe; however, skin color
may be red, yellow, green, or orange. Mangoes will continue to
ripen at room temperature, but ripening will be suppressed if
refrigerated. Mangoes pair very well with most fruits as well as
beans (see Flavor Compatibility Guide).
KIWIFRUIT
fall to winter (domestic), spring to summer (imported)
Interestingly, kiwifruit is native to northern China and was
originally known as Chinese gooseberry. When cultivation
spread to New Zealand and popularity of the fruit increased,
New Zealanders changed the fruit’s name to match that of its
national symbol, the kiwi bird, due to their shared small, brown,
and furry physical characteristics. The fuzzy brown skins are
entirely edible, but only when baby is a bit older, closer to the
age of twelve months. When selecting kiwifruit, choose those
with firm, unblemished brown skin. A ripe kiwifruit will give to
slight pressure when pressed. Kiwifruit will keep for several days
at room temperature and for up to one month in the
refrigerator. In addition to combining very well with many fruits
(see Flavor Compatibility Guide), kiwifruit pairs well with meats,
as it contains an enzyme (actinidin) that helps break down
protein, tenderizing meat and helping with its digestion.
PAPAYA
summer to fall
There are many different types of papayas, but the most
common papaya variety sold in the United States is the solo
papaya from Hawaii. These papayas will have green skin that
turns golden yellow when ripe. Ripe papayas will be slightly soft
to the touch. Papayas will continue to ripen when stored at
room temperature, but ripening will slow down if placed in the
refrigerator. In addition to combining very well with most fruits
(see Flavor Compatibility Guide), papayas are a great
complement to meats, as they contain an enzyme (papain) that
helps to break down protein, tenderizing meat and helping with
its digestion.
FIGS
late spring to fall
There are several different varieties of figs. Black Mission figs are
one of the sweetest varieties, making them an excellent choice
for baby. Black Mission figs have dark purple skins and a light
pink–colored flesh. When selecting figs, they should be very soft
(but not mushy) and plump, with a rich color, unbroken skin, and
stems intact. Fresh figs should have a mildly sweet aroma; if
there is even the slightest fermented odor, the figs are no good.
Figs do not ripen after harvesting, so be sure to choose figs that
are fully ripe. Fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits,
and will usually only keep for one to two days in the refrigerator
after purchasing. The dried version of figs can be readily found
all year-round. Figs pair particularly well with berries (see Flavor
Compatibility Guide), as well as meats. Figs contain an enzyme
(ficin) that helps break down protein, tenderizing meat and
helping with its digestion.
AVOCADOS
summer (California), winter (Florida), fall (imported)
Avocados are an exceptional fruit, and I consider them to be a
staple in any baby’s diet. Avocados are very nutrient dense,
providing healthy unsaturated fats as well as a long list of other
essential nutrients. Although there are almost five hundred
different varieties of avocados, Hass avocados are the most
common in the United States. Hass avocados can change from a
dark green to a deep purple-black color when ripe. To check for
ripeness, hold the avocado in the palm of your hand. Without
using fingertips (to avoid bruising), gently squeeze the avocado.
If it yields to firm gentle pressure, the avocado is ripe. If the
avocado does not yield to gentle pressure, it will be ripe in a
couple of days. If the avocado feels mushy, it may be overripe.
The skin should be tight with no visible spotting, which can
indicate infection or bruising. Smell the avocados. They should
not have any aroma. If they have a fermented odor, they are no
good. One avocado with even slight fermentation will ruin your
entire puree batch. Store avocados at room temperature until
fully ripe. Fully ripe avocados can be stored in the refrigerator
for up to three additional days. Along with their exceptional
nutrient content, avocados have a creamy texture and a
relatively neutral flavor profile, allowing for great flexibility when
pairing with other purees to create a filling and nutrientbalanced
meal for baby. I love to pair avocados with beans and
tropical fruits like mangoes (see Flavor Compatibility Guide). Like
bananas, avocados are a great on-the-go food that can be
prepared by simply mashing with a fork. However, during the
initial stages of introducing solid foods, you will need to make
sure there are no lumps or baby may reject the texture.

Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Apricots, or Hybrid Stone Fruits

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1½ pounds stone fruit
Cut the fruit into chunks, discarding the pits. Place the fruit
in a blender or food processor and puree, adding water (¼
to ½ cup) if necessary, until desired consistency is reached.
Pour the puree into a freezer tray and cover with plastic
wrap or waxed paper. Place the freezer tray in the freezer
for 24 hours, or until completely set, then transfer frozen
cubes from the freezer tray into a labeled freezer storage
bag.