An Apple a Day: Your Guide to Nutritious Apple Dishes for Your Baby
The old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” predates most modern knowledge about vitamins and nutrition. It turns out to be a very, very accurate representation of the power packed into this little fruit, though. That’s one of the reasons so many parents look at making homemade apple foods for their babies and toddlers. If you are wondering just how you can make use of this supremely nutritious fruit, read on to learn everything you need to know to safely serve apples to kids of all ages.
How Old Should My Baby Be Before Trying Apples?
Apples are safe to give to any child that has been weaned, so as soon as you start working on solid foods you can give babies apple products. There are some steps you need to take to prepare them, though:
- Children under 8 months need apples peeled and pureed.
- Continue peeling apples for toddlers as finger foods until you are sure their digestive systems can handle the skins.
- Cut apples for finger foods to remove cores and seeds before serving them.
Every child’s optimum age to start digesting apple skins is a little different, and it doesn’t hurt to be a little conservative with your estimate if it saves your baby an upset stomach.
How do I Pick Fresh, High Quality Apples?
There are a lot of choices when it comes to apple varieties, and each has been carefully cultivated to yield different colors, flavors, and sizes. This makes shopping for fresh apples a complicated endeavor, because you need to find both the best variety for your purposes and the freshest apple that will do the job. Epicurious points out that fall season apples keep the longest, so that is generally when you want to plan to stock up if you are looking to make and put away food in bulk. Summer varieties do not keep as long, but they are great as finger food if you have a toddler.
While it’s true that apples develop a blush and/or redden fully as they ripen, there are enough varieties that stay totally or mostly green to make this a difficult way to measure ripeness. Instead, experts recommend you run your finger over the skin. An overripe apple that has not been coated with food wax will feel waxy. If it has been coated with wax, you can check for soft spots or bruises instead. Those reduce the shelf life of the apple and provide vulnerable spots for pests.
There are different varieties with different flavor profiles, so the key is to work with your local apple selection until you find a blend that is ideal for your recipes.
What Should I do to Keep Stored Apples Fresh?
Cold is the key to keeping apples fresh. They respond so well to cold storage that it is typically used to keep apples fresh for month once they are out of season. At home, it is difficult to get the same results that industrial storage facilities achieve, but you can still keep apples for weeks or even months in the right combination of cold and balanced humidity. Store your apples in a plastic bag, and keep a damp cloth at the bottom of your produce drawer to help with humidity. Some sources report keeping apples good all the way from October to May with this method.
Apple Baby Food Recipes to Please All Tastebuds
There are a few perennial classics you can use to make sure your baby or toddler gets enough of the vitamins, minerals, and plant fiber that make apples so nutritious for anyone, regardless of age. Applesauce as baby food has been popular for generations, but there are other options you can use for variety as your baby grows, so check out the suggestions below to find your perfect apple snack recipes.
Apple Puree for Baby Food
This recipe delivers a healthy, balanced pureed apple baby food that you can use in place of sweeter applesauce to keep your baby’s sugar intake under control.
- Peel and core all your apples
- Chop the remaining apple chunks into small cubes
- Boil them in a medium saucepan for about 10 minutes
- Check them every 3 minutes after that for tenderness
- When apples are tender, pull them off the heat
- Mash the apple by hand or puree in a food processor
You can serve this applesauce immediately after it has cooled.
The steps that go into creating sweet applesauce are almost identical to the apple baby food recipe. The biggest difference is the use of spices and a little extra sugar. For every pound of apples, add a teaspoon of vanilla, three tablespoons of sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon if so desired. Add the cinnamon and vanilla at the beginning of step three and the sugar during the puree process. The result will be a sweet applesauce. Be sure to check with a pediatrician before introducing vanilla, cinnamon, or extra sugar.
Baked Apples For Babies
This recipe makes tender baked apples you can use to introduce babies to solid apples before moving on to finger food.
- Peel and core the apples but leave them whole otherwise
- Put a little butter on the inside of each, where the core was
- If the baby is ready for cinnamon, add a little dusting to the outside
- Place the apples in a shallow roast pan with an inch or two of water in the bottom
- Bake for 30 minutes or until tender
- Allow apples to cool before serving them
It can be a great treat for your baby to have warm baked apples, but they still need to cool for about five to ten minutes on a plate before you serve the apples, to get them down to a comfortable temperature.
Wrapping it Up
If you want to vary things up even more, remember that you can easily assemble a finger food bonanza that includes apples if you have a toddler that is starting to crave variety. There are so many things to do, it’s easy to keep finding ways to make apples new again.