One of my favorite things to make for Olive is various fruity “cobblers.” During the winter months in this part of the country, the fruit that is in season is apples, pears, oranges, primarily. I try my best to cook fresh produce that’s in season. The biggest reason is obviously, freshness and quality. But another BIG factor is price. You think it’s too expensive to eat healthy? That’s probably because you’re trying to buy berries in December, or fresh corn in February. Fruits and vegetables in season just taste better, too. The apples and pears this time of year are awesome. And we’ve eaten plenty of them! But it starts to get old and pretty soon I start eyeing those hot-house blueberries, tempted to pay the $4.99 just to have something different.
That’s where frozen fruit comes in to save the day. Fruits that have been frozen are usually picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen. This means really great, concentrated flavor. So during the winter, if you’re planning on cooking the fruit anyway, buy frozen. I really try to offer Olive something new every couple days, but the girl is well-versed in apples and pears. So to branch out, I buy frozen bags of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, mango, and I mix them with oatmeal or yogurts for a naturally sweetened treat.
Olive is not a fan of plain oatmeal. But tell me, who is?! So here’s what I do with the frozen fruit and this makes at least six- 2 ounce portions of baby food in one whack:
One bag of frozen fruit (in this picture, I used black cherries)
2 tbs salted butter
1/2 cup rolled oats (I used Quaker Old Fashioned)
1/2tsp lemon juice
Empty the bag of frozen fruit into a large skillet. I use my non-stick fry pan that’s about 10″ in diameter. Turn the heat to medium and put the salted butter in with the fruit and let it all come up to a simmer. I use salted butter in most things I make for Olive because I don’t add extra salt. I find that it gives enough flavor while going easy on the salt intake. I add a few dashes of cinnamon while it’s bubbling away, but really, you could add any spice you want – nutmeg, clove, orange peel. Whatever you think would be good! For that cobbler effect, a few squeezes of lemon juice really brings out the flavor of the fruit. When the fruit has bubbled for a while and is thickening up a bit, I add about a half cup of oatmeal. If it looks too thick, I add in some water. Too thin, more oatmeal. But it’s rarely too thin. I don’t really let the oats cook, because I find that once they sit in the fruit and juices from the fruit and lemon, that they absorb and have the right consistency when you warm it up to serve after at least a day in the fridge or freezer.
I then transfer the mixture to a tall container and pulse it a few times with my immersion blender. The immersion blender has made making baby food a breeze with minuscule clean up. Then, I just transfer to 2 oz. containers and save one or two for the fridge and put the rest in the freezer. Buying those cute little plastic baby food containers is fine, and I have a few sets of them and use them all the time (they’re great for taking in your purse to a restaurant!) but I’ve found the easiest thing is to use a tin-foil muffin tin that can be found at any grocery store for about a dollar, and they are conveniently 2 ounce portions. I just freeze the food in those, then pop them out, put them into a ziplock bag and done!
I’ve made this recipe with blackberries, raspberries, blueberry banana (the best ever that I may or may not have eaten myself), black cherry, mango, pear and apple. I’m addicted to the simplicity, the variety and knowing that Olive is getting good stuff and trying something new. I have also cooked down fruit and mixed it in with plain, full fat yogurt. She loves it all, so far!
As you can see, she is serious when it comes to eating.