How To Prevent Homemade Baby Food From Browning

Homemade baby food with broccoli and green beans

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There are so many benefits of making your own baby food at home, like saving money and sharing the same foods and flavors that the rest of the family enjoys, as well as controlling what goes into your baby's food.

If you've made your own baby food before, such as a banana purée, you might have experienced some discoloration after freezing and thawing it.

Homemade baby food turning brown is a common scenario that occurs in fruits and vegetables (some more than others). You should know that browning isn't indicative of a dangerous batch of baby food—it just means that the process of oxidation has created a browning. When food is puréed, there is more surface area to be affected by oxidation.

Oxidation

Browning (or oxidation) occurs when the cut surfaces of fruits and vegetables are exposed to oxygen or air. The puréed aspect of baby food speeds up the discoloration because it creates more surface area.

Provided that you've chosen fresh, clean produce that hasn't spoiled, browning is almost always an aesthetic problem rather than a nutritional or safety one.

As unappetizing as browned (oxidized) food may look, it's still completely safe to eat.

How to Prevent Browning

There are a few things you can do to keep your baby food looking fresher longer:

  • Add juice. Sprinkle a few drops of citrus juice—lemon, lime, or orange—into the purée to slow down oxidation. The juice contains ascorbic acid which prevents oxidation.
  • Freeze it. Immediately after preparing the baby food put small portions in an airtight container in the freezer. Then, thaw only what's needed for each feeding.
  • Invest in a vacuum sealer. Vacuum seal the baby food to keep air out and prevent browning.
  • Make certain purées as needed rather than in advance. Popular baby food ingredients like bananas don't freeze well. These aren't the best options to prepare beforehand. Instead, prepare them on the spot. All you have to do is mash and serve, which means you won't have to worry about browning.

Citrus Allergy Concerns

Adding a splash of citrus juice to your baby food purée is the most widely recommended way to slow down browning.

However, you might have heard that you should avoid giving your baby citrus fruits until they are closer to a year old. This is no longer the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

If you have concerns about allergic reactions to citrus, ask your family pediatrician about your baby's risk.

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