Smooth Like Butter: Apple Butter.

When Little One started getting older, around 4-5 months, we started thinking about foods. At least I did – the Significant Other was affably all ears but was also perfectly fine with me steering the ship. Probably because it’s de rigeur, I first connected with “Baby Led Weaning” (letting baby choose from an array of solids with no hands-on help from ‘rents) and went from there.

Eventually we settled into a rhythm of “BLW” plus some purees, some help with feeding, but mostly letting Baby Fifi guide us with how she wanted to start eating solids. It’s an exhilarating thing (at least for this over-eager home chef) to help someone try, say, lox for the first time (loved) or avocado (not so much).

My biggest caveat throughout her introductory phase into foods (and through now – she was 11 months yesterday!) is that she eat whole, unprocessed foods and as much from scratch as possible. Preservatives, chemicals, unnatural nutrients from “food-like substances” that aren’t optimal for our cells to simply metabolize…no thank you. I’ve always been the primary cook in our household and it’s how I’ve chosen to nourish SO and myself as well.

Of course we don’t always eat so perfectly…

…but when it’s something more sweet or fatty or carb-laden (oh hello, fresh-baked rosemary bread with butter, guhhh) it’s as a delightful indulgence  and not the norm (nor something to feel guilty about for days on end). Really, I’ve always just tried to find us a balance of whole, healthful, super-appetizing foods with not so much cost and preparations that fit into our decently busy lifestyles. TBH kind of a tall order but one that I feel passionate about, so it has never felt like work to pursue.

In any case, I started to think – a lot – about what I could prep for Fiona that was easy-ish and nutritious for our precious little bean. There was a lot of trial and error (and still very much is ) and I just kept reiterating the fact that babies are programmed to not like new flavors/textures right away and that they have to taste something approximately 7.2 billion times before they even think about liking it. Thus far we’ve been lucky that she’s accepted most things in that she’s a good eater and hopefully developing a little palate that appreciates the kind of food we like to eat also.

Greatest hits right now at 11 months: frozen blueberries that have thawed (nice and squishy and relatively easy for little fingers to pick-up), whole-fat Greek yogurt with some kind of fruit or berry and flax meal, million-grain toast with hummus (TBH toast with anything!), and what this whole post is about: apple butter.

Now I really know nothing about making apple butter. I thought, when I decided to make it, that I was making apple sauce. I think ultimately we ended up with a hybrid for this first batch. As with many first time recipes that I do, I read several different recipes on the Internetz to get a general feel of the preparation and then decided to partially wing it. Three 3-pounds bags of apples later, I had a crockpot of delicious goodness for little girl! Here’s what I did:

  • Bought 9 lbs of Fuji apples (for like $10 total…thanks Aldi!)
  • Soaked and rinsed with water-white vinegar and then cored the apples
  • Cut ’em up and threw ’em in the trusty ol’ Crockpot with a pinch of cinnamon-sugar
  • Put it on low (not warm, not high, right in between) overnight
  • Woke up and picked about half the peels out (for future batches I’ve saved these peels and froze in hopes of using to make dog treats – the first time I just put  them in the compost bucket along with the cores etc.)
  • Immersion blended and ended up with very roughly about 4 cups of smooth, surprisingly dark sauce
  • Put into my trusty, fabulous glass baby-food jars
  • Fed to Fiona at room temp as we beamed at each other in mutual apple sauce-butter appreciation 🙂

I think if I let the apple sauce-butter go a little longer it would become true apple butter in that glossy, dark, rich way that Mother Google tells me it should. I’m okay with the way it turned out for us just because Fiona seems to really like it...and I feel great about making her food myself and skipping the processed junk.

I also really liked leaving at least some of the peels because that’s where a lot of the fibrous nutritional value in apples lies. It did have slightly, uh…laxative benefits for her but nothing bad as far as diaper blowouts, more like just a really healthy BM <–forgive the poop talk – I am an RN after all and aren’t we all at least vaguely interested in GI function after having little ones? 😉

Anyone else make apple sauce for their littles? I tried half Fuji and half green apple too and it was tasty and tart, plus a batch of all Red Delish that got highest points from the hubs as the best “apple pie” taste. Thoughts on different apple varietals for sauce? Anyone use reusable pouches instead of baby-food jars? Let me know in the comments!

-Alex, head MomScout

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