Friday, May 21, 2010

first carrots

slim carrots

I had my doubts about carrots. It doesn’t matter that I like all formats of carrot, gleefully pickling them, shredding them, roasting them and even puréeing them into salad dressing, I failed to see how carrot mush could be appetizing for a 7-month old. Perhaps I underestimated his taste buds. Then again, this is a 7-month old who likes to lick (lick! aah! way to send an otherwise calm mama into a Purell-dousing frenzy) the chain on the swings at New York City public parks, perhaps I actually overestimated them.


Still, it took me a couple tries to get it right. Thinking we’d start solids earlier than we did, I steamed a batch a few months ago. And steamed them. And steamed them some more. Did I mention the steaming? It took forever. They never got very soft. Cranked (and cranked and cranked) through a food mill on the finest setting, they never got silky smooth. This was not a promising start. Next, I bought carrots from the Greenmarket that were kinda duds, somewhat bitter and flat-tasting. Finally, I bought a bundle of organic carrots with the green tops on from Whole Foods and simmered them with water. (I warned you these early recipes might cause yawns, didn’t I?) They were sweet, they cooked up “like butta”, puréed into the most velvety smooth sauce and seriously, seriously, the baby went apey over them. He tried to eat the spoon.

spoon eater carrot face

First Carrots

1 pound bundle of carrots (I found that the slim ones with the greens still attached were the sweetest)
1 cup water

Trim and peel carrots, then cut them into 1-inch segments. Put them in a medium saucepan with the water or broth. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 25 minutes (this will take longer if your carrots are thicker). Let cool in cooking liquid. Purée in a food processor, blender or food mill and freeze in small portions.

Read more here about the way I approach the processing and storing of homemade baby food.

Ideas for future carrot purées: Swap the water for a sodium-free broth, add a teaspoon or two of minced dill or a pinch of cumin and/or coriander.

Carrot tip: This is probably not revolutionary to anyone else, by any means, but I went most of my life mourning carrots that had become bendy and dry in the fridge, thinking they’d reached the end of their carrot lifespan prematurely. It blew my carrot-loving mind to learn than they could be “refreshed”, their snap and sometimes sweetness restored, by either storing them in cold water in the fridge, or soaking them in cold water for a while before using them, if they’ve been stored dry. I cannot tell you how many bundles of carrots I’ve saved since with this rescue mission.