As a parent, are you curious about how long is frozen baby food good for? Research tells us that freezing food to 0°F immobilizes any bacteria, molds, and yeasts that may be present in food. Food constantly frozen at 0°F will always be safe.
However, the quality of food is likely to suffer from prolonged freezer storage. The same goes for baby food. Once thawed, these microbes become active again and multiply under certain conditions and lead to foodborne illnesses in children.
When frozen at peak quality, thawed baby foods taste better than baby food prepared at room temperature. You should keep in mind the freezing process itself does not destroy nutrients. However, it is crucial that all foods must be stored at 0°F or lower to preserve the right texture, color, and nutrients for feeding your children a healthy meal.
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You can store frozen baby food cubes in the freezer for up to 3 months. However, you should ideally consume all frozen baby food within 3 months. Frozen purees can also last up to 1 month when stored at the right temperature.
As water crystals can build up with baby food purees and nutrients may evaporate upon thawing due to these crystals, a three-month storage period is considered ideal for storing frozen baby food. Experts recommend parents to use all frozen baby food within one month of freezing, if possible.
As frozen baby food requires 8 to 12 hours to thaw in the refrigerator, it is best to put the frozen baby food in the fridge the night before. If the food you took out of the freezer and kept in the refrigerator contains fish or chicken, then you must consume it within 24 hours, and within 2 days for all other foods.
You must treat your frozen baby food as disposable items. That means, if your little one doesn’t finish, you must discard everything that is left over. That is important as the risk of bacterial contamination is higher once you refreeze anything that has been defrosted and heated.
How long your baby food lies fresh in the freezer also depends on the quantity of frozen items in the fridge. Assuming you haven’t opened the door, a freezer that is jam-packed gives you fresh food for 48 hours, while the time is cut down to half (24 hours) for a half-full freezer, as per the FDA.
Here are some useful guidelines to help you freeze baby food and keep it fresh for a longer period.
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Use jars, pots and ice cube trays, which you have washed thoroughly at a high temperature. There are several baby food freezer trays and storage containers available in the market. All these items are relatively cheap and help you to preserve food for a long time. Here are a couple of products that are popular on Amazon.com
- OXO Tot Baby Food Freezer Tray with Protective Cover
- Best Homemade Baby Food Storage Container Freezer Trays
After preparation, pour the food into the containers or trays. Place the trays in a plastic bag. Since food expands while freezing, avoid over-filling.
Labeling your food goes a long way. When you label everything (name of the food along with the freezing date), you know which food you should use first.
Freeze baby food on the top shelf of the freezer or as high up as possible. Being the coldest part, it helps keep the food safe for longer periods.
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Apart from chunks and purees, you can freeze baby food in different forms in Ziploc freezer bags. These bags help conserve gravies, soups as well fruits and vegetables.
- Turn apples into applesauce and store.
- Cut grapes into half.
- You should always freeze noodles,
- quinoa, and rice. Thaw them and make a puree.
- Corns and peas can be frozen. Puree them after thawing.
- Lastly, you can freeze cooked oatmeal but puree it as soon as it’s thawed.
Source: wholesome baby food
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Certain foods cannot be frozen, as they may not be as safe as other frozen foods. Avoid freezing them for feeding your babies.
[thrive_headline_focus title=”Precautions to Take While Freezing Baby Food” orientation=”center”]
The ice cube trays available in the market hold around 2 tablespoons of food which is the ideal portion for your baby’s first solids. Here are some useful tips to guarantee your frozen baby food doesn’t go bad:
- Clean all equipment and utensils thoroughly before using. Freezing prevents bacteria growth but doesn’t kill it.
- It is easier to prepare and puree a single food for freezing.
- After cooking, cool the food at room temperature and distribute even portions into washed ice cube trays or containers
- Food should be frozen as quickly as possible to steer clear of bacterial contamination.
- If you stack warm trays on top of each other, freezing shall take up more of your time. Keep individual trays separately.
- Let the food freeze overnight or for at least 8 to 12 hours.
- Use wax paper underneath the trays, so they don’t stick to the other containers in the freezer.
- Once frozen, take out the cubes or portions of baby food from the containers and use freezer bags (not storage bags) to avoid freezer burn.
- Zip each bag shut by leveling the bag to squeeze out as much air as possible. Label them as mentioned above.
- Make sure you always freeze baby food at the right temperature, i.e. below -18°C.
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- Reheat baby food until it’s piping hot. Cool it before feeding it to your baby.
- Then, get to know how much your baby usually eats and try to heat as much as he would eat in one go.
- Avoid feeding the food on the day of defrosting
- Do not refreeze any raw meat once it defrosts for making baby food
Do not heat the frozen baby food in a microwave. Instead of heating baby food in a feeding jar or bowl in the microwave, use indirect heating methods. Thaw it by putting the frozen cube in a silicone bowl and placing it in a boiling pot of shallow water for steaming it.
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One crucial point to keep in mind is that once you reheat the baby food, you should never use those portions again. Frozen baby food must not be heated more than once. Don’t reheat the same serving for multiple meals.
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Let’s quickly summarize our findings:
- Baby food lasts up to 1 to 3 months in the freezer. However, use the baby food within 1 month after freezing as it is the ideal period for maintaining nutritional value and taste.
- Pears, bananas, and some other fruits can undergo natural discoloration when they are exposed to air. To avoid this, add 2 to 4 drops of lemon juice to the fruit before freezing it.
- Take careful considerations while preparing, storing and freezing your baby food. Choose from a variety of Food Freezer Trays, Baby Food Storage Containers and Ziploc freezer bags that you can easily order online.
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If you have any questions on how you can freeze baby food to make it last longer, feel free to comment or share your experiences.