Purple beets have such a lovely spring color. I thought it would be nice to do an informative post on beet baby food – How to select the beets, how to prepare them, how to store them and why they are so gosh darn good for your baby.
How old to feed baby beets and why are beets so good for baby
The prevailing wisdom tell us baby must be 8- 10 months months old to eat cooked beats. I say keep it safe and use the nine month mark as your guide. Raw and grated beets, a bit more rare to feed baby, is for the 10-11 month old. Although beets are not one of EWG’s dirty dozen, there is a nitrate issue with beets. By 9 month’s old however, that nitrate risk is no longer an issue. Beets are so darn healthy for baby (and you too!) because they contain calcium, potassium, Vitamin A and high fiber. With such a great nutrition report card, I know you are excited to get started feeding beets to your baby.
The ins and outs of feeding your baby beets
Grated beets can be fed to your baby raw. Cooked beets are tasty and very colorful. They can be used as a decorative touch or even a food coloring in baby’s food. Beets do stain, so use a good bib when feeding your baby beets. Beet stains are impossible to get out of cloth, plastic surfaces and wood. Stool alert: Be aware that several hours after your baby eats beets, her stool will be quite red in color.
Choosing and Storing Beets
Equivalents: 6 medium beets = 1 pound = 2 cups sliced.
In season: Available year round; peak June through October.
Choosing: Beets are sold with or without their green tops. The tops, called “beet greens,” should be fresh-looking, thin-ribbed, and deep green, with no brown or red edges, and with no trace of slime. If they are a little wilted, the flavor of the red root should not be affected because the greens rapidly deteriorate while the root remains good. Beet greens are edible.
Beets without their greens should have at least 1⁄2 inch of stem left on top and their bottom roots should be at least two inches long. The bulbous root should have a lush, deep red color and smooth, firm skin with no cuts or soft spots. Roots should have no scaly areas or circles on the top and they should be a nice round shape, not elongated.
Buy small to medium-sized beets, as large beets tend to be tough with inedible, woody cores.
Storing: As with other root vegetables, immediately remove the greens so that they do not pull moisture from the root. Leave an inch or two of stem on the root, or it will bleed during cooking. Store beets in the refrigerator wrapped in organic, bleach-free wax paper and then in a plastic bag for up to 10 days.
Preparing and cooking beets for baby food preparation
Preparation for cooking: Scrub well under cold-running water.
Steam: Wonderful for holding in nutrients but you need the time, it takes about 60 minutes!
Boil: Simmer whole beets for two hours. Peels will easily come off and juices will be better retained in whole beets.
Bake: Wash thoroughly, place on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 90 minutes to two hours—the larger the beets, the longer the baking time.
Peel and purée: After cooking beets, remove stems. If you wish, slip off peels under cold running water before puréeing.
Freezing: Use the Baby Food Cube Method or Tray-Freeze Method, and keep for up to 2 months. Remember to store in a stainless steel ice cube tray and then store in a organic waxed paper lined plastic freezer bag.
For even more information, take a peek at Super Baby Food, 3rd edition. It includes a complete alphabetical list of fruits and vegetables with same information included as shown above!