My girls love butternut squash! I'm trying to make all their baby food from fresh produce, but butternut squash (along with other varieties of squash and pumpkin) is one of those not so quick things to cook. The microwave is really something I am trying to avoid and I'm always looking for the fastest and best ways to maintain as many of the food's nutrients while cooking.
The first time I made butternut squash for the girls, I tried out my electric steamer (see picture below...butternut squash on the bottom, sweet potato on top). This method worked pretty well, but I still had to regularly check on the squash (and sweet potato) to make sure it didn't get so soft that it fell apart, falling through the slots in the trays. This method did work pretty well for preparing both foods simultaneously.
The other day, I was reading one of my recent favorite blogs, Wholesome Baby Food, and I read about cooking pumpkin in the crockpot to be used for purees. What a great idea! I thought this would surely work for butternut squash as well. So, I went at it...
Earlier this week, I purchased 3 beautiful organic butternut squashes that were on sale at New Seasons for a great price...$0.99/lb. I estimated that two of them would probably fit in my large crockpot and the other I saved for my dinner tonight (butternut squash bisque...yummy!).
Do you notice the rubber gloves in the picture? You'll need a pair of those to wear while peeling your squash. I know this from experience. If you don't wear gloves, your hands will be covered with this dried super glue like substance that is released from the skin of the squash. I have heard there are some who have not had this experience, but if I were you, I wouldn't take the risk. It's awful!
Start by washing your squash, and then put your gloves on and start peeling. You'll need to peel away approximately 2-3 layers to get to the meat of the squash. You don't want to see those green veins all over. Once the squash is all peeled, cut it in half lengthwise, scoop and toss out the seeds, and then chop it in chunks. I left them pretty decent size chunks.
Toss the chunks in your crockpot (I use a crockpot liner bag for easy clean up) and put in 1/2-1 cup of water (I used 1 cup of water for the 2 squashes). Put on the lid and set on low for 3-4 hours. I let mine go 4 hours and it was perfect!
Let the squash cool down a little and toss the squash and any liquid into the food processor. You may need to do it in batches. Run your food processor until your squash is the consistency you would like.
I freeze my purees in cube trays. Mine are specifically for baby food, with lids for easy stacking, but any ice cube trays will work. Once frozen, empty the cubes in freezer bags and they are easy to pull out the serving(s) you need.
Once your baby is at an age where they can have spices (check with your pediatrician), you could add nutmeg, cinnamon or vanilla to your squash, prior to cooking, as well.
I purchased a few pie pumpkins this week as well. Those will be next.