Apples are an ideal first fruit because they're sweet and easy to mix with a variety of baby cereals. In fall, fresh apples are plentiful and inexpensive, as well as delightfully crisp, juicy, and flavorful. Look for firm fruit that's free of bruises and blemishes. Apples that give when you squeeze them will be mushy and unappealing. Since apples are part of the "dirty dozen" -- foods with the highest pesticide residue -- it's a good idea to buy organic. Choose apples with a sweet, mild flavor, such as Red Delicious and Gala apples; avoid tart varieties such as Granny Smith. One medium apple yields about five ounces of puree.
Wash the apple with a mixture of three parts water and one part white vinegar to remove bacteria. Rinse under cool running water, dry, and peel. The easiest way to peel an apple is to use a vegetable peeler and work in a circular motion around the fruit. If you do not have a vegetable peeler, use a sharp paring knife.
Set the peeled apple, stem side up, on a clean cutting board. Slice in half. To remove the core, cup each apple slice in your palm and cut in a shallow scooping motion with a paring knife. Once the core is removed, slice each half into small chunks.
Bring water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Reduce heat until bubbles are soft. Cook apple chunks until tender. Check apples after 10 minutes -- it's important to minimize cooking time to help preserve vitamins and minerals. When apples are tender, drain and rinse with cold water for three minutes to stop the cooking process.
Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add water as needed to reach desired consistency.
For chunkier applesauce, which is ideal for babies 10 months or older, mash the cooked apple with a potato masher instead of pureeing it.
Baby applesauce is extremely versatile. Serve it plain or mix it with another puree or two to introduce your baby to new flavors and textures.
Try mixing apple puree with:
Cool applesauce and refrigerate leftovers in BPA-free containers for up to 3 days. Freeze leftovers for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in your refrigerator.
Note: Always check with your pediatrician before introducing your baby to a new food, particularly if your baby has food allergies. Additionally, some pediatricians do not recommend making your own carrot, beet, or spinach puree because these fresh veggies can be higher in nitrates.