How to make fruit and vegetable purees

Flavorful puree base, no gooey mess

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Whether you're looking for some healthier ways to bolster your diet without adding extra fat or just a healthier way to feed your infant, pureeing fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to control the flavor, salt and fat content of your purees.

While methods vary depending on the fruit or veggie you need, learning to puree your own has a multitude of health and culinary benefits — and it's really easy.

Select your tools

You can certainly use a food processor, blender or hand mixer to puree vegetables and fruits, but you might also consider some of the alternatives, as not all processors make purees as smoothly.

If you have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, you can purchase a special attachment that will create excellent purees. At just over $100, it's about the same price as a quality food processor that would make similarly textured purees, but doesn't require as much cabinet space for storage.

If you're looking for something that can do it all, try a baby food maker, like the Baby Breeza, which came in as the No. 1 baby food maker in SheKnows 2012 Parenting Awards. As the name implies, it's meant as a device to make your own baby food. But that doesn't mean you can't use it for adult food, too.

The bowl of the Baby Breeza, among others, has a 2-1/2-cup capacity, so it should make plenty of whatever puree you'd like. The difference is, this device doesn't just puree. It steam cooks, defrosts and warms, too. It'll run you around the same price as the KitchenAid attachment.

How to puree fruits and vegetables

First, wash the fruits or vegetables. If necessary, peel them and remove any seeds.

Unless you're using a baby food processor that does all steps for you, boil any veggies or fruits that aren't already soft.

Using your food processor, blender, hand mixer, KitchenAid attachment or baby food processor, puree the fruit or vegetable until it's the consistency of baby food. Add a teaspoon or so of water if necessary to get the right consistency.

Once you're accustomed to cooking with purees (or as your child ages if you're using it for baby food), you can add seasonings or make mixes. A little nutmeg is a delicious add-in for bananas or apples. If your baby doesn't like carrots, add a little sweetness with some homemade applesauce.

How to use fruit and vegetable purees

Now that you know how to make them, you're probably wondering how to use the purees. Fruit purees can be used in place of the oil in many baked goods. You can use vegetable purees to replace some or all of fattier ingredients in many savory dishes. Try your mac and cheese with a squash puree and a smaller amount of extra flavorful cheeses.

There are plenty of recipes using purees online. But it's more fun to experiment with your own concoctions. What do you plan to make?

Try these recipes using purees

Cauliflower steak and puree recipe (vegetarian)
White bean herb puree
Cauliflower puree topped with crisp coconut chicken

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix the Fish. You can follow her on Twitter @HireHeather.

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