When I started weaning my first I did what I imagine many first time mothers do and buy a whole load of unnecessary and expensive weaning equipment. I purchased these Annabel Karmel Freezer Trays as I hadn't really researched freezer trays and these seemed to be popular and available. I made most of my own food for my son so I knew I would need freezer storage.
They seemed like a good idea - the firm rubber tray has 15 compartments for putting your own food in once it is pureed ready for freezing. It comes with a lid which fits neatly on top. It is quite shallow so it should be easy to find enough freezer space for it, and even in a small freezer you should be able to have space to put one on top of the other.
I ended up with 3 of these trays, 2 were old style ones which I purchased second hand, and what I assumed was a newer one which was far more rigid and the lid had deeper sides and fitted on better.
The idea is that you just take it out of the freezer and 'pop' out how ever many of the cubes you want to defrost and serve. The theory is good and I thought they were a good idea. You can fill the tray with different foods as they are all separate so if you make 3 different meals they can all go in one tray.
I found once we were past the early weaning stages that 2 cubes of food was the perfect amount as there was often a yoghurt etc for pudding. The two older trays were a nightmare to get the food out of. You have to end up dipping just the cubes you want in hot water for a few seconds to get them out. But if the food was in a middle cube and to avoid defrosting other food you really had to turn the cube inside out, by which point your fingers are freezing and they really hurt!
The newer tray wasn't quite as bad, it is more rigid and the food did come out more easily, and if you put fruit in there then this came out very easily.
The portion sizes are good and 2 cubes was spot on for my son. The newer trays do work ok but the worst thing of all is that they are NOT dishwasher safe!! This is just a huge pain as they take so long to wash every single cube out, and if you do a bolognaise then they get very greasy and stained and are really hard work to clean. I did give up in the end and did put them in the dishwasher but they did go all mis-shapen, but I had had enough by then!
They are not cheap at around £8, it seems now that they have re-designed them again and they are not longer translucent but they are a solid green and are only 9 cubes big. So this style may not be on the market anymore.
They are not worth the money, I know now places like Tesco sell weaning freezer trays (I don't think they did a couple of years ago) and they are far cheaper. Don't be pulled in by the Annabel Karmel name!
When David was born in 2010 I decided I wasn't going to fall into the expensive baby food trap so set about doing lots of research into making my own food for him, you'd think I'd know all this by now having four children but as I've always taken the easy (lazy) option of buying jar baby food I was a bit clueless! I found myself on a parenting forum (shudder) and from the judgemental and miserly postings took away one piece of information - an ice cube tray is brilliant for storing small portions of baby food. Which I knew anyway, I'd just forgotten. Anyway, all my kids and their dad love ice in their drinks so I knew it would be a rare occurrence that I came across an ice cube tray and was able to snaffle it for my own use so decided to purchase this specially designed Annabel Karmel 'Foodcube' Tray - much to my annoyance as I'm in a minority of mothers who finds Annabel Karmel to be the most irritating person on the planet, not the to-be-revered God that some (usually first time) mothers see her as.
So I paid my six quid (Jesus!) and toddled, or rather waddled as I was very pregnant by this stage, off home ready for my bundle of joy to arrive and start filling his belly on solids rather than smelly SMA. Weaning day arrived and like a good little housewife I set about batch cooking him a butternut squash and potato soup (I call it soup, after blending it resembled any other pale coloured mush you might feed your baby) and once it had cooled spooned it into the tray. So far, so good. The lid fits on tightly and securely to prevent freezer burn and also to keep the food safe from any 'bits' that may be floating around inside your freezer.
The tray will hold fifteen small portions of food, each portion being slightly bigger than you'd fit in a standard sized ice cube tray but still not allowing you to create larger meals unless you defrost two cubes - which, obviously, is too much. OK, so all babies have different sized appetites but the size of these cubes just seem a little 'off' to me - from day one David had a very big appetite, but even so his little tummy could only handle small(ish) amounts of food. A single cube from this tray often wasn't enough so I'd find myself defrosting the second cube, only to find he'd eat two mouthfuls and be full up! Typical! I suppose this isn't the trays fault but any excuse to blame Annabel Karmel, eh?
The selling point of this Foodcube Tray is that the cubes are easy to get out once they've frozen up, so I looked forward to simply pinging them out at mealtimes. Bah! While the end cubes are fairly easy to remove by twisting the thin flexible tray, the middle ones usually stick solid to the plastic and need to be thawed slightly before they'll even consider jumping into your baby's dish. Even then they don't jump and you need to apply thumb-numbing pressure to achieve your aim of actually feeding your baby at some point. On one particularly disorganised lunchtime I was so frustrated that I stuck a sharp knife down the side of one of the ice cubes and ended up splitting the plastic so from then on had to remember not to fill the dead centre compartment otherwise the mush would leak out and stain the drawer in my freezer. That was my fault completely, but it wouldn't have happened if the promised 'easy release' aspect actually worked. In the early days you can just hold the base of the tray under warm running water to thaw the underside of the food enough that it'll come away from the plastic, but remember that by doing this you're also thawing the other cubes slightly and this isn't ideal if you're planning to pop the rest of them back in the freezer - not a problem really when your little one is still eating vegetable based purees (although don't tell the Health Visitor I said that) but as soon as you start introducing meat into the mix it's not a good idea to start the cycle of thawing and re-freezing.
The lid fits nice and tightly and nothing I've ever stored in the Foodcube tray has ever suffered from being in the freezer even when not used straightaway. Fifteen meals will last you for a few days if you're feeding exclusively from your batch cooked food, I found the tray held a weeks worth due to the fact that most days I had time (and inclination!) to puree down a little of whatever someone else in the family was eating. If you're making bigger batches than this, which I know some people do, you can decant the frozen cubes into freezer bags and build your stock up - obviously you shouldn't store them in the freezer for too long but it's perfectly safe to make up a months worth of meals and keep them in a bag, I wouldn't recommend buying a big supply of the trays though as that'd be crazily expensive (as in might as well buy baby food) and also you'd end up filling half of a freezer drawer with stacked lime green boxes. And with a family of six I need all the room I can get in the freezer so plonking the frozen cubes into a bag to lives amongst the frozen chips and peas is a much better option!
These aren't suitable for the dishwasher or microwave and I remember reading a review one time that said someones had actually melted when she ignored the 'no dishwasher' advice. This isn't ideal really; I don't have a dishwasher but can imagine how irritated I'd be if I did and found out this designed-for-babies product had to be washed by hand! Annabel Karmel! I thought you were trying to make life easier for the busy mum?! Anyway, it washes up reasonably easily in the sink - because of the sticky nature of the contents you need to make sure you get into all the corners when washing the trays, I find a teat brush is perfect for this as the bristles will get into all the nooks and crannies. Bizarrely, considering most babies begin weaning at just six months, the tray can only be sterilised in a cold water steriliser - this was fine for me as that was the method I used this time around anyway, but I did notice the colour starting to fade slightly after a few months which I assume was down to the sterilising tablets as I'd experienced the same thing with a couple of cheap plastic baby dishes. Those of you with a steam or microwave steamer are buggered I'm afraid.
I haven't been very positive about this product, have I? I used it plenty of times so it's not a completely irritating item, but it has always tested my patience as there are so many niggles that you'd expect a know it all like Annabel Karmel to notice before endorsing it. In fact, I had better luck with a cheap silicone ice cube tray as that just peeled away from the frozen cube of baby food - admittedly the compartments were only half the size but this wasn't an issue as I'd just remove two at a time to feed David. Simples.
When I first starting weening my son I spent hours peeling, boiling, mashing and mixing fruit and vegetables together and then freezing them into little portions so I would have lots of fresh, healthy food to feed my baby with. It made it so much easier to be able to freeze these things because then you can just defrost one and still have a healthy meal even if you don't have the time that day to prepare something from scratch. One of the things that really helped me in my marathon freezing days were these trays from Annabel Karmel. Annabel is a bit of a baby guru and has written a number of amazing baby cookbooks as well as putting her name to various items that will help you to cook this baby food.
Like it says this tray is made of a flexible material so when you come to take the frozen food out its easy to get just a couple of sections out. What I tend to do is take the ones from the ends first as it is easier to get these out to begin with. You can do this by holding the tray in both hands and twisting it in opposite directions and then the little sections will just pop out. I find if they are really frozen its often helpful to run one of them under the hot tap to just loosen it up a bit and then it slips out really easily.
The freezer tray is divided into 15 sections so you can have little portions that in the beginning are just enough for one meal. My son was always a good eater in the early stages and I found he could eat at least three of these in any one sitting so it was helpful to be able to just use a few. If you boil and blend up a whole butternut squash or a vegetable that size it will probably fill all of the sections so its nice to know that you are not going to waste any food by being able to freeze in all these sections.
What I like is that this tray comes with a lid that snaps over the whole tray so when you put it in the freezer the little sections are protected and will not get any dirt in them or will not fall out of the tray itself. Once I have got out the number of little sections I need I can put the tray back in the freezer and continue to use it until they are all gone. The tray is really easy to wash as the material doesn't make food stick to it so it comes up really nice and clean.
The tray cost me £5 online which I think was a good bargain and I did actually get three of them in the beginning so I could put different fruits and vegetables in them and its been a great tool in the whole weaning process.
When Lauren was about 6 months old, her milk just didn't seem to be enough so the health visitor recommended I started to introduce solids. I am not a big fan of cooking and I read about making food in bulk and freezing rather than cooking fresh food every day. The Annabel Karmel food trays sounded ideal for this so I decided to buy some from Amazon. They are also available from baby specialists like Boots, Toys R Us etc and costs between £5 and £10. For this, you get two trays, with 18 sections which hold about 60ml each. They look a little like ice cube trays but are deeper and the plastic is less rigid (more rubbery). You also get a plastic clip on lid with a pen and some stickers so you can write on what is in each section.
The week we decided to start weaning, I added some extra vegetables to the steamer, and once cooked, I pureed them and placed into the trays. The first time I used, upon taking out of the freezer, I found it impossible to remove individual sections of the tray. Despite the tray being flexible, the only way I could get them out was to run warm water underneath, but by doing this, I started to defrost several portions! In the end, I decided to by some small food pots from Tesco's (from memory, a pack of 6 small bowls with lids cost me less than £1), these lasted a lot longer and it was easy just to take one bowl out of the freezer rather than the messing around with a whole tray.
It is worth noting that these are not suitable for dishwashers, I didn't read this part of the instructions when I first used and ended up shrinking and deforming one of the trays.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend these and would not buy again, they are a great idea but the problem with actually getting the food out of the compartment was just too much hassle.
Thanks for reading.
I was very fortunate to receive some of my sister's stuff that she used when weaning her own children who are all well past that stage now. One of the things that she passed onto me were these Annabel Karmel freezer food trays, which cost just over £5 on the likes of amazon. Annabel Karmel is a well recognised name in the world of baby weaning and I am a fan of her weaning book so I presumed that these cube trays would be of great use. I never asked my sister at the time whether they were good or not as she gave a me a pile of stuff which I only took out when I started weaning my daughter.
I now have two of these trays, which allow you to freeze small portions of food for a weaning baby when they are still only eating small amounts. These trays are supposed to make life easier for a parent when they are weaning a baby, as you can freeze small portions of food all in one go to defrost as you need. The trays themselves are flexible meaning that you should be able to get the food out easily and also it is easier to slot it into a freezer that in our case is quite small. A rigid hard tray is almost impossible to get into our freezer without clearing a lot of space.
Each tray can hold up to 15 individual portions for baby, and there is a clip on lid that covers the entire tray. I have a tray in both green like that shown above and also pink.
I have been using little individual baby cube pots to freeze my baby's food however, with her now on three meals a day I am going through a lot more food and need to freeze more in one go. It was recently that I remembered my sister giving me these trays and after making a batch of pureed vegetable soup I needed quite a bit of room to freeze portions for my daughter. As I poured the soup into the individual spaces in the tray I thought that this product was great and saved me some room in my freezer, and all it meant that wen I needed to get some food out for my daughter, I just needed to pop a cube out like I would do with an ice cube.
This is where the problems begin. Last week I froze the soup along with some other vegetables, and when I first went to remove a couple of cubes, it took me quite a while to get even one cube removed. That was with me thumping the back of the tray, using a knife to try and remove a cube and pressing with all my might to very little avail until eventually one of the cubes (not even the one that I was targeting) fell out! Not much use in my opinion. We have a flexible ice cube tray and there are no problems removing the cubes.
The other problem with this product, although it isn't quite as important as the one that I just mentioned, is that the lid is a very poor fit. I struggle to get it on the tray before putting it in the freezer and I then struggle to get it off when taking the tray out.
Despite the idea being good, and there is no doubt that it is a good way to store individual portions of baby purees etc making life a lot easier, but I really wouldn't recommend this product, especially not for the price. I;m glad that I received it for free from my sister, but I probably won't use this much as it is simply too difficult to get the cubes out.
I bought 4 of these trays prior to weaning my daughter along with the Annabel Karmel weaning book.
I would happily purée up various fruits and veg for my daughter and happily fill the cubes up and attach the sticky labels on and then freeze them.......what I didn't realise is that a) The sticky labels would all fall off in the freezer, so I wouldn't know if I was giving my daughter fruity porridge for breakfast or cauliflower cheese! And b) you could lose fingers and lots and lots and lots of time trying to get the cubes out of the trays! I am not kidding, it took ages to remove them and my fingers would be red raw by the time I had finished.
There was also a particularly disgusting episode where unbeknown to me there was a tear in one of the cubes and there was subsequently leakage of mackerel and veg purée (don't ask) all over my freezer! Lovely!
Thankfully by the time my son arrived I had wised up and realised that SHOCK HORROR he could eat what we ate every night and he didn't need his own separate drawer in the freezer for all his bizarre purees! So they trays gathered dust in the back of the cupboard until I used them to make giant gin ice cubes for a summer party.....now I bet Annabel Karmel never designed them for that!!!!!
When I started to wean my son on to solid food I really wasn't that sure what to do as a first time mum and a total baby novice. So I was following to the letter the Annabel Karmel weaning book with its suggested menu for the first couple of weeks. As this involved a lot of mashing pureeing of food I thought it would be useful to make some larger batches and freeze some of the food for future meal times. When I saw this freezer cube tray by Annabel Karmel I thought I would be on to a winner as I hoped the tray would not only be easy to use but that each cube would equate to one portion of her recipes thus making it easier for me to know how much food to give my son and to defrost.
The cube tray itself seems to be made from a very flexible silicone type plastic the trays I have are green and pink. The trays come with a clip lid to seal in all the baby food and to make them easy to stack in the freezer. Each tray has fifteen little cube slots that can hold up 60 mls of puree.
The tray is very easy to fill up I found whether pouring from a jug or decanting the puree into the pots with a dessert spoon they filled up nicely without too many air holes. Putting the lid on however is tricky and on most occasions when I filled the whole tray up some would end being squeezed out as I tried to get the lip of the tray safely into the lid. The flexibility of the tray itself seems to be the problem as this means it is hard to hold the tray firmly with out squeezing one of the pots as you put the lid on securely.
The first time I used the trays I forgot how things with water content can swell up in the freezer so my carefully divided pots in the freezer ended up leaking into the top section of the tray. Now the first time I tried to get some of the pots out once frozen was tricky because of this. I end up running the tray under some hot water to loosen the cube so I could get the food out. I had hoped that this was just down to the fact that the cube had been over full but unfortunately every time with out fail I would need to either run part of the tray under the hot to get a cube of food out. The idea that the flexibility of the tray means you can uncurl the sides of the cube to pop the food out just never seemed to work for me. Now weather this is down to the design of the tray or because a lot of the food I pureed had starch content like potatoes that meant it was stickier I am unsure but either way I found this to be unsatisfactory.
The lids themselves were provided with some labels to affix to the top to help you remember which puree was in each cube. I personally found the labels provided never remained fixed to the lid of the tray in the freezer but regular labels seemed to be able to stick to the top so this wasn't a huge problem.
The hope that I had that the cubes would equal the recipe portion sizes in the Annabel Karmel weaning book also never seemed to work out either and I always ended up filling more cubes than portions sizes indicated in the recipes What I would find was than rather than it being double so I could defrost 2 cubes more often than not it was about 50 % more. I think that if Annabel Karmel is going to endorse such a product she should give greater thought to the design and how it fits with the rest of her brand i.e. books and portions as I found this to be a bit misleading.
Now we didn't end up using these trays for more than a couple of months really this was down to two factors. The fact that I found the trays difficult to use and the fact that my son hated purees and we did Baby led weaning in the end meant that these quickly just gathered dust in the cupboards.
I think this product isn't really one I can recommend to other parents for the following reasons; the food once frozen is hard to get out of the cubes without the aid of hot water. The lid is hard to fix in place due to the flexibility of the tray often resulting in some food being spilled and the cube sizes themselves are a bit misleading in regards to portion seizes. I personally got fed up using these and just switched to small Tupperware boxes and snack bowls for freezing items. They now gather dust in my kitchen cupboards as I can't think of an alternative use for them as they are two large for ice cubes really any suggestions are welcome. If I haven't totally put you off they cost around £6 a tray from stockist such as www.jojomamanbebe.co.uk