Product Type: Annabel Karmel kids equipment
Newest Review: ... 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 poin... more
Go away, Annabel Karmel. Just. Go. Away.
Annabel Karmel Flexible Freezer Tray
Member Name: chrisandmark
Annabel Karmel Flexible Freezer Tray
Advantages: Easy to portion out baby food, or even sauces and stocks if your little one is no longer on mush
Disadvantages: Very hard to get the cubes out when frozen, not dishwasher or 'heat' steriliser safe
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.
Summary: A bit rubbish really, not to mention over-priced!