Bachelor of Science (with Honours)
Advanced Diplomas in each of Naturopathy, Nutrition, and Herbal Medicine.
Lisa is the author of The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly series and the Producer and Presenter of the web-series The Alternative Chef Kitchen.
Making Smooth Purees
Most people think of soup or baby food when they think of making purees. They think of apple, or pumpkin. When it comes to free-from cooking, learning how to create a good puree can do so much to increase the variety in your diet.
For example with pureeing you can create:
- mousse alternatives
- butter alternatives
- cheese alternatives (both spreadable and sliceable)
- ice cream alternatives
- cheesecake alternatives
- and numerous others!
You’ll find that once you know a few of the key tricks (discussed below) that there are quite a few foods that can be pureed (that you might not have realised) eg:
- fresh fruit (e.g. not just stewed fruits)
- fresh veggies (e.g. not just steamed veggies)
So what are the elements for creating a “good” puree?
- Some liquid to “get it going”
- The item you’re going to puree (obviously) and
- A blender or a stick blender.
Lets discuss each of these separately.
A blender or a stick blender
Whether due to finances, or space, not everyone has a kitchen furnished with the latest/ coolest kitchen gadgets. And it can be really frustrating to see amazing recipes that you have no hope of creating because you don’t have that piece of fancy equipment. When I first started my “serious” free-from cooking journey, we had a stick blender and that was it! So I was somewhat disappointed to come home one day to discover it covered in soot… The next day, my hubby and I went shopping and ended up getting a benchtop blender and food processor because, the fancy high-speed blenders were out of our budget. Out of necessity (and determination;-) I ended up getting pretty savvy with that little food processor.
So, the take home message here is: understand the limits of the equipment you have.
If you have a high powered blender, then creating purees is going to be pretty easy for you. If you have a “regular” benchtop blender, or food processor, then you’ll find by adapting recipes, you can achieve an almost similar result most of the time.
If you only have a stick blender, all is not lost. You’ll be surprised to learn that there are still a lot of recipes you can make just with a stick blender. Again, by learning how to modify the recipe method, and the ingredients, you’ll be surprised by what you can achieve.
General tips to achieve smoother purees
- When blending, always scrape the sides of the container down with a spatula, in between pulses
- If you have a “regular” benchtop blender, or stick blender, don’t have too much liquid-to-solids when you’re first getting the puree started. The reason for this is to make sure that the blade has a chance to be in contact with what needs to be blended.
- If you only have a stick blender, chop tricky to puree foods as small as you can before pureeing them (e.g. medjool dates).
- Always soak hard foods before pureeing (e.g. nuts, or seeds).
- If you only have a stick blender, always steam vegetables and crunchy fruits (e.g. apples and pears) before pureeing (bananas and raspberries are fine).
- If you only have a stick blender, you can further modify the recipe by buying pre-ground nuts and seeds. E.g. almond meal, or flaxseed meal.
What kind of liquids can you use to make purees?
Really, there are no limits. If it’s a liquid, you can use it to make a puree. Each of the following are good options:
- Stock (homemade or commercial stock cubes dissolved in water)
- Milk alternatives (e.g. rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk etc.)
- Cream, e.g. coconut cream, coconut yoghurt, (or dairy versions if they suit your diet)
- Melted coconut oil (great for creamy recipes and also for savoury recipes)
- Liquid sweeteners (e.g. rice malt syrup, coconut syrup or nectar and honey if suitable for your diet)
But here are some general guidelines I use when developing recipes:
- If it is a savoury recipe, then I use water or stock, or refined cooking coconut oil.
- If it is a sweet recipe, or something I want to be creamy, I’ll use a milk alternative, coconut cream, coconut yoghurt or melted coconut oil (refined or unrefined will depend on the recipe I am making).
Which foods can be pureed?
Really, almost any food can be pureed, but on Alternative Chef Kitchen when creating dairy and egg alternatives we tend to use the following:
If you only have a stick blender in your kitchen, and you can tolerate legumes in your diet, then the easiest food to puree with a stick blender will be legumes.
For some examples about how we use purees with different foods check out:
- The Tasty cheese episode (Quick bite)
- The Cheesecake episode (There are 4 interesting ways to make a cheesecake in this episode)
- The Guacamole (without Avocado) episode (For an interesting way to puree seeds)
- The Sour Cream Alternative episode (For 4 interesting purees)
Here are a few more of my favourite recipes with unexpected purees:
Mini Corn and Sundried Tomato Tarts (dairy and gluten-free – we have an egg-free version too) and meatless sausage rolls (also gluten, dairy, soy and egg free). These recipes are in our Kids Party Food book.
The creamy layer in this lasagne is not cream cheese! (Recipe from our Italian Recipes book).
Lastly, while this chocolate brownie contains chocolate, there are also lentils hidden in it! (this recipe is from our Dessert Recipes book.
So now it’s over to you. What interesting puree experiments are you going to try?
Until next time …… Lisa.
For Lisa’s previous blogs click HERE
For all the books from The Alternative Chef Kitchen click HERE