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Jack’s Harvest is the Cream of the Crop

Since Calvin first began solids in April, I’ve been making his food from scratch using a commercial grade blender and ice cube trays. I thought what I prepared for him was pretty awesome, until we tried some of the fantastic menu options from Jack’s Harvest. Then, I realized my homemade baby fare was a little too lumpy and lacked some extra enzymatic spice for the digestive regime.

Heather and Connie’s creations for Jack’s Harvest are made with love from scratch in small batches using USDA certified organic fruits, vegetables, spices, and filtered water. Then, the servings are flash-frozen in adorable heart-shaped cubes in varying sizes dependent on baby’s age and texture-digesting capability. Jack’s Harvest ships orders every Tuesday from the Atlanta-area based kitchen to anywhere in the United States.

Jack’s Flavors are divided into two categories: so smooth which comes in 12-1 ounce servings (for babies beginning to discover their tastes) and a little lumpy which comes in 4-3 ounce servings (for babies ready to explore textures). Connie encouraged me to sample some menu items that sounded good to me. She mentioned that the lip-smacking sweet potatoes with a dash of cinnamon and vanilla and the blueberrytastic banana are popular-selling items.

However, at the time, I was primarily preparing avocado, bananas, and sweet potatoes for Calvin in my own kitchen. Also, I know that any baby is going to be have an affinity toward sweet-tasting fruit, so, I opted to try some of the vegetable creations and one fruity option that I wasn’t already making at home: 1) more peas please with a hint of mint, 2) succulent succotash (now discontinued) and 3) tango with mango with a squeeze of lime. Those flavors were all part of the so smooth category. For contrast and to make this review more complete, Connie suggested that I also try a sample one of Jack’s a little lumpy flavors: I chose the Pearsnips (which is now on sale and will soon be discontinued).

My order was shipped in an insulated aluminum/plastic bag with dry ice and wads of newspaper for extra insulation. Every single packaged item arrived frozen and in tact in perfect heart-shaped form. Each menu item was sealed in individual and labeled plastic bags which listed the ingredients and expiration date (approximately 3 months from the time you receive them). The items were placed directly into our chest freezer for storage, and I was able to retrieve a serving when needed.

The directions for preparation on the bag only included microwave thawing. Since I’m not an advocate of microwave use for cooking (not only does it kill bacteria, but it kills any viable vitamins in food), I chose instead to warm up the cubes in double boiler (glass teacup in a saucepan filled with water). Sometimes, I would thaw out a cube overnight in the refrigerator. When on the road, I could pop a cube in a glass or plastic jar and let it thaw for a couple of hours at room temperature, and it was ready for Calvin to savor. The instructions for thawing at room temperature and in a double boiler are on the website, but they weren’t printed on the food package. However, I hope this will be added in the future.

More Peas Please, with a Hint of Mint

Sweet and tasty peas are mashed up to a smooth paste. The texture reminded me of wet sand or grainy toothpaste. I added a little water each time to make this particular item easier for Calvin to swallow. Even so, he wasn’t crazy about the taste. So, I combined it with mashed up banana and he was happy as a clam to eat his peas. The peas also mix well with avocado or sweet potatoes.

Succulent Succotash

This mildly sweet concoction included sweet corn and lima beans–delicious. Again, the texture was not liquidy enough for Calvin to swallow. I mixed in a little water, and then he gulped it down before I could blink.

Tango with Mango, with a squeeze of lime

It’s like savoring a mango smoothie for babies! I told Calvin if he didn’t finish his food, I’d gladly help him. He ate every bite I served him, but I’d sneak a little taste every time. For more bulk, calories, and a true baby smoothie, add mashed banana and breastmilk.

Pearsnips

Parsnips are like white carrots, with a slightly sweet taste. These matched well with blended pears. The consistency was only slightly coarser than applesauce. I added a little water when serving it to Calvin. It’s a fruit and a sweet root vegetable, so, of course he loved it.

Overall, the so smooth menu items were blended, smoothly. If the texture is too thick, you can easily thin it down with water or breastmilk. You can also easily mix in other menu options or your own foods for more vitamins and taste options. A Little Lumpy is only slightly chunkier/coarser than the so smooth options. It’s a great way to advance baby to the next level of eating textures.

Good for Baby

Check out Jack’s Harvest website. It includes menu options to help you plan a week’s worth of baby meals. The spice rack includes the names of spices used in the foods and a wealth of information on how they are beneficial to baby.

The best thing about Jack’s Harvest is what you won’t find in the food. The website includes a list of yucky stuff that they DON’T add such as preservatives, colors, sugar, starches, and fillers. If you’re concerned about baby’s potential allergies, rest assured that Jack’s Harvest menu options do not include the most common allergy-inducing foods. Jack’s Flavors are free of gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, and soy.

Great for Parents on the Go

While we spent a week in Virginia, I brought a couple bags of Jack’s Harvest in an insulated cooler. I was able to thaw out a serving in a jar at room temperature or in the cooler in order to feed Calvin while we were on the road. We kept the bags in a freezer throughout the week, and placed a cup in a larger bowl of hot water to thaw. I’ve used this same technique when we’re at restaurants with Calvin. It’s so easy to bring along servings and to prepare them for mealtimes.

Some of Jack’s Flavors have recently been retired, but there are two fabulous new for the summer: Papplesauce with a dash of cinnamon and butternut squash-ed apples with a smidge of sage. For those who want to sample several flavors and textures, pick up Jack’s Packs which have a variety of Jack’s Flavors in up to 6 bags preselected for you based on texture.

Comparative Cost Analysis

As much as I’m a fan of healthy and organic food for Calvin, this review wouldn’t be complete without a frugal mom’s practical cost analysis. I compared the cost of Jack’s Harvest $6 per bag or $0.50 per ounce to what it costs me to prepare organic baby food at home. Organic fruits, vegetables, and spices vary based on season and selection, but for the purpose of this comparison, I evaluated avocados and sweet potatoes. I could make my own from scratch for as little as $0.15 per ounce (depending on the sized of the sweet potatoes) to as much as $0.33 per ounce for avocados.

My homemade costs don’t include the cost of organic spices (I don’t have those), gasoline to travel to the nearest store with organic produce (40 minute drive time round-trip), and the time it takes to peel, mash, bake, blend, pour, freeze, and seal. Also, the price for Jack’s Harvest doesn’t include the cost of shipping. You can type in your zip code to determine the cost to ship frozen items, dry ice, and an insulated bag to you. It costs $17 in shipping to send items to northeastern Pennsylvania. So, it makes economic sense to purchase items in bulk when buying from Jack’s Harvest.

Altogether, Jack’s Harvest is a little more expensive than preparing homemade baby food in your own kitchen, but it’s just as fresh and healthy, and it’s prepared with love by moms for your precious one. Jack’s Harvest is a great option for parents who are too busy to make baby food from scratch, yet they want the quality to be the same. It’s a fantastic option for parents on the go, and for those who are conscientious about other baby foods that have ingredients that aren’t beneficial to baby. I thought Jack’s Harvest items were actually better prepared than anything I had made from scratch thus far. The consistency was smoother and the clever addition of the right spices to augment certain menu options made baby food taste delectably gourmet.

GLAD: Fresh, organic, and tasty food for baby in fantastic combinations with beneficial spices to aid in digestion and increase baby’s taste palate. It’s shipped fast to your front door.

SAD: I wish it was available at my local market.

3 Ways to try Jack’s Harvest or win a FREE bag of Jack’s Harvest goodness

  1. There are three local events in the Atlanta, Georgia coming up soon. This Saturday, May 31st – Jack’s Harvest is having a Launch Party at Nuts ‘n Berries in Atlanta. Get your taste on!
  2. Refer a friend. Check out Jack’s Harvest new referral program and get a free bag (your flavor choice) with your subsequent order.
  3. Traveling with Baby’s readers have access to an exclusive coupon for a free bag of yummy bunny carrots.

Coupon Code “DRDOLLY” entitles you to a FREE bag of Yummy Bunny Carrots with your first order (offer good until July 1, 2008)

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