You know that feeling of complete euphoria when you come home from the grocery store with (reusable) bags full of beautiful fresh produce? Everything is so colourful and crisp, you can just feel your body getting healthier by just looking at it. You eat as much of it as you can, but inevitably, those bananas start to turn brown, the apples get a little soft and suddenly that fruit isn’t as appealing as it was a week ago. At some point, a tomato is just too wrinkly to put in a salad. So what do you do? Throw it out?
Absolutely not. Your fruit might not be fresh enough to take a bite out of, but that doesn’t mean it’s compost. There are a number of recipes that you can still throw that precious produce into. In some cases, recipes actually work better with fruit that’s a little past its prime.
Note: we’re talking about fruit that’s a little softer than you want it to be, not fruit that’s gone bad. If you let it get that far, you have permission to throw it out. Otherwise, don’t you dare.
If the problem with your fruit is that it’s too soft, what better way to fix that than to make it as soft as possible (by blending it) and then as hard as possible (by freezing it)? Fruits that lend themselves well to being made into Popsicle are berries, mangoes, kiwi and pineapple. These are perfect in the summer, but who says you can’t make some delicious (and Instagrammable) popsicles in the winter too? People who don’t care about your happiness, that’s who. A healthy dessert that saves us from throwing good money down the drain? Don’t mind if we do.
Baking is probably the best way to get rid of large amounts of fruit that’s on it’s way out. Muffins are easy and relatively quick (they’re literally a “quick bread”) so they’re the perfect go-to fruit recipe. Bananas, apples and berries are pretty common (and delicious) in muffins but you could always experiment with other fruits too. Ever had a pineapple muffin? Neither have we, but we’re willing to try it.
Same idea, but biscuits lend themselves better to unique and savoury flavour combinations if you’re so inclined. Plus, if you’re making drop biscuits, they might be even easier than muffins. Try out apple Gouda biscuits, cranberry lemon biscuits or tomato rosemary biscuits. These are also a great way to get rid of spinach that might be a little past its prime (but not slimy). Get creative!
Crisps or cobblers
Do you have large quantities of fruit that are going to go bad in the next few days? Slice it all up, toss it in some sugar and bake it up with a nice crust or crumble on top. Yum! Apples, berries, peaches, you name it, it can go in a crisp or cobbler (well, maybe not citrus fruits). If you’re up for a little more work, pie works too.
Along the same vein, you can cook your ripe fruit into sauces of either a sweet or savoury nature. Tomatoes too soft for salad? That’s fine, cook them up into a fresh tomato sauce. Berries, apples and any other fruit can be cooked into a sauce perfect for pancakes, waffles, French toast or ice cream. What a delicious excuse to indulge in some brunch.
A banana that’s too brown or soft for eating on its own is perfect for throwing in a bowl of oatmeal. Riper fruit is naturally sweeter, so it means you won’t have to sweeten the oatmeal as much to get the flavour you want (that means it’s healthier). If you fruit isn’t fresh enough to eat plain, you might consider making baked oatmeal to make sure the fruit gets cooked instead of just warmed.
If you just don’t have time for baking or cooking with your fruit, most can be thrown in the freezer to eat or bake later if you catch them early enough. Anything citrus or leafy doesn’t do well frozen but pretty much everything else you can think of can be stocked away in the icebox for later. You might even enjoy eating some frozen right out of the freezer or using them as ice cubes to chill water, wine or juice. It’s both frugal and glamorous.