I have a particular habit when I’m food shopping: Whenever I see discounted bags of bananas at the grocery store or piles of inexpensive ready-to-eat apples at the farmer’s market, I stock up.
Now, you may be wondering why, since these items will be inedible in days. There are actually many things you can do with overripe fruit that has reached its peak sweetness. This produce is just begging to be turned into something delicious.
Getting creative in the kitchen reduces the amount of waste in our landfills and keeps the grocery budget in line. In 2014, the nation tossed 38 million tons of food waste away, which turns into methane gas in landfills and contributes to climate change issues, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). So, let’s make a change and start using up that fruit!
Turn It into Sauce
Do you have some pears, blueberries, apples, strawberries, or blackberries that are overripe? Wash, chop, and place them in a saucepan with a splash of water on low-medium heat. As the fruit breaks down and the moisture bubbles out, the fruit will turn into a thick sauce that’s wonderful on pancakes, a scoop of ice cream, or even spread on toast as a natural-refined, sugar-free jam. Similarly, making applesauce is a great activity you can do with your kids to teach them tips to reduce food waste.
Whip Up Breakfast Muffins
If you have the free time, have a brunch coming up, or your kids want a new snack, use this fruit to make a batch of muffins. Try mixing several types of berries together with some lemon zest, apples with cinnamon, or bananas with walnuts. Then pour the batter into a mini muffin tin to create kid-size breakfast treats that they can eat on-the-go or share with their friends.
Embrace Juicing or Make a Smoothie
The most common way I use overripe fruit is by tossing it into a breakfast smoothie. Blueberries or raspberries that are losing their plump shape taste delicious when blended with some soy milk and vanilla-flavored protein powder. Plus, I know I’m getting a few servings of fruit to start my day, which makes me feel good.
Dense, fibrous fruits and vegetables are filled with healthy vitamins and minerals—and juice. If the texture of a smoothie isn’t your favorite, you can try juicing (though the AARP notes that you may lose some nutrients). At the end of the week, I tend to gather up anything that hasn’t been eaten and run it through my juicer. This week, it was a blend of carrots, half a red bell pepper, a cucumber, and an overripe orange. The fresh juice was delicious and gave me a burst of natural energy.
Freeze for Baking Later
If you notice some apples starting to lose their firmness or a few too many spots on that bunch of bananas, don’t toss them! Wash, chop, and lay the fresh produce out on a cookie sheet. Then, place it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once the fruit is hard, use a spatula to lift it from the sheet, and transfer it to a freezer-safe bag or glass container. Later, when you feel like making coffee cake, brownies, or homemade bread, you can easily enhance the batter with sweet fruit.
There’s no reason any overripe fruits should land in your compost pile or trash can. Do you have some tips to reduce food waste too? Tweet @TomsofMaine today!
Image sources: Angela Tague | Wikimedia Commons
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.