How to Rescue Old Fruit

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Recently, I bought a pint of dreadful strawberries (I skipped the farmer’s market and took a chance on grocery store fruit.) Unfortunately, there was no saving them. However, I have found several ways to save fruit just on the verge of going bad. It not only saves money, but it adds variety to my menu.

Apples

Apples are so easy to use up. If they’re bruised, cut off the bruised parts and then sauté them in a pan with cinnamon, sugar, and butter. It’s a quick and easy side dish. I also like to serve oranges on the side of jerk chicken, that way we can use up fruit with dinner. If you don’t want a fruit side dish, make baked apples or an apple tart for dessert.

Bananas

Banana bread is the best use for mushy bananas, but you can also use them in smoothies.

Berries

Strawberries and cherries also make great tarts, if they haven’t gone bad yet. If you don’t have enough to bake, toss strawberries in the blender and make a delicious smoothie. Other berries can be frozenbefore they go bad. Lay them on a sheet pan in a single layer, and then put in the freezer until hard. Once they’re hard, put them in a freezer bag or plastic container. They won’t defrost well enough to eat alone (although frozen cherries can be yummy), you can make them into delicious sauce or use in a tart, pie, or fruit bread later. I use them in smoothies, which also replaces the ice in the smoothie.

Citrus

Rather than keeping store-bought lemon juice on hand, squeeze fresh lemons. If they’re about to go bad, squeeze them and freeze the juice for use later. You can do the same thing with oranges, limes, and other citrus fruits.

Peaches, Apricots, and other Stone Fruits

When I was growing up, my backyard had a peach tree, an apricot tree, a plum tree, a cherry tree, and grape vines. The peach and apricot trees produced so much fruit that it would fall right off the tree before we could pick it. There was way more than we could eat, so we salvaged what we could by making jams and jellies, canning cut fruit, and dehydrating slices for delicious snacks (although my sister and I usually ate all the dehydrated peaches the second the lid came off the dryer). They also made it into numerous pies and breads. We often froze a loaf to have at Christmas.

Grapes

Cut them up and use them in a summer chicken salad or fruit salad. You can also dehydrate them to make your own raisins.

Exotic Fruits

The average person doesn’t buy mangoes, pineapples, or passion fruit without an intended use for it, but here are a few ideas in case you overbuy or your plans change. Like other fruits, these can all be dehydrated. You can cut them into chunks and freeze them for use in sauces later. If still reasonably fresh and firm, make a fruit salsa to serve over fish or chicken. If they’re getting a bit soft, make a tart or cobbler with them.

Fruit is plentiful now, but it won’t be in just a few months. Preserve what you can so you can enjoy a sweet treat in the dead of winter, or just make sure you use it all up now to save some cash.

If you have other uses for old fruit, please share them.

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