The bright, pretty color and the expected sweetness and delightful flavors of fruit make it easy to overbuy, especially with toddler in tow. She wants strawberries at the store, but then you get home and she only wants the apples that you already had. You picked up blueberries with the intention of making muffins, or pancakes even, but there’s just never enough time. Uneaten, old fruit just keeps piling up. Not to fret, though. Even if the fruit is a little past its prime, looking just a wee bit sadder, it’s still in many cases totally fine to bake or whip into another recipe. Here are my favorite 15 ways to use fruit that’s past its prime.
Before you get started, first check your aging fruit for any major issues. In some cases it is better just to toss it in the trashcan or the compost heap. Once you’ve eliminated any problematic pieces, especially any moldy fruit or fruit with bruising beyond recognition, you can begin transforming a sad piece of fruit into a fabulous baked treat or other tasty snack. Remember, we are discarding anything with mold or an otherwise gross appearance – our intention is to find better uses for less-fresh fruit than the trashcan!
Without further ado, here are 15 things you can do with old fruit.
- Bake up a loaf of banana bread. Or other fruit bread, depending on what you have on hand. Banana bread is a delightful breakfast treat, but also a healthy snack for your toddlers to enjoy at school or anytime.
- Make applesauce or flavored applesauce. If you have a Ninja blender or other food processor, you won’t believe how easy it is to make baked applesauce. Add in your child’s favorite fruit for a special zing to the flavor, like strawberry applesauce or blueberry applesauce.
- Freeze old fruit and make smoothies or add frozen fruit to a milkshake. When trash night comes or even as you first notice, set aside just a few minutes to inspect and rinse the fruit, removing stems and popping pieces on a tray or in an ice cube tray so they freeze separately. Later, transfer them into a zipper seal bag and save them for a smoothie day!
- Muddle it in some lemonade or iced tea. Raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries make delicious complements to your favorite lemonade drink, especially in the summer. You can also try sliced peaches for another summery flavor in your lemonade or iced tea.
- Bake pies! Or cobblers, crisps, fruit tarts, and so forth…. Who doesn’t love a little fruit pastry hot out of the oven topped with some vanilla or chocolate ice cream? (or in our house, Cookies and Cream!) For another fun activity with your toddler, get some mini pie pans and let your kids have at it with all the old fruit in the house, adding crumb topping or going all out with the regular pie dough recipe.
- Fold B grade fruit into pancakes. Some of the best pancakes I ever had used up the weepy, wilting raspberries that Natalie and I had picked last summer, along with chocolate chips, of course! See the recipe for Raspberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes here!
- Whip up a batch of muffins or scones. My daughter is quite obsessed with muffins but she really loved the scones her friend’s mom made for us at a tea party play date! I’ve been told, with some things like this, once you have the recipe down, you can whip them up in minutes with simple handfuls of ingredient.
- Try your luck with a batch of your own jam or preserves. While I don’t have my own personal experience here, I have at least one friend who canned her own strawberry preserves and I really, truly love the idea of doing this. Now if only Natalie would get past her fear of trying jelly and jam, I could add it to our summer to-do list! (Or maybe we will just barrel past the fear and see what happens!)
- Attempt a fun experiment with a juicer. We own a juicer that sees the light of day pretty much only when Mommy and her girlfriends realize it’s late spring or early summer and they haven’t made homemade sangria yet. (This summer will be taking a bye on the sangria. Sigh.) But if you own a juicer, as we do, make a plan to use it at least a few times of year with the kids, making delicious homemade fruit juices. You can use the fresh-squeezed juice to make non-alcoholic cocktails, juice ice cubes, or other frozen treats.
- Make your own popsicles or freeze pops! See above for the juicer, or take whatever drinks you already have in your fridge and make some homemade popsicles. The Zoku Pop Maker is a great way to inspire your kids to be hands-on with food and treats this summer. Use simple juice and fruit recipes or try some of the more complex recipes in their book—or of course, have a blast making up your own!
- Freeze, blend, and freeze again for homemade sorbet. There’s nothing like a yummy frozen treat on a hot day, and it doesn’t get much healthier than 100% real fruit. If you’re feeling adventurous, try mixing flavors to get a tasty combination you might not otherwise find at stores or restaurants.
- Mix into your own homemade ice cream. My Kitchenaid Mixer has an ice cream attachment that we’ve used once to make homemade ice cream. Of course we were too impatient and didn’t want to wait long enough, so we ate it when it was still somewhat melty, like a milkshake. You can also make homemade ice cream the Hack My Life way.
- Create compote or another sugary fruit sauce, perfect for serving over ice cream or yogurt. Even if you don’t follow a recipe, you can usually throw together some fresh fruit, a touch of sugar and possibly some cinnamon, mix it up in a food processor or blender and bake it a little bit to an ooey-gooey goodness. Yum! I want some cherry topping for my ice cream – now we gotta go pick the cherries!
- Make your own dried fruit snacks like apple chips and banana chips. You can also attempt fruit leather, like homemade fruit rollups. I’ve read that you can bake them in the oven at low temperatures or try your luck with a food dehydrator, which my dad uses.
- Feed it to the deer out back. If you live in a rural area like we do, your toddler might enjoy taking a walk to the back and dropping an old apple over the fence. Your little one will be so excited to see the apple is gone by morning, and even more excited if you happen to catch your neighborhood deer snacking on it!
What ideas do you have for using up less fresh fruit? Please share them in our comments below!