Autumn is the perfect time for picking fruit, but with the bountiful harvest comes the risk of waste, having picked too much to eat. Some of your fruit may be too overripe to eat fresh, but still have a huge range of uses in cooking. After all, overripe fruit is fruit at its sweetest and most flavoursome, even if the texture is a little on the mushy side!
Here are a few simple and delicious ideas for using overripe fruit in cooking to avoid having to throw it away.
Banana bread is a favourite amongst many, and freckly or brown bananas are perfect for mashing up and using in this simple baked treat. But why stop there? Strawberries, peaches and plums are all perfect additions to bread. Overripe fruit is easier to mash up and mix into your dough, and is extra sweet, bringing out all of the flavours and leaving a fruity syrup marbled throughout your loaf.
Jam is the ultimate way of making use of sweet, squishy, overripe fruit, and making a large batch can help ensure you needn’t waste a single strawberry (or any other fruit for that matter). Follow a tried and tested recipe and have plenty of clean jars on hand to keep the jam in. Home made jam can keep for months in the fridge, and can be used in hundreds of recipes, so it’s always worth having a jar or two in your kitchen cupboard.
Fruit leather makes a great addition to any lunch box and is a perfect healthy snack which is easy to make at home. If you have apples or pears which are on their way to drying out, add them to a blender and whizz them into a mushy paste. Spread thinly onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and lay on a baking tray. Bake at a low temperature for long enough for the fruit to dry completely and become a solid sheet. This “leather” can then be cut up into shapes which can be used for anything, from kid’s snacks to making cake decorations.
As overripe fruits lose their water content, their flavour becomes concentrated, making them extra sweet and flavoursome- perfect for use in sauces. Use overripe apples to make a home made apple sauce, or cranberries for the perfect accompaniment to your roast turkey. Fruits such as these can also be used in stuffing or marinade to add flavour to meat and meat dishes.
The sweetness and softness of overripe fruit makes it perfect for making smoothies. Chop up bananas, strawberries, plums, peaches or any other fruit you may have and add to the blender. Add apple juice, a tablespoon of natural yoghurt and some honey to taste. A smoothie can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days, or frozen for future use. During hot weather, try pouring the smoothie mix into ice lolly moulds and freezing to make delicious and healthy ice lollies without the waste!
Image sourced: Kelly Garbatotagsoverripe fruitzero waste