Don’t fill your grocery basket with tempting, colourful, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, only to let them die in the refrigerator or on the kitchen counter. There are plenty of ways to use up fresh produce that is slightly past its prime. Try some of these ideas for keeping your over-ripened fruits and veggies out of the trash.
Make a slaw or salad Grate cabbage, carrots, apples, or pears to make a Cabbage Apple Slaw. Throw in some toasted nuts for a delicious crunch. Add raisins and a tangy sauce to grated carrots and chunked pineapple to make a Super Carrot Raisin Salad. Mix grated broccoli, raisins, and bacon for a savoury Crunchy Broccoli Slaw. Use up the fresh fruit in your kitchen to make a fruit salad or compote. Add leftover chopped veggies to fresh greens and a light dressing for a healthy green salad.
Soup, Stew, or Chili During cold winter months, make a warm dinner with extra veggies. Use crushed tomatoes or leftover fresh tomato sauce to make Creamy Heirloom Tomato Soup or as the base of Hearty Vegetarian Minestrone. Add finely chopped carrots, celery, and onion to poached chicken and broth for a delicate chicken soup. Combine chopped peppers with a variety of thinly sliced veggies and beans to create a warm bowl of vegetarian chili. Make a vegetable stock with chopped onion, root vegetables, celery, peppers, and minced garlic.
Drink Them Up Use a juicer to extract the juice from your favourite fruits and veggies. On their own or in a combination, oranges, grapes, apples, tomatoes, carrots, and mangoes all make mouth-watering and refreshing juices. You could also make a nutritious smoothie in your blender with any fruit plus fresh spinach or kale. Try to use one creamy fruit (such as bananas or mango), one strongly flavoured fruit (like pineapple or strawberries), and a few good handfuls of greens.
Stir fry Add chopped carrots, onions, garlic, celery, peppers, beans, and snap peas to your favourite Asian stir fry dishes, such as Spicy Vegetable Stir Fry or Chinese Vegetable Stir Fry. Fruits, like pineapple and oranges, are also delicious in stir fry recipes.
Pasta Sauce?Use leftover tomatoes, carrots, onion, mushrooms, zucchini, and celery as the base of a chunky tomato sauce, like Garden Spaghetti Sauce. Pour your sauce over pasta, layer it with plenty of vegetables in Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, or spread it on top of your favourite pizza.
Fruit puree Cut washed apples or pears into small chunks and put them in a pot with just enough water to cover. Place the pot over medium-high heat. When the fruit comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and add cinnamon or vanilla. Boil for 20 minutes or until the fruit is soft. Remove from heat and drain off the liquid. Use a stick blender or potato masher to crush the fruit and make a puree. If you have blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or peaches, you could add them to cook with the apples or pears and make a mixed fruit puree. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cool.
Dessert Sauce Combine crushed strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, or plums with sugar and a bit of water to make a delicious fruit sauce. Bring your mixture to a boil, then let it simmer until you have a thick syrup. Pour your homemade fruity dessert sauce over ice cream, plain yoghurt, or pound cake.
Grilled Stone Fruit Cut extra stone fruits in half and lightly cook them on a grill pan or backyard grill, like in Grilled Peaches with Cream Cheese and Honey. Serve them with ice cream or over cake.
Pie Make a mixed fruit pie with extra strawberries and rhubarb; apples, pears, and cranberries; or mixed berries and peaches.
Roast root veggies Extra carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes can be cut into bite sized pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper, tossed with olive oil, and roasted at 425 degrees until tender, about 50 minutes. Serve them with roast beef or roasted chicken. You could also turn them into a root vegetable mash or hash.
Mashed Cauliflower Boil leftover, bite-sized cauliflower in salted water for about 10-15 minutes or until tender. Mash it with a potato masher or puree it in the blender. Season with salt and pepper and add a bit of cream and cheese for a delicious bowl of mashed cauliflower.
Bake bread Make Best Banana Bread with mashed brown bananas. Use grated zucchini to create Chocolate Zucchini Bread. Bake carrot-raisin bread with grated carrots. Add leftover fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, or peaches to a muffin mix and bake in a greased loaf pan for quick bread.
Make Jam or Butter Mix crushed, ripened berries with sugar and pectin to make a quick jam. Leftover tomatoes are delicious in a sweet and savoury Homemade Chunky Tomato Jam. Use apples, pears, or peaches to make fruit butter.
Quick Pickles Save the brine from your favourite store-bought pickles and add slices of cucumber to make quick pickles. After one month of setting in the refrigerated brine, your pickles are ready to eat.
By thinking out of the box and getting creative, you can make the most of your fresh produce and treat your family to delicious dishes!