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freshfruit pies

4 Creative Uses for Your Overripe or Excess Fruit

When your fresh fruit starts nearing its final days, it can be tempting to toss it out. But your fruit deserves a second chance too. We see them not as castaways but as canvases for culinary creativity. Here are just a few creative ways you can avoid food waste by using your overripe produce to create refined recipes.

1. Use overripe fruit as a key ingredient in baked treats

When your overripe fruit isn’t fit to bite into anymore, it’s time to bring out your best bakeware and get creative.

Overripe fruit makes for the perfect baking ingredient since they have a higher sugar content compared to their firmer counterparts, which helps sweeten baked goods sans added sugar. Among many other perks such as enhanced flavor profiles and nutritional benefits, these fruits are also much softer and juicier, making them excellent sources of moisture for cakes, muffins, and breads.

While we encourage you to embrace your culinary freedom with these fruits, a few popular baked treats you can easily craft in your kitchen include:

  • Fruit-filled Pancakes or Waffles: Add chopped or pureed overripe fruits to pancake or waffle batter for a breakfast that tastes like dessert (hello, kid-approved meals).
  • Fruit Pies, Tarts, or Cakes: Transform overripe fruits into delectable pies or tarts. Consider apple pie, peach tart, mixed berry pie, or pineapple upside-down cake, leaning on your fruits to elevate the filling and flavor. 
  • Fruit-filled Pastries: Fill flaky pastries like turnovers or Danishes with irresistible and decadent fruit fillings.  
  • Banana Bread or Muffins: Overripe bananas are perfect for making moist and flavorful banana bread or banana muffins. The natural sweetness of the bananas adds richness to these baked treats. 

2. Or, you can even make a delicious artisanal fruit jam or preserve

Ele vate your cheese boards, breakfasts, and more by turning your not-quite-right fruits into a flavor-filled spread. Apples, blueberries, and strawberries, to name a few, can all be repurposed into a delicious preserve or jam.  

 First, chop your fruit into bite-size pieces, bidding farewell to any bruised or rough spots. Toss your fruity mix into a saucepan and squeeze in a bit of citrus juice (think: lemon or orange zest), which helps your jam achieve that perfect consistency. If your tastebuds prefer compotes with a sweeter profile, add honey, maple syrup, or a sprinkle of sugar, adjusting to your liking. 

 Let the mixture simmer gently until the fruits break down into a glossy, syrupy concoction. Test the magic by spooning a bit onto a chilled plate – if it sets into a luscious gel, go ahead and consider yourself a Top Chef qualifier.  

3. Chop and freeze fruit to make a refreshing smoothie later.

If you can’t eat it now, freeze it for later. Bananas, blueberries, strawberries, pineapples, grapes, and oranges—the list could go on—are all superior smoothie ingredients, offering both flavor and function with myriad health benefits.  

 Start by peeling and slicing any fruit that’s in need of some extra TLC, such as bananas, apples, oranges, and the like. Berries are low-maintenance and can go straight to their new temporary home in the freezer.  

Pro tip: After you slice up your fruits, it’s best to freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for a few hours or until fully frozen before transferring them to a freezer-safe bag or container. This prevents the fruits from sticking together and allows you to use only the amount you need for each smoothie.  

Once you’re ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor (we love a good pun), take the frozen fruits out of the freezer and let them sit at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes to soften slightly. Then, in a blender, combine the frozen fruits, Greek yogurt or plant-based yogurt, milk or dairy-free milk, honey or maple syrup (if using), and vanilla extract (if using). Add a handful of ice cubes for extra thickness and chill, if desired. Blend, pour, and enjoy!  

4. Compost expired fruit to feed your indoor and outdoor plants. 

For the eco-conscious foodies or avid plant parents, repurposing fruit that’s past its prime into nutrient-rich compost will help your plants (and the planet) thrive.  

Here’s what you’ll need to get started composting:  

  • Compost bin or pile: Choose a suitable location for your compost bin or create a compost pile in your backyard. 
  • Brown materials: Gather dried leaves, straw, shredded newspaper, or cardboard. These materials provide carbon for the compost. 
  • Composting tool: Have a pitchfork, shovel, or compost aerator on standby to turn and mix the compost pile. 

Once you have your materials, the next step is to add a layer of brown materials (dried leaves, straw, etc.) to provide a base for the compost and help with aeration. Then you’re ready to add your “green materials” (i.e., your expired fruits, vegetable scraps, etc.).  

The Bottom Line

Instead of seeing your expired, excess, or overripe fruit as a burden, see it as an opportunity to flex your culinary chops or embrace sustainability. As much as you enjoy your fruit at its peak freshness, there's still plenty of potential to make the most of your purchases even past their use-by date.