Fluffy peaches, hard nectarines, mushy strawberries, powdery apples, overripe bananas or simply an overflowing fruit bowl. There’s no excuse for letting fruit go to waste. Puree, freeze, roast, poach, bake; there’s surely something good that can come of it.
Freeze for later
If you’ve no time for anything else, freeze it for later. Spread soft fruits out on a tray to freeze before transferring to a labelled box or freezer bag.
Frozen grapes are refreshing in the summer, berries make tasty ice cubes, soft summer fruits can be blended with yoghurt, whilst frozen, to make fro yos, peeled and frozen banana slices can be blitzed to make a one ingredient ice cream you can get away with eating at breakfast!
Puree or compote
Gently cook the fruit in a pan (with sugar/honey/date syrup if the fruits aren’t sweet) to make a compote, or simply blitz soft fruits like raspberries and strawberries to make a puree (sieve if you have the energy).
Stir through yoghurt, pour over ice cream, top your porridge, pancakes and waffles or combine with cream and meringue.
Chop, mix, macerate (leave to sit with sugar, citrus juice or even alcohol so the fruits break down and take on flavour) and no one would ever know the fruit was past its best.
Muffins, cakes and cheesecakes
Baking is an obvious winner. Banana, blueberry, cherry, apple, pear, rhubarb, peach, apricot. Anything goes.
Here’s my recipe for blueberry and chocolate cheesecake.
And, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made these sugar-free banana muffins for the children.
Roast, poach, bake, stew
Peaches, nectarines or apricots void of flavour, mealy in texture or refusing to ripen can be transformed by roasting. Poach pears, bake rhubarb, stew apples. Try them with spices such as vanilla, ginger, cinnamon or even star anise.
Finish with clotted cream, creme fraiche, custard or turn into puddings – crumbles, pies, cobblers, summer pudding.
Why not try this really simple rhubarb pudding?
Once cooked, many fruits can be successfully frozen too for use when fresh fruit is lacking, bringing a bit of summer to the colder months.
You don’t have to stick with the sweet things – rhubarb and gooseberries pair well with mackerel, pork and apple is a classic combination, lemon and chicken are good friends and pineapple makes a great salsa to accompany salmon.
Smoothies, juices and cordials
Let your imagination run wild with the flavour combinations. Add oats to make your smoothies more filling. Healthy or unhealthy, you decide.
Use the juice from fruits such as oranges to make ice lollies, adding some chunks of fruit or berries too.
Give my rhubarb and ginger cordial a try.
Steep fruits in your chosen tipple for a week or so. Strain and sip responsibly!
Jams and chutneys
Strawberry, raspberry, apple and blackberry, rhubarb and vanilla or plum jam. Lemon, lime or orange curd. Orange, lime or grapefruit marmalade. Banana or rhubarb ketchup. Apple or plum chutney. The possibilities are practically endless. Easy to make and keep for months.
Spend a fortune on rolls of these for your toddler? Why not make your own? Claire Thomson, aka the 5 O’ Clock Apron, has a great recipe which was a hit with my 5 year old and friends after we went over the top at the pick your own!