We’ve all been there – we put the fresh fruit out in the fruit bowl, we have one of those weeks, and the next time we look at it, it’s less than appetising. It’s easy to throw it in the bin and start again, but we’re throwing away 1.4 million edible bananas EVERY DAY, and it’s costing us £80 million a year (not to mention the environmental problems it causes). Other fruits fare no better, so it’s time we get fruity to avoid food waste.
In some ways, fruit is one of the easiest things to store or use up, even if it’s past its best. A quick peel (perhaps) and it can be tossed into a smoothie, or sliced up into a fruit salad. After a few hours soaking in syrup (and I tend to cheat if I’m in a hurry, and add a tin of fruit in syrup, rather than making my own…), it’s transformed into a dessert few people can resist.
Or it can be quickly cooked down with a bit of sugar to make a fridge jam, or compote, and will delight drizzled onto toast or over ice cream. Or it can just be eaten with a spoon…. If you’ve got an ice cream maker then a nice fruit compote and a carton or two of yogurt makes a delicious fro-yo that will keep for weeks in the freezer. In the unlikely event you end up with leftover compote, freeze it in the ice cube tray and you’ve got ready-made fruit cubes for your next smoothie.
Berries can be frozen on a tray for a couple of hours, and then bagged up for later use. Or make them straight into muffins and watch them disappear. And nothing gets people to wolf down fruit quite as quickly as crumble. My dad’s wartime crumble recipe makes use of breadcrumbs, too, if you’ve got a crust or two to polish off. It makes a nice change from the normal floury version.
Once we’ve mastered the basics, there are other options. Fruit leather turns fruit into non-perishable, portable strips. Ideal for quick snacks and lunch boxes, I imagine it’s one of those things that takes longer to make than it lasts once you’re done.
Banana bread is a classic for using up overripe bananas. I like to slice mine, fry them off in a little butter and then drizzle them with syrup instead (and add a splash of a fruity liqueur for a grown up version….).
And, of course, there’s always the option of using your fruit to flavour some booze, steeping it for 6 weeks or so, and then inventing your own food waste cocktail. Sloes and damsons are classics, but there’s no reason why other fruits won’t be just as nice!
For Food Waste Masters, there are advanced options, making use of bits of fruit we’d normally not consider. Anna Pitt has a prize-winning recipe for banana skin curry that has to be made to be believed.
So, whether you’re a food waste apprentice, journeyman or master, there’s no reason to fail your fruit!