One of the most common reasons that people have for not buying much in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables is that they can’t eat the fresh produce fast enough before it starts to go bad. I like to buy large quantities of a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables at a time, and often that means that something will inevitably get hidden beneath another food product so that I don’t re-discover it until it’s almost too late. But fear not! There are plenty of ways to remedy this problem:
1. Freeze it: I always buy bananas as black as I can find them and then freeze them to toss into smoothies or to turn into loaves. It’s a nice way to cut back on costs (super ripe bananas are usually very cheap) as well as rescue the bananas that most people don’t want. Frozen fruit also tastes great mixed into oatmeal, and you use it to make pies and crumbles too.
2. Hide it: slip it into your smoothie, baked good (I’m not a zucchini lover but zucchini bread can be delicious!), soup, casserole, lasagna, frittata, spaghetti sauce… you name it. If you just don’t want that veggie “taste” but don’t know what to do with them, add it to whatever else you’re cooking so that it doesn’t have to be the main event. It’s nice to give fruits and veggies the spotlight, but if you’re just not in the mood, you might as well try to hide it.
3. Dehydrate it. This is something that I have been doing constantly for the past three days. I have a dehydrator fruit preserving workshop planned for this evening with my job with Fruit Share, and on Friday afternoon the facilitator informed me that something has come up and she will no longer be able to do the workshop. Eek! Since it was such short notice, I figured the best way to handle it (and not have to worry about the deposit on the community centre or disappointing all the people who signed up for the workshop) was to not cancel the workshop and instead host it myself. So I spent all weekend picking apples, experimenting with recipes and dehydrating piles of fruits and veggies, as well as putting together a two-hour presentation. Goodness. The great part? Now I have piles of recipes to use for all the leftover produce in my house! I’ll share the recipes with you all later this week 🙂
A lot of these ideas can also be applied to fruits and vegetables that you do not like the taste of. If you decide to experiment with a fruit or vegetable and you don’t enjoy it the way it is, try tossing it in a smoothie, casserole, stir fry, or add it to a bread or cracker recipe. Dehydrating food also very much alters the taste, so that’s a great way to experiment too. If you’re still stuck, don’t throw it out! Just toss it in the freezer until some future point when you find a use for it. You’re bound to figure out something and, who knows, you might like it enough to continue buying that fruit or vegetable!
What about pre-frozen, pre-canned, and dried fruit and vegetables?
If you can’t eat your fresh produce fast enough, by all means buy the frozen or canned versions! Frozen produce preserves the nutrients exceptionally well in food and you can keep them in your freezer for months on end. Just make sure that you always read the ingredients list. I know I’ve crammed this line down your throat a million times, but it’s really important. Sometimes these frozen bags of produce have added salts or sugars to them, so make sure that absolutely the only ingredients in the bag are the fruits and vegetables themselves. They don’t need anything else added to them. You can always add extra stuff to them yourself when you get back home.
Canned fruits and vegetables are a little trickier. They almost always have added preservatives to them. Just make sure that they are soaking in their own juices as opposed to sugar water or oil. If you are stuck with canned vegetables that have added salt, one way to get rid of most of the salt is to rinse them really well in a strainer when you open the can. Run a lot of water over them and it should remove most of the sodium content.
Dried produce almost always has added preservatives, so you can either try drying them yourself in a dehydrator or in the oven, or, once again, read the ingredient list to ensure that there are no added sugars, salts, or oils.
What’s your favourite tip for saving fruits and vegetables from the trash can?