When life hands you (mushy) apples
How to make your produce last a little longer.
Last week I noticed that some Braeburn apples I'd bought were getting kind of tired. I sliced one up and tried to eat it but the slightly softened texture made the fruit really unappetizing. Given how high food prices are getting, the idea of throwing out fruit really annoyed me -- and I had another five apples in the bag.
A childhood riddle popped into my head: How do you divide five apples among nine people?
The answer: Make applesauce. So I did: Peeled and sliced the other apples, simmered them with a little water, pulverized them with a potato masher, and added cinnamon and a tiny amount of brown sugar. The result was delicious.
Funny how "soft" apples are gross but soft applesauce is really tasty -- it makes no sense, but there it is. All I know is that I didn't have to waste food. I could also have turned the fruit into an apple crisp, which is really easy to make, but I wanted to carry the applesauce in lieu of the usual apple in my brown-bag lunch.
When tomatoes ripen faster than I can eat them, I chop them finely and add them to a batch of homemade soup; if I'm not making soup that week, I just freeze the pulp for next time. You could also turn them into homemade salsa if you happened to have some peppers on hand.
I actually prefer my bananas a little overripe, but if one is too far gone I'll throw it in the blender with a little milk and a handful of blackberries that I picked last summer. The result thickens up like a milkshake thanks to the frozen fruit, but has a lot less fat and fewer calories because there's no ice cream involved.
Readers: How do you prevent waste? When you do find yourself with almost-past-its-prime produce, how do you salvage it?
Published Feb. 20, 2009
Bananas go into banana bread, which goes into the freezer for the weeks when I really want bread. Pumpkin (from Halloween) and zucchini are turned into bread also...
Carrots and potatoes get cooked with a beef roast - once they are cooked, no one knows that they were a little squishy to begin with!
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