Best Uses for Overly Ripened Fruit

This new year, we’re making an effort to waste less food and use what’s in the fridge. It’s especially easy to let fruit get overly ripe and go bad, especially if it’s hidden in a produce drawer (life hack: keep produce outside the crisper for easy access). Here are our favorite ways to use fruit that’s on its last legs.

Breads & muffins: Using up seriously brown bananas is a no-brainer — just two to three pieces of fruit will yield a hefty loaf of banana bread. Whether you want to add chocolate chips, nuts or just keep it simple, we love the variety of customization available with this breakfast bread that doubles as dessert. Overripe berries and tree fruits like peaches also make great additions to quick breads and muffins, according to The Kitchn — plus, making your own is cheaper and healthier than going to a corner bakery! Avoid using overripe fruit in cobblers and pies though, as it won’t hold up under heat and will lose lots of texture, says Cooking Light. If you're in the mood for something yummy check out our Skinny Chocolate Chip Banana Bread recipe.

Tip: Not quite ready to use those overripe bananas? Throw them in the freezer to defrost, peel and use at a later date.

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Jams: When making jams, jellies, preserves or compotes, choose fruits that are ripe and flavorful — avoid fruits that are overly ripe or spoiled, as the jam may not set properly. Food safety is essential when canning at home; otherwise canned goods may contain botulism and other unsafe bacteria. Although the CDC recommends using a pressure canning method, the Food Network swear by traditional home canning techniques with boiling water.

Smoothies & juices: Everything gets ground together in a smoothie anyway, so overripe fruit losing its texture is perfect to throw in. Fruits tend to get sweeter as they age, so you may not need to add as much orange or pineapple juice, depending on your smoothie preferences. Add plenty of ice for texture as well, to make up for the mushy fruit. If you’re more of a purist, use your blender or juicer to make fresh fruit juice instead.

» Read more: 15 Fiber-Filled Fruity Smoothies

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Salad dressings: Who doesn’t love a crisp summer salad tossed with fruits, nuts and a slightly sweet, fruity dressing? Blend overripe fruit (strawberries are an especially great choice) with the dressing ingredients of your choice, according to — we like it mixed with olive oil or blended with a bit of yogurt to create a creamier dressing. To use up some of your ripe strawberries, try our Strawberry Poppyseed Dressing.

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