How long do you hold onto fresh fruits and vegetables before throwing them out? If you’re like most people, you probably get rid of them far sooner than you have to. Just because produce is near its prime or starting to go over does not mean it has passed its usefulness.
If you want to rescue your produce, the freezer is your friend. If you have a deep freeze, that is best, as you can extend the life of frozen fruits and vegetables. Here are some ways that you can use your frozen, past-prime fruits and vegetables. This will help save you money and you’ll have the joy of not wasting food.
You can freeze any berries that are close to or past their prime to extend their life. You can individually, or flash freeze, berries by laying them out on a pan that will fit on your freezer shelf. Just make sure that the edges of the berries do not touch and that you remove any stems. If you wash your berries first, let them dry thoroughly before you freeze them. Flash-frozen berries are easy to portion out of large containers for smoothies, jams, pancakes, cakes, or muffins. You can also use them for toppings for cakes, ice cream, or sundaes.
If your apples are past their prime, make applesauce. Cook the apples until they are nice and soft, and mash them into a sauce. You can use it right away or you can freeze it. This homemade applesauce also makes a great filling for fresh apple pie. Or core, sprinkle with cinnamon and microwave just until soft and serve a baked apple side dish for dinner.
Peppers, Carrots, Onions, and Celery
When these vegetables are close to turning, chop them up. Mix and match your chopped vegetables for recipes for soups, sauces, and stews. You can also portion them for salads. Simply defrost them before using them.
Zucchini, Squash, and Spinach
These can be frozen for different meals ahead of time. For bread and savory muffin or cake recipes, shred Zucchini and squash in your food processor. Spinach can be frozen whole leaf or chopped to use in soups, sauces, lasagna, or sides for meals.
Normally potatoes do not freeze well. You will also tend to use your potatoes long before they are past their prime because they last so long. Still, sometimes you end up with an old potato or two. Shred the potatoes in your food processor and freeze them. Shredded and finely chopped potatoes freeze very well and are great for delicious homemade hash browns and home fries.
Tomatoes that are past their prime can be pureed and frozen for up to 6 months. You can create your favorite homemade pasta sauce before freezing or save the pureed tomatoes for any recipe that calls for tomato sauce.
Grapes can turn fast, but that does not mean you have to throw them out. Once your grapes begin to turn, remove the stems and wash and dry them. You can freeze them just as you would berries and use them as delicious frozen snacks or use them to cool drinks like sangria.
Citrus is another food that will last a long time, usually up to 2 weeks, so you will not usually need to worry about it being past its prime. However, if you find your oranges or lemons are starting to brown, fear not. You can save the zest from any part of the peel that has not started to brown. Just grate it into a sealable bag to freeze. Once that’s done, juice the fruit and freeze it in ice cube trays, filling them about 1/3 full. You can use these fruit cubes for soups, drinks, or sauces.
What are your favorite tips for using up “past prime” produce?
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Rosie Kubiak says