The kids took ONE bit of an apple & then put it on the counter where it browned. Is it a lost cause? They pulled the strawberries out, ate half of them & left the rest on the counter. They're warm, but not moldy or bad. Do you throw them out? Put them back in the fridge? You don't want to waste your money. You're cleaning out the fridge and find a forgotten pack of raspberries. They're not bad, but they're old enough that you know no one in your family will eat them. You let the bananas go just a little too long. Now, they look brown and nasty on the outside (and probably a little brown on the inside too). You've got some peaches and plums that are now overripe. Is there any way to get your family to eat them?
Or...my common problem: Strawberries are $.99/lb. Your family eats a LOT of them, but not all in one week. You hate to lose this great price, but you can only buy so much at one time.
Is there any way to rescue the almost-gone fruit? Is there a good way to take advantage of that GREAT sale without losing money on wasted fruit?
You freeze them. I know this is a LOT easier said than done if you have a giant freezer like mine. (Side note: I think a chest freezer is one of the best investments you can make as you move towards more frugal &/or healthier eating.) Regardless, you can still rescue these fruits (or buy more on sale than you can eat at one time) even if you don't have a giant freezer. You just have to be more creative with your freezer space.
It is SO simple! You don't have to blanche the fruits or do anything else fancy to them like you do with veggies.
Here are some simple guidelines regarding freezing fruits and berries:
- I recommend cleaning all fruits & berries before freezing them.
- If wet, freeze berries on a wax-paper or parchment-lined cookie sheet and then drop into a baggie once frozen. If they are dry when freezing, just drop them in a baggie! (Frozen berries taste GREAT on cereal on a hot day! My husband will take just pour milk over frozen blueberries and make a blueberry ice-cream...the milk freezes because the blueberries are frozen.)
- Remove pits from fruits such as peaches, plums, and nectarines.
- If freezing bigger fruits like apples, pears, peaches, plums, nectarines, etc. then cut them up first. I'll at least quarter the fruit, but you can cut them smaller or even dice them if you prefer. (Frozen, diced fruits make a GREAT "ice cube" for water or tea on a hot day.)
- You don't have to peel fruits like apples and pears, but if you will only eat them peeled then you should do so before freezing them.
- Peel bananas before freezing them. That one's kind of important. I test it for you so you don't have to. Trust me, you do NOT want to try peeling a frozen banana! I usually use them for smoothies so I'll just peel them and throw them into a baggie whole. I will sometimes cut them & lay the cut slices on a cookie sheet then place them in a baggie when frozen. Frozen bananas are great with wheaties-type cereals.
- Don't be afraid of brown bananas. They are sweeter than non-ripe bananas. This makes them good for smoothies and banana breads.
- You can throw any cut, frozen fruit in a blender for a smoothie. At one time or another, I have put every type of fruit we buy in a smoothie. (I even put veggies in mine...but that's a topic for another post...) Bananas and strawberries are kind of the great "neutralizers" in smoothie making. They'll cover up pretty much anything. Too sour from too many dark berries? Add bananas &/or strawberries!
- Be sure to label your baggies so you know when you froze your fruit. Even if you go through it quickly like we do, it helps to make sure that you use the older fruit first. Frozen fruits are generally good for 1 year from the date they are frozen if they are kept in a deep-freeze.