Written by Almaas Alam; Edited by L. Sanville MS, RDN, LD
Do you ever find yourself staring at the drooped, wilted, and overripe fruits and vegetables in your fridge that you paid good money for? Don’t be so quick to throw them out! Keep reading for some easy tips to use your ugly fruits and floppy vegetables.
Did you know that about 30-40% of the food supply is wasted? In 2010, 133 billion pounds and 161 billion dollars’ worth of food in the U.S. was wasted (USDA). Have you ever felt like you lost money by throwing out produce that you didn’t use in time?
First, common sense dictates that if vegetables and fruits are growing mold, releasing liquid, getting slimy, or smelling weird, goahead and compost it, or throw it away. However, softening, wrinkling, or wilting of the skin doesn’t necessarily mean it’s notedible! Here are five quick tips on how to lower food waste and save money in your home.
1. Revive your produce!
- Soak wilted carrots, green beans, kale, lettuce, spinach, chives, and other greens in a cold-water bath for 30 minutes in the refrigerator to restore them. Use within 24 hours.
- For vegetables with a stem, such as asparagus, broccoli, celery, parsley, basil, mint, and Swiss chard, treat likeroses! Trim at a slant 1 inch from the stem ends, place in a vase or glass of cold water and refrigerate for 1 hour.Use within 24 hours.
2. Freezers love veggies too!
- So, you bought too many greens at your local farmer’s market and realized you couldn’t use all of them? That’s okay because you can freeze almost anything!
- Blanching before freezing vegetables is a good idea because it helps to slow the loss of vitamins, flavor, color, and texture. Place your greens in a wire basket and put the basket in a pot of boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Once blanching is done, the vegetables need to be cooled instantly in cold water. After the veggies are cooled, drain well then freeze them! Blanched fruits and vegetables can be frozen for 8-12 months. (NCHFP)
- If you don’t have time to blanch your veggies, wash and drain them well, cut them up, and store the vegetables in airtight freezer bags or containers marked with the date.
3. Embrace the Ugly!
- Overripe bananas? Freeze any peeled bananas and use them to make banana pancakes, banana bread, or banana smoothies later!
- Citrus looking discolored? Squeeze the juice into ice trays to use for lemonade, salad dressing, tangy marinade, or flavored water!
- Squishy berries or peaches? Trim the soft spots and place cut-up fruit into a freezer bag. Mix them up in your favorite breakfast oatmeal or whip up some quick berry muffins!
- Soft tomatoes? Puree them up into a sauce or salsa! Use right away or freeze for future use.
4. Make it Tonight!
- Stir-frying is also a great way to use your drawer full of newly restored crisp and no longer wilted veggies. Try this recipe tonight!
- So, you didn’t save your produce in time, and there is no hope? Try composting the fruits and vegetables you can’t use at home.
Re-crisping veggies: A. Alam
Stir-fry peppers: Pixabay.com
Wilted cilantro: A. Alam