It can be tricky to use produce before it becomes past its prime, and heaven knows most children (and plenty of adults) won’t eat a bruised piece of fruit, or less-than-crisp vegetable.  What’s a girl to do?

Less than desirable produce has a few options in our kitchen.  Vegetables get pureed or shredded, and blended into another dish, such as meatballs, pasta sauce, or meatloaf; or tossed into soup.  Fruit can go in the blender with some yogurt and become a smoothie, get diced and stirred into oatmeal, or become the star of the show.  If I’m ready to bake, I’ll take those slightly aged apples, blueberries, bananas, strawberries, peaches, pears, or really any fruit, and chop it up.  It spices up pancakes, waffles, muffins, or a quick bread.  If I’m not ready to bake, it’ll go into the freezer.  When I’m ready to use it, I’ll thaw it on the counter, or in the microwave.

A recent fruit revival

The banana bread is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to browned bananas, but there’s no reason to stop there.  On this day, I had a carton of strawberries getting mushy, so I used those as well.  It gave the bread even more moisture, and I had enough fruit to make two loaves, so one went into the freezer.

In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of applesauce and ¾ cup of sugar.  Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, until smooth.  Blend in 1 cup (about 3 medium) mashed bananas and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Add in any other fruit you’d like, such as blueberries or strawberries; even a handful of chocolate chips.  In a second bowl, combine 2 cups of flour (use at least half whole-wheat pastry flour, no one will ever know!), 1 tsp. baking soda, and ½ tsp each baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add dry ingredients into the banana mixture, mix only until moistened, and pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake 50-60 mins at 350, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Fresh fruit really jazzes up pancakes or waffles, so try mixing it into the batter the next time you’re making a weekend breakfast.  To find out what we’re doing with mature fruit at our house, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!