What can I make from lousy fruit?
September 30, 2010 5:23 PM   Subscribe

I buy fruit at the market for my toddler, but he doesn't always like it. Today's blackberries were too sour. Last week the apples were mealy. Sometimes the bananas get over-ripe before we can eat them all. What easy things can I do to transform "bad" fruit into other things that are still healthy for a kid?
posted by xo to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Blend them into milk or fruit juice. Smoothies are loved by all!
posted by richyoung at 5:27 PM on September 30, 2010 [6 favorites]

We add them to oatmeal, or to yogurt, or make them into smoothies. Or freeze them for smoothies later. Bananas get made into banana bread.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:28 PM on September 30, 2010

Banana ice cream.
posted by Wet Spot at 5:29 PM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Blender with some yogurt. Either use vanilla yogurt or add a dash of apple juice to sweeten up tart fruits. I throw bananas in the freezer before they get too ripe and then break those into chunks for smoothies.

If you have a local farmers' market, consider buying your fruit there. You can usually taste before buying so you won't get burned. Or, if your grocery has a produce manager, ask what's good.

Apples should be great this time of year, although some apples are really better for baking than eating out of hand and some apples are just crapples (Delicious, for example, are misnamed). Berries are generally pretty lousy out of season. There are other great winter fruits, like clementines and pomegranates. Since fruit is such an easy snack with so many benefits to your kid, it's worth finding out what varieties of which fruits are good during which seasons where you live.
posted by padraigin at 5:32 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, apples make great applesauce, and you can other fruits to flavor that, too.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:34 PM on September 30, 2010

Peel the bananas and freeze them in ziplocks. Take them out a day before you make banana bread or muffins.

Sour berries go well with stone fruit (peaches, apricots, nectarines).
posted by plinth at 5:41 PM on September 30, 2010

SMoothies all the way. If it's still too sour, add some honey! Mealy? Add yogurt!

Same goes for any kind of fruit 'processing'- Apple sauce can be sweetened or spiced, for example.
posted by GilloD at 5:45 PM on September 30, 2010

If your child doesn't like the texture of smoothies (I had one that didn't - she said it was like eating lotion) you can still mix fruit with yogurt and freeze it into popsicles. They seemed to always like those!
posted by garnetgirl at 5:47 PM on September 30, 2010

Puree and stir into oatmeal or yogurt. Applesauce. Muffins. Popsicles!
posted by geeky at 5:53 PM on September 30, 2010

carter jr. will drink kale in a smoothie. He pronounces it "suhmooooooooootheee!"
posted by carter at 5:57 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you have a juicer? (If not -- pick one up at a thrift shop. I saw my was-$150 Braun going for $8 the other day.)

Fire your non-banana fruit through the juicer -- add sugar if needed -- put this in ice cube trays or Dixie cups and freeze. When you need juice, just add water and shake. (A Dixie cup full of concentrate can be quickly nuked if you're in a hurry.)

Frozen bananas blended and served as "ice cream" went down well with 4 out of 6 of a two to six year old sample group.

Fruit salad-ing it all improves a lot of this sort of blah produce. Woody strawberries, tangy oranges, and blah grapes in fine dice = lovely. Fire anything in, keep a tub in the fridge and keep adding; serve as is or over yoghurt or oatmeal or whatever. It's a nice vehicle for introducing new fruits: but, of course you like fruit salad, it's got such-and-such favourite fruit of the moment in it!
posted by kmennie at 6:10 PM on September 30, 2010

As long as you use a low-sugar, whole grain recipe I think banana bread or apple bread would be healthy.
posted by bananafish at 6:21 PM on September 30, 2010

Boil the blackberries in a dash of water, add a quarter cup of sugar (or just enough to cut the tartness), taste as you go, and jar the jam.
posted by at the crossroads at 6:48 PM on September 30, 2010

Fruit leather!
posted by loquat at 6:57 PM on September 30, 2010

total derail, but my little person has finicky issues with all kinds of snacks, though she is a big fan of fresh apples whacked off of our tree with a stick (who wouldn't be psyched?). one thing that she always goes for is something called sea snax...it's a crispy salted nori (seaweed) that is crisped with olive oil and is really healthy. it is a total surprise to me that my daughter and most of her playdate friends can't get enough of this stuff. no sugar. yay.

that said, fruit jam is a great idea. it's a fun thing to do with mom/dad/grandmama/grandpapa and it's fun to eat afterwards. crappy apples go in applesauce or in a homemade pie. bananas in banana bread. make sure toddler helps!
posted by lakersfan1222 at 7:31 PM on September 30, 2010

seconding padraigin. grocery managers love to clue you in on the good shipments. ask at the grocery store what's good!
posted by lakersfan1222 at 7:33 PM on September 30, 2010

Broiling peaches or nectarines or pineapple until they caramelize makes them sweeter and delicious. (The added benefit is that if you slice up the fruit to eat fresh, and discover its not good, the only step you need to take is putting the slices on a cookie sheet and sliding it into the oven. Easy!)
posted by Kololo at 7:56 PM on September 30, 2010

Some people have suggested applesauce, which is yummy. You can make fruit sauce with just about any fruit you have the patience to cup cores/pits/stones out of. I made peach sauce a few weeks ago, plums and pears also work great, and if you have a little of several kinds of fruits, it all tastes good in a sauce together. (Just slice it up, cook it with a little bit of water, so it doesn't burn, and mash it a little with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.) It's great on waffles, ice cream, yogurt, or just in a bowl by itself. And if the fruit is bruised or getting overripe, this is a good way to use it up and have it still taste fabulous.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:29 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife started drizzling some agave nectar onto the raspberries and strawberries that she'd buy, after she's washed them. It sweetens them enough so that our toddler loves it, but not so much that it's offensive to us adults. As an added bonus, after sitting in the fridge for a few days, what remains at the bottom of the container is a deliciously sweet juice that my daughter loves to slurp up.

I also totally endorse the smoothie thing. A couple of times a week (including this morning), I troll the fridge and shelves from over-ripe or uneaten fruit to throw into the blender with some plain yogurt, some milk, and wheat germ. Smoothies are my favorite fast way to get rid of over-ripe bananas.
posted by scblackman at 4:02 AM on October 1, 2010

For bananas - slice them into inch wide rounds and pop them in the freezer with toothpicks in each round. Tasty tasty little frozen snacks! Also good with grapes and blackberries, no need for toothpick holders. The freezing seems to make them much less tart.
posted by stoneweaver at 6:38 AM on October 1, 2010

Chop the fruit, toss with a little bit of something sweet if it's too sour (sugar, agave, maple syrup, honey, etc) then make mini pancakes and put the fruit pieces into them in little patterns.

Eat too-tart fruit in alternate bites with something salty (rice crackers? popcorn?) to bring out the sweetness.

Mealy apples are pretty great baked. Core, pop in a little brown sugar, a dab of butter, and some raisins, then cover with foil and bake until soft.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:37 AM on October 1, 2010

Bananas that are overripe can be frozen and used later in smoothies or banana bread. Make applesauce out of your apples, and then make banana bread substituting applesauce for some of the oil in the bread. Quick breads, like banana bread, freeze well.
posted by asphericalcow at 2:27 PM on October 1, 2010

I had a babysitter who would slice apples, then fry them in butter and cinnamon and sugar in a frying pan. Awesome dessert!! Also works with bananas.
posted by radioamy at 5:45 PM on October 2, 2010

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