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    Using Fruits Past Their Prime

    By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef | October 11, 2012

    My freezer is packed. Most of it's frozen fruit (for smoothies … of course!). My cabinets are pretty packed too. Nuts, seeds, grains, and superfoods like goji berries and cacao powder abound, waiting for the daily ritual of “what should we make?†But, I will admit: my fresh fruit basket is usually on the slimmer side, and there's really only one good reason: I hate having things go to waste.

    First there were the day-old “furry†strawberries.Then there were the 3-week-old peaches, entirely forgotten in the dark depths of the crisper drawer (not a pretty discovery). The final straw was the 4 pounds of cherries I excitedly bought one hungry farmer's market day… only to compost half of them later in the week. The lesson: buy fresh fruit often… as you need it. (And don't go to the farmer's market hungry.)

    Nevertheless, there are a few fruit varieties that I continue to keep around in bulk for spontaneous smoothies, due the benefits these fruits accrue through enzymatic browning. They may not look as picturesque as their fresh-picked counterparts, but the presence of brown on these aging fruits is a visual clue that the sugar content (and often the flavor) is increasing dramatically. While many of these fruits may no longer be the best for a grab-and-go snack due to problems of mushy and squishy origin, a blended smoothie will hide any strange textures, all while reaping every last drop of sweet flavorful benefits.

    Try these fruits that get more smoothie-friendly with age:
    Bananas: Use when very brown on the outside. A little interior browning on the inside is fine as well.
    Pears: The best pears for smoothies are the ones whose skin is barely maintaining a grip on the fruit. Should be very soft and juicy.
    Mangos: Mangos that have lost their outside luster are still a great smoothie addition. Brown on the outside is fine, but remove any brown the interior fruit may have.
    Peaches: As long as they're not moldy, the softer and mushier the peach, the sweeter it will taste, and the more flavor it will impart into the smoothie.
    Grapes: Everyone knows how sweet raisins are, and an older grape is simply on its way to becoming a raisin. You'll of course want to check to make sure grapes do not have any mold, but otherwise, an older grape makes a great smoothie addition.

    Ready to put a browning fruit to the test? This Green Extreme Smoothie featured in our Back-To-Basics Smoothment is certainly a perfect recipe to use up some “almost too late†pears. I make this one a lot at home!

    What fruit(s) do you always buy and are a must in your healthy food rotation?