Everyone loves fresh produce. It’s tasty, healthy, and essential for pretty much every recipe. If you find yourself only heading to the supermarket once a week or less, it can be pretty challenging to eat everything before it goes bad. And no matter how well you store fruits and vegetables, some of them will go bad if not used or frozen in time. Unless you have an outdoor or kitchen garden, chances are it can be an expensive pain to go back and forth from the grocery store to constantly restock produce.

The window to eat your produce before it goes from ripe to overripe can be as tight as a few days. And if everything can’t be eaten on time, it can be tempting to toss overripe fruit and veggies in the garbage. No one really likes to eat a soft, mushy banana, right?

But just because they don’t taste great, doesn’t mean there isn’t some creative ways to make use of overripe fruit. In fact, there are a bunch of really great recipes to whip up using produce that’s slightly past its prime. So instead of contributing to waste, check out these tips and tricks to help salvage overripe produce.

Creative ways to Use Overripe & Wilted Veggies

Wilted Vegetables

Wilted lettuce doesn’t need to go directly into the compost.

There’s no better time to enjoy vegetables then when they’re fresh. But it’s not always realistic to get to them in time. The window before they start to go bad can be a quick one, so it’s important to make good use of any veggie that’s past their prime. Once they lose their vibrant and bright colors, it’s pretty safe to assume that vegetables are on the decline. Here’s some tips and tricks to make use of everything, and to cut down on excess waste!

  • Pickle it: Pickling veggies that are overripe is a great way to salvage them while still making something delicious. Experiment with peppers, radishes, tomatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and green beans!
  • Make a homemade pasta sauce: Tomatoes that are overripe can be peeled and simmered down to a boil and made into a delicious red sauce! It can be used on pasta, pizza, or even as a dipping sauce! This recipe for “ugly” tomato sauce is a favorite, and super easy to replicate.
  • Create a unique salad dressing: Toss together veggies like cabbage, peppers, carrots, garlic and cucumbers into a food processor or a blender. Add some oil and vinegar, fresh herbs and spices, and enjoy over a fresh bowl of greens.
  • Cook up a delicious soup or stew: Combine together some veggies, broth or stock, and spices into a large pot. Let them simmer for hours. Since they’re being boiled, you don’t need to use veggies that are at peak freshness. You can even take veggies that have grown soft, like carrots or potatoes, and throw in a blender to puree to make a thicker soup. Check out one of our favorite recipes for a veggie filled soup that will have you licking the bowl clean!
  • Blend into Juice: If you have a trusty blender, take some vegetables like kale and sweet potatoes and mix with almond milk (or butter), or peanut butter for a deliciously healthy juice!
  • Cut up some delicious veggie chips: An easy and delicious option for overripe vegetables, this one is always a crowd favorite. Slice the veggies super thin. Once done, garnish with herbs and spices of your choice, drizzle with a little vegetable oil, and roast them in the oven until crisp.
  • Compost ‘Em: Maybe you don’t want to eat your leftover veggies. And thats OK. But don’t let them go to waste! Instead, try composting the veggies to create rich soil to help your garden plants flourish and grow.

Creative ways to use Overripe Fruit

Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies are a great way to use overripe fruit.

If you’re looking to harness the power of overripe fruit, it’s actually pretty easy. As long as the fruit isn’t moldy, they can be used in a variety of different ways and recipes. Overripe fruit is often sweeter and juicier than when fresh, so they can be pretty helpful in a number of dishes. Here’s some of our favorite ways to make use of overripe fruit.

  • Blend into a delicious smoothie: Soft, overripe fruits are perfect when it comes to whipping up a smoothie. Grab a blender and puree fruit like bandannas, kiwi, or strawberries together with ice, milk, juice or yogurt to create a tasty smoothie. Not sure of the process? Here’s one of our favorite recipes for a fruit smoothie. You can even freeze overripe fruit to use in smoothies for a future date.
  • Freeze up Popsicles: Everyone’s favorite summer snack is easy to make with overripe fruit. Take overripe fruits like berries, strain out and collect the juice, and freeze with a little water and a popsicle stick and enjoy this tasty concoction on an especially hot day.
  • Make homemade jelly & jam: Homemade jam is a deliciously fun and rewarding process. Take overripe fruit like strawberries, cherries, citrus, or raspberries. It’s pretty simple, and doesn’t have to be an all day project. Muddle the fruit, throw in a pan over the stove top, and mix with some juice and sugar, and stir to reduce down to a jam. Check out this step by step guide on how to make homemade jam here.
  • Squeeze fresh juice: Overripe fruit is perfect for making homemade juice. Take citrus or other fruit and place in a blender or juicer. This recipe for orange juice is one of our favorites.
  • Bake a bread or cobbler: If you have a sweet tooth like us, nothing is better than baking up some bread or delicious deserts with overripe fruit. We love making banana bread, and nothing beats good old fashioned apple cobblers.