There are a lot of reasons why you should embrace the brown fruit and vegetables that are in your fridge and at the grocery store. Let's take a look at the environmental and economic impact of the common disposal of this produce, how bruising affects nutrition, and how we can make the most of ugly fruits and veggies in the kitchen.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Resources Institute (WRI) define food waste as "the edible parts of plants and animals that are produced or harvested for human consumption but are not ultimately consumed." Tossing brown produce into the garbage only adds to the already alarming amount of food that's wasted in the United States. By embracing ugly or bruised fruit and vegetables, you can help cut down these numbers.
Nutrition in Brown Produce
The nutritional value of produce doesn't change with the introduction of bruising. Produce bruises simply because the flesh of the fruit or vegetable has been damaged. You can either eat the dark area or cut it out if that's more appealing to you. If you're cooking bruised fruit or vegetables, there's no need to cut out the bruised area unless there are signs of rotting.
Uses for Brown Fruit and Vegetables
There are plenty of recipes that call for produce to be processed or blended, which will hide the imperfections of bruised produce. Here are some options to consider:
- Juices and smoothies: What better way to use up brown produce than by tossing it into your juicer or blender? No one will know how your produce looked before it was blended or juiced, and it will taste just as delicious as a "pretty" fruit.
- Ice cream: Are your bananas looking a little brown? Throw them in the freezer for a quick, easy, and healthy ice cream alternative. All you have to do is toss the frozen bananas into your blender with some almond or cow's milk, a little honey or cane sugar, and peanut butter or chocolate for an amazing treat.
- Soups: The appearance of your veggies won't matter if their fate is to be simmered away or blended in a delicious, flavorful soup.
- Baked goods: Whether you use bruised apples, pears, bananas, zucchini, squash, or pumpkin, baked goods are a great way to use your "ugly" produce. Simply mash or blend the produce, and then add it to any standard baked good recipe. Mashed fruit and veggies can replace the oil in your baking recipes in a 1:1 ratio.
- Jelly and jam: Turn bruised strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries into a thick jam by simmering them with some sugar and water. If you prefer jelly, let your jam mixture cool, throw it in your blender, and strain out the seeds in a fine-wire colander
The problem of food waste is multifaceted. By using bruised or brown fruit, you can do your part to repurpose imperfect produce into something spectacular.