There are endless recipes and cooking ideas for making the most of your fresh fruit, but what do you do when your ripe produce, like bananas, become discolored and mushy after sitting a little too long on the kitchen counter? If you're like most, you throw away the overripe offenders, but sustainable foods advocate says you shouldn't be so quick to turn toward the trash can.
Jenny McGruther, food educator and author of The Nourished Kitchen, is all about cooking with simple ingredients that are inherently flavorful, and says that overripe fruits fall beautifully into that category. You just have to know how to use them. Her favorite combination? Overripe bananas and smoothies.
"You can absolutely use overripe, brown bananas in a smoothie," she says during an interview for the web series #OWNSHOW.
The only thing McGruther suggests being cautious about is how the ripeness of the banana changes its flavor. "Overripe bananas can be sweeter than bananas that are just yellow," she says. "So you want to cut down on any additional sweetener you might add."
This natural sweetness makes bananas an ideal ingredient in smoothies, but McGruther points to two other big benefits in blending this fruit. "They're also super creamy, so they can add a creamy texture to your smoothies without necessarily adding dairy," she explains. "Another benefit to adding bananas to smoothies is that they are a binding ingredient. That means that they help the emulsification process, which helps all the ingredients blend together and stay together."
Bananas aren't the only overripe fruit that McGruder says are great in smoothies. She also suggests incorporating mushy peaches, plums and strawberries as well -- with one caveat.
"You don't want to add anything that's clearly 'off,' like molded, for example," she says. "But any of the other fruits that are slightly soft are really great in smoothies because they're extra sweet, which is nice, and also because of their soft texture, they blend together really well."