It’s a tale as old as vegetable crispers: you are in the midst of your weekly refrigerator clean out and you realize that you have some produce you forgot to use.
If you have a few crafty ideas to use your fruits and vegetables up quickly, you will not need to worry about wasting your money or the food itself. If you find yourself with a few leftovers, here are a few potential uses.
The most prevalent use for leftover fruits or vegetables in the spring or summer is to toss them into a smoothie. Sites like Bodybuilding.com offer dozens of different recipes for smoothies that use somewhat unusual ingredients, not just because they provide a unique flavor, but because they offer additional nutritional benefits. Add avocado to a green smoothie for a bit of creaminess and a boost of Omega-3s, or blend up some celery or zucchini for a natural increase in vitamin C.
Another relatively simple solution for leftover fruits or vegetables is to toss them into the freezer until you would eventually need them. In some cases, freezing fruit or vegetables may ultimately benefit a recipe you are putting together somewhere down the line—whether it is frozen bananas for homemade ice cream or peas and carrots for a stir-fry. Others, like grapes or sugar snap peas, make for delicious snacks on their own. In any case, be sure to check to see if certain fruits or vegetables require prepping or blanching before being frozen.
In contrast to freezing, fruits and vegetables can be preserved for longer periods of time through dehydration. You will need to purchase a dehydrator, which can also be used for the purposes of making homemade jerkies.
ReadyNutrition.com recommends canning jars, plastic snap containers or emptied-out soda bottles as go-to choices—and the food will hold for upwards of a year. Additionally, some dehydrated fruits and vegetables make for great snacks on their own.
Beauty and cleaning
Some fruits and vegetables have health benefits beyond nutrition. PopSugar.com’s Food section lists avocados, cherries, lemon and papaya as fruits that can be used in natural, homemade skin care products.
Placing raw slices of potato under your eyes is said to help lighten dark circles, and puréed cucumber is said to be a great exfoliator for feet. Citrus fruit in particular has a number of beauty and cleaning applications, with PopSugar.com listing among them grapefruit cleaning scrub, scented soap and candles, using orange peels as a shoe-deodorizer and using lemon rind to clean tea kettles and coffee carafes.
Colorful fruits and vegetables can be used to dye fabrics and clothing in a natural, safe manner. According to Planet-Science.com, one need only add water and vinegar (for fruit) or salt (for vegetables) to a saucepan, let the material simmer in the mixture for about an hour, remove and rinse with cold water, add fruit to the saucepan and bring to a boil, return the fabric to the pan and simmer for 20 minutes and let soak overnight.
There are several other applications for fruits and vegetables, from experimenting with new recipes to using them for your compost pile, meaning there is no reason to simply throw away what you do not use.
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