Food waste is ‘berry bad

The weather is getting warmer and summer is just a shy month or so away, you know what that means… strawberry season is upon us!

Those luscious and bright red berries are so sweet, and it’s got just the right hint of tang. Add that healthy dose of anti-oxidents, who could resist! They literally come in all shapes and sizes, and I have often found the stranger they look the sweeter they become. Unfortunately, misshapen strawberries are a fact of life but luckily, they taste no less sweeter than the perfectly symmetrical ones.

What Causes Deformed Strawberries?

what causes deformed strawberriesNubbins and button strawberries are caused by external, usually damaging agents. Feeding by plant bugs, cold injury to nutrients deficiencies  can cause deformed strawberries to form.  Additionally, inadequate pollination and high temperatures can result in poorly formed strawberries.

mutant strawberriesThe other type of deformed strawberries have a cockscomb or fasciated appearance, hence their name.  They generally look like several strawberries have fused and grown together as a single fruit. This deformity is usually caused by either short daylight intervals or cold, dry weather.

Misshapen strawberries are safe to eat.

To spot truly spoiled strawberries, look for splotches on the exterior. You can also press a few of the strawberries with your index finger; the texture should be firm but give slightly to the pressure. Overripe strawberries are mushy, they are still fine to eat within a day and are best to use them in recipes. If the berry has gone bad it will often have a rotten odor and you should discard them right away. Strawberry mold often start out looking white, then progresses to a light greenish grey colour.

Strawberries are so versatile in the kitchen and knowing how to store them can dramatically reduce unnecessary wastage. They are also very delicate fruits, they are similar to a sponge in the sense that they will absorb absolutely everything! Some of the main causes of spoilage is if they come into contact with dirty water or equipment during harvesting; unhygienic handling of strawberries can also easily spread disease within the fruit.

STORAGE TIPS

  • Keep your strawberries dry and only wash before eating them. Strawberries soak up every bit of moisture which makes them more likely to get mushy, spoil faster, and get moldy quicker.
  • Keep stems intact until you eat them to prolong shelf life
  • Old can spread easily so if you notice a moody strawberry or two in a container, remove them from the rest

If you don’t plan on eating your strawberries the day you bring them home, then refrigerate them. It is highly recommended you remove them from the original container, and store them whole and unwashed in a partially-closed container lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture, preferably in a single layer so they don’t get crushed. They should stay fresh for up to 7 days.

To keep strawberries for a longer period, you can freeze them. Remove the stems, then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet until solid. You can store them in an airtight container or tiptop freezer bag. Frozen strawberries are great as you can throw them into any smoothie, oats or any baking recipes like muffins or cupcakes. We might just share some of our favourite recipes in the coming week!

-VS

Recipe: Ugly Banana Bread

Image courtesy of TheKitchn.com

Even completely brown bananas are fine to use to make banana bread; this can take 2-4 weeks of ripening. When you eventually cut it open the flesh should be quite gooey and syrupy, which is perfect for your banana bread. If the flesh is more dark and mealy, they are still safe to eat. If you suspect your bananas are rotten or smells “bad” then discard them right away.

For once, forgetfulness can be rewarded. A bunch of forgotten, overripe bananas on the counter is the perfect excuse to make a loaf of banana bread. In fact, experienced bakers will tell you that the more brown and mushy your bananas are the better the better and more flavorsome they are for your baked banana treats. In fact, black bananas (such as pictured above) are PERFECT to use in baking recipes as long as the fruit is not mouldy.

So next time you’ve got some sad, brown and spotty bananas lying on your kitchen counter, don’t throw them out but rather, make some delicious “ugly banana” bread that your neighbours will be knocking on your door for!

Without further ado, here is the Ugly Banana Bread Recipe (bonus: sugar free!):

Time
1 hour including prep & cooking time

Ingredients

  • 3 ugly bananas
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate melts

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 185 degrees. Lightly grease a standard loaf pan with butter.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mash up bananas and milk. Once well mixed, add in honey, butter, and egg. Mix well.
  4. Stir in dry mixture until well blended. Fold in the choc bits.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  • To freeze, wrap loaf tightly wrapped in foil and it can last in the freezer up to 3 months.  

-VS

RECIPE: HOME-MADE ‘UGLY APPLE’ APPLESAUCE

Following from our previous post, here is one simple and delicious way to preserve your  #uglyapples or apples that you suspect may not get eaten before they turn ugly.

applesauce

The versatility of applesauce leads to endless possibilities. It makes for a great treat-snack-condiment-ingredients and is so easy to whip up! Spread it on your morning pancakes or mix it into your oatmeal with some honey, compliment any pork dishes, put a spoonful on your teacake, use as a healthy alternative to oil in many baked goods …. as I say, endless possibilities!

And did I mention how easy it is to make?!

Time
40 minutes including prep & cooking time

Ingredients

  • 2kg apples
  • 1 cup apple juice or cider
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Steps

  1. Peel, core & slice
  2. In a medium pot, mix your chopped up apples with a cup of apple juice or cider.
  3. Squeeze some lemon juice and add in half a cup of brown sugar.
  4. Cook over medium heat for 25 minutes or until apples are soft.
  5. Transfer into a food processor and puree until smooth.

Tip: Add a bit of cinnamon and butter can really enhance the flavour!

Storage: In a airtight jar your applesauce will last for up to 3 weeks, in a freezer up to 2 months!

-VS