Joni Sare, cooking instructor

What to do with under-ripe fruit


Here in Northern California we are already seeing summer fruit, yet it’s the first pickings and they definitely are not soft and not ripe, and are not-so-easy or enjoyable to eat as is. The young fruits lack in complex flavors, juiciness and sweetness. So, I’m writing to give you tips on how to bring in some complexity, draw out their juices and give’m a bit of a sweet boost. Here are seven ways that I used not-quite-ripe fruit, I’m hoping you’ll add a comment on how you have used’m.

7 ways to use under-ripe fruit

  1. Use in a smoothie or fruit pudding: put sliced fresh fruit in a blender along with a date or two, add a pinch of salt, some liquid and a flavor (see below for ideas for liquids and flavors).
  2. Freeze, then use in a smoothie: slice the fruit, then freeze single-layer on baking sheet, then use the frozen slices in a smoothie along with a date or two, add a pinch of salt, some liquid and a flavor (see below for ideas for liquids and flavors).
  3. Use in a roast or stew: add sliced pieces or chunks to any stew, it’ll add a bit of exotic-ness to your dish.
  4. Use in a cooked breakfast porridge: add sliced pieces or chunks, along with nuts and other flavors to any breakfast gruel such as: steel-cut oats, or millet and buckwheat.
  5. Braise the fruit: slice the fruit, put the slices in a saute pan with just enough liquid to cover, add some flavor and cook for 10 minutes, or until soft (see below for ideas for liquids and flavors).
  6. Freeze, then thaw: this technique will change the texture to a more ripe-like softness. Slice the fruit, then freeze single-layer on baking sheet, thaw and use in a fruit salad, with yogurt, or add to your breakfast gruel.
  7. Bake’m, use them in a pie: you’ll probably want to add a bit more sweetener, like soaked dates, or a sweet apple.
  8. Juice the types of fruit that are watery, be sure to remove pits. From here you can drink the juice, freeze it, or make a sorbet.
  9. Dehydrate them to make fruit leather, or slices to use in the future (in smoothies, soups, sauces and so much more).
  10. Fermentation is another avenue yet this method is not in my sphere of influence, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for ideas.
  11. Use the fruit in marinades, some fruits can be quite sour when not-too-ripe, which is perfect for a marinade.
  12. Make a reduction sauce with white or red wine, and some herbs. YUM.
  13. Saute them quickly (thin slices or dices are best) with water until soft, serve warm over ice cream.

Liquid and flavor ideas:

  • yogurt
  • orange (peel and seeds removed)
  • grain or nut milks (almond, cashew, hazelnut, rice, oat)
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, clove
  • Chinese 5 spice
  • vanilla
  • cardamom
  • chai tea
  • ginger tea
  • ginseng tea
  • mint tea


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