What to Do with Half-Eaten Fruit

Anyone who spends time with young children is familiar with this phenomenon:
“I want an apple!”
[eats four bites]
“Let’s save it to later.  NO, Mama, don’t eat it!!  I will finish it next time.”
[next day] “I want a banana!  No, not an apple, a banana.  NO, Mama, don’t eat my apple!!  It’s for tomorrow.”
Eventually the refrigerator is filled with bitten fruits, turning brown and mushy.

Well, here’s a way to turn those fruits into a cooking project for parent-child togetherness, resulting in a tasty yet healthy snack! This works with any fruit except melon, so far as we know.

Collect all half-eaten fruits and fruits that are a little past their prime.  (If you feel you don’t have enough total fruit, throw in a can of crushed pineapple too.)  Remove moldy parts and cores, but edible peels can be left on, and parts that are so mushy you wouldn’t eat them raw will be just fine when they’re cooked.

Cut fruit into small chunks.  (My three-year-old can use a paring knife ineptly but safely; when he was younger, he’d use a butter knife.  I give him something to poke at while I am cutting, then finish the cutting of his piece.  Fruit doesn’t need to look nice for this recipe, and mutilating it actually helps it to release its juices and absorb other flavors.)

Put fruit in a pot over medium heat.  If it seems dry, add a little juice or water.  Instruct child in spice-sprinkling technique.  Let child season fruit with cinnamon, ginger, and maybe a little salt.  Taste it and adjust seasoning accordingly. If it tastes sour, add some sugar or honey or sorghum syrup.  When juice starts to bubble, reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently (let child stir, but take a turn yourself every once in a while to make sure it isn’t sticking to the pot), for about 15 minutes or until it turns into a nice saucy stuff.  Cook with lid on if fruit is very dry or you want a very liquid sauce; otherwise, let the juice boil off for more intense flavor.

We like to eat this with O’s cereal and plain yogurt.  It also can be used as a topping for ice cream or oatmeal or pancakes, or eaten by itself.  It’s similar to Cinnamon Apples but is fat-free and doesn’t necessarily need added sweetener–a lot of fruits get very sweet when cooked.

Bonus Feature: What to Do with Leftover Canned Corn
Puree it in food processor or blender.  Measure to find out how many cups you have, and multiply the Pumpkin Cornbread recipe by that number, substituting corn for pumpkin.  It’s not as nutritious, but it adds moistness and fiber to the cornbread.  It’s also not as flavorful, so season it in one of these ways, depending on what you plan to eat with it:

  1. Cinnamon.  Use a little extra sugar.
  2. Herbs, like rosemary and oregano.
  3. Substitute salsa for the orange juice.

P.S. Sixteen months after writing this article, I chose it as my “defining post” for this blog carnival.  I figure the common features of my articles are practical tips for everyday living, concern for the environment, parenting, and cooking…and this article combines them all!

UPDATE: In 2017, after a few experiences of making cooked fruit with my second child who’s now almost 3 years old, I’m linking this post to the Hearth & Soul Link Party, where you can find many other great food-related ideas! This week has an Easter theme; we’ve often made a huge cooked fruit sauce out of the fruit left over from our church’s Easter receptions.

Just this morning, my breakfast was yogurt and granola with apple left over from Lydia’s preschool lunch–sweetened with memories of all the cooked-apple-and-yogurt breakfasts I ate while pregnant with her. 🙂

Oh, and if you’re here for food ideas, be sure to check out the latest chapter of A Robot’s Cookbook!

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