By Malou Herkes
Cutting food waste has never been so important, both for our pocket and world around us. We need to be aware of how much we’re throwing out and learn how to avoid it. There are so many things we can do, it’s just knowing how.
Eating is getting more expensive. Since 2006, food prices have risen by 20%, far higher than the average salary increase. With the cost of food at an all-time high, we’re spending an ever-greater proportion of our wages on what we eat, and yet the UK continues to waste a combined 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink, every year – costing an estimated £12 billion. That means the average household throws away £630 of food and drink every year*. To put it another way, that’s two months’ worth of food bills**!
As Jamie shows in his latest book, Save with Jamie, it’s easy to spend less on food, simply by shopping intelligently, wasting less and cooking to make our ingredients go further. So, with summer drawing to a close and the glut of autumnal fruit that we have at our disposal, it seemed only right to give you some tips on how to use them up before they go bad.
To do that, all you need is a freezer. As soon as you realise you’re not going to use an item of fruit, chop it up, bag it up and freeze it. Peel and chop bananas, core and slice apples and pears, hull strawberries, destone and chop plums, mangoes and other stone fruit. Pop them in sealable sandwich bags, in whatever combination you like, and place them in the freezer ready to use when you fancy. Here are some simple ideas to show you what to do next.
Simple frozen fruit smoothies are tasty, nutritious and super-easy to whip up for breakfast when you’re in a rush. The great thing with using frozen fruit is that there’s no need to add ice cubes to make them refreshingly cool.
You can take your smoothie concoctions a step further by turning them into ice lollies. It’s great for getting kids in the kitchen and showing them that eating fruit is far tastier and more exciting than they think. These ice lollies are quick and fun to make, and count as one of your five-a-day. You can use any variation you think works (or ask your kids what combos they want).
Frozen fruit can also be used to make a quick-fix ice cream – berries tend to work best, whizzed up with a bit of yoghurt, honey and maybe mint. Give this strawberry ice cream a go – it’s easy to make and low in fat so it’s perfect if you want a tasty sweet treat.
Jams are great for using up a glut of either fresh or frozen fruit too, and when stored in sterilised jars they will last for months. Georgie from the food team has done an amazing blog all about preserves, so give it a read.
Making compotes is also really simple, and they’re delicious stirred through your morning porridge, swirled through a rice pudding or served with a few dollops of yoghurt. Taking the theme even further, you can turn any leftover compote into cute, fruity ice cubes to add to cocktails when you’re hosting – simply divide it between ice cube trays and keep in the freezer until you need them.
And last but not least: crumbles, pies and puddings are cheap and easy to make. Both fresh and frozen fruit will work and taste equally as good. Desserts like these are really versatile, so you can easily swap in whatever fruit needs using up, whether it’s an appleberry pie, plum and kiwi crumble, or a variation with rhubarb, raspberries, pears and so on. As we’re bang in blackberry season at the moment, try using them up in this blackberry and apple pie. It would work just as well with frozen berries too if you want to make it later in the year.
So use the freezer to your advantage and you’ll never have to see a sad, mouldy apple in your fruit bowl again. There are plenty more recipes out there that just need a little tweak to be perfect for frozen fruit or if you want to use up a glut of fresh fruit too, so check out Jamie’s fruit recipes for loads more ideas.
**Which? researchers state that UK households typically spend about £76 per week on food