When I'm on top of my game, I buy and eat berries before there's even a flicker of mush or mold. But there are times when my berries get away from me and I find them a bit too far gone for eating fresh, but also still useful enough to hold on to. There are quite a few ways to use berries on their last leg, but these are the ways I turn to time and time again.
Our Assistant Food Editor Kelli is a bit of a fruit bat. She has a habit of buying more fruit than she can get through before it starts to get too ripe. No worries, though — she beats the fruit flies by puréeing overripe fruit and freezing it into cubes. I like to do this exact thing with berries.
Overripe berries take to this particularly well since they're already on the soft side. I drop the frozen cubes into smoothies on the regular. They're also really beautiful and quite tasty in a glass of fizzy seltzer, and bring a whole new meaning to a cocktail on the rocks. While you can certainly make cubes of just one type of berry, I like to mix and match and often go for the full medley, puréeing blueberries and blackberries or strawberries and raspberries together.
You know what's better than fresh berries? Fresh berry sauce. I love how strikingly vibrant a berry sauce can be, and look forward to draping raspberry coulis over everything from pancakes to a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A coulis is the French term for a pourable fruit sauce made from one ingredient. I like to think of it as an ode since it's sole purpose is to showcase the flavor of the fruit it's made with. You can add lemon juice to further amplify the flavor and even a pinch of sugar if the fruit isn't sweet enough. With overripe berries that's hardly ever the case. One note, however, is that coulis are meant to be very smooth so it's worth straining the purée to get the full effect.
3 Ways to Turn Berries into Sauce
Remember that deliciously sticky sheet of dehydrated fruit your parents used to give you as a kid? I'm still eating that stuff to this day, but I usually only make it when I've discovered the too-soft blackberries or strawberries that have managed to evade me in the fridge. This is a weekend project that will turn whatever berries (or fruit) you have into a preserved snack you can munch on with no real worries about it going to mush.
Get the Recipe: Blackberry-Chile Fruit Leather