What to Do with Overripe Fruit Like Peaches, Cherries & More

updated Sep 16, 2022
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Overripe fruit is a common problem this time of year — the abundance of beautiful fruit leads us to pick up more than we can possibly eat before those fruits get soft and squishy. There is a certain kind of beauty in a few overly ripe fruits on the counter, but the more pressing question is how can we use them up — and fast?!

The good news is you don’t need to be a master preserver to avoid wasting your summer bounty. In fact, you can likely use up overripe fruit in some of your go-to recipes for feeding yourself and your family. Here are 10 tasty ideas for using up fruits that are past their prime.

1. Make a small batch of jam.

Jamming doesn’t have to be a laborious, all-day affair! You can take a single pint of overripe berries or a half-dozen stone fruits and make a single jar of jam in less than an hour. This jam keeps best in the fridge and will buy you more time to use up summer fruit.

2. Make a quick bread.

Of course, we all know brown bananas are great for banana bread. But peaches, nectarines, and strawberries are also great in breads, muffins, and scones, where the chopped or mashed fruit bakes into jammy little pockets.

3. Bake a crumble, cobbler, or crisp.

The best solution for fruits that are no longer quite so plump and pretty is to wrap them in some pastry! Use our templates for making fruit crumble or fruit pie, and sub in whatever fruit needs using up.

Recipes: Our Top 10 Crumbles, Cobblers, and Crisps

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Freeze that fruit for future smoothies

Smoothies are always a good standby for using up fruit! It doesn’t matter how pretty they are, as long as they still taste good. I even find that the concentrated flavor makes especially tasty fruit smoothies.

Credit: Leela Cyd

5. Slow-cook a chunky sauce for pancakes or sundaes.

Give those syrupy, ripe fruits a rough chop — or even a smash with a potato masher — and you have an instant topping for pancakes or sundaes. Even better, fold the fruit right into the batter for fruit-filled pancakes.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

6. Use as a topping for grilled meats and fish.

Overripe fruit, if it hasn’t lost all of its juice, can still impart some good flavor to a sauce. Chop it into small bits (or whiz it in a blender) and add it to some chicken stock and balsamic vinegar to make a glaze or sauce for meat.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

7. Make a salad dressing.

If your fruit isn’t pretty enough to serve on top of your salad, put it in a blender with some olive oil, vinegar, herbs, and seasonings. It can make a fantastic, slightly sweet dressing for a salad — especially when you add some salty nuts or cheese.

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

8. Make fruit juice (or a cocktail).

If you have a juicer, your fruits can go right on in. If you don’t, try puréeing the fruit in a blender or food processor and straining it. The solids are great on top of yogurt and the juice can be drunk on its own or added to glasses of sparkling water or cider.

9. Make fruit leather.

This is especially good for fruits that have passed the squishy stage. Blend up the fruit and spread it in a thin layer on a Silpat or dehydrator rack — you can bake it at very low temperature in the oven until it’s leather-like or dehydrate it in a dehydrator.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

10. Freeze up Popsicles.

Last but not least, we can make Popsicles — one of my favorite afternoon snacks on a hot summer day. You can juice the fruit first and strain out the solids, but I love leaving some of the fruit a little chunky so that there are pieces to nibble.

What else do you do with overripe fruit?