Top News

MARGARET PROUSE: Making the most of fruits and vegetables before they are past their prime

Overripe bananas can be used to make banana loaf.
Overripe bananas can be used to make banana loaf. - 123RF Stock Photo

Sometimes I think I’d accomplish more if I were more attentive to routines, doing the same things at the same times every day or every week. Then, along comes something to challenge that thinking. Tasks become urgent and must be done right away or not at all.

Take last week, for example. 

My husband picked the apples from our two trees, and we decided to make them into pies for the freezer this year. The yield wasn’t big, but, lacking a cold room, we wanted to use them right away while they were firm and fresh. 

It was a joint effort, with him peeling, coring and slicing, and me making pastry and assembling pies. It took most of a day to produce 13 pies, 12 for the freezer and one as an immediate reward for our work. 

Then there were the tomatoes. We have a tray of green tomatoes from the garden, gradually ripening in the house. The heyday of this year’s tomato crop has passed, and the ones we have ripening indoors have some marks and scars, so they don’t keep well and need to be used quickly. 

On the weekend, there were enough ripe ones, maybe 10 – I didn’t count – that needed to be used. I peeled, chopped and simmered them with chopped onion and minced garlic until the sauce was thick and aromatic. The timing was good, as we had half a spaghetti squash from our neighbour’s garden sitting in the crisper, waiting to be used. Roasted spaghetti squash and fresh tomato sauce sprinkled with Parmesan cheese made a tasty, seasonal meal.

The same day, I felt obliged to use the four overripe bananas that we’d forgotten to eat. There was enough mashed fruit to make 1½ times my mother’s well-tested banana loaf recipe, which became eight mini loaves (a.k.a. rectangular muffins) and eight muffins. Quality control got a few of them, and the rest are in the freezer, ready to be retrieved when needed.

Here is the recipe I used. The original called for shortening, which I replace with butter when I make it. Another change from the original: because I use salted butter in the recipe, I omit the 2 ml (½ tsp) of salt called for when shortening is used. 

After stirring in the flour, I divided the batter in half, and added about 100 ml, just less than half a cup, of chopped walnuts in one half and the same amount of chocolate chips in the other. My mother used to add candied cherries to hers. 

Mom’s Banana Bread

500 mL (2 cups) all-purpose flour

5 mL (1 tsp) baking powder

2 mL (½ tsp) baking soda

125 mL (½ cup) soft butter

250 mL (1 cup) lightly packed brown sugar

2 eggs

250 mL (1 cup) mashed ripe bananas, about 3

125 mL (½ cup) chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 150 C (300 F). Grease loaf pan. 

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda.

Cream together butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs, and then mashed bananas.

Stir in flour mixture, just until combined, and gently stir in walnuts, if using.

Turn into greased loaf pan and bake in preheated oven until firm and tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, about one hour.

Here’s another recipe I used last week. You can see a picture on my guest blog post for Lady Baker’s Tea.  

Maple Cookies

625 mL (2½ cups) all-purpose flour

2 mL (½ tsp) baking soda

250 mL (1 cup) butter

250 mL (1 cup) lightly packed brown sugar

2 mL (½ tsp) maple extract

1 egg

35-40 pecan halves

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).

Line two baking pans with parchment. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda, and set aside. 

Cream together butter and brown sugar. Beat in maple extract and egg. 

Stir in flour mixture.

Drop cookie dough by the spoonful, or from a cookie scoop, and flatten with a fork which has been dipped in cold water. Press a pecan half into the centre of each cookie.

Bake in preheated 180 C (350 F) oven for 12-15 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned. 

About 36 cookies. 

Margaret Prouse, a home economist, writes this column for The Guardian every Friday. She can be reached by email at [email protected].

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories