Inventive ways to use over-ripe fruit and stale bread

Avoid waste by adopting a thrifty approach to using up food that would otherwise be destined for the bin... 

With a bit of canny cooking, you can transform past-its-best fruit and bread into plenty of delicious dishes the whole family will love.

STALE BREAD

Stale bread doesn’t quite make the grade when you fancy a sandwich. But baked, blitzed to crumbs or converted into herby crackers... now you’re talking.

Herby crackers

Very thinly slice a day-old baguette. Arrange on a large baking tray, drizzle both sides with olive oil, scatter with chopped rosemary or thyme and season. Grill for 4 minutes, turning halfway, or until crisp and golden. Leave the crackers to cool completely then store in an airtight container.

Breadcrumbs

Roughly chop slightly stale bread and blitz to fine crumbs in a food processor. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months. Breadcrumbs can be toasted and scattered over pasta, used to finish gratins, as part of romesco sauce or to crumb quick and easy-to-prepare chicken dippers.

Cheesy focaccia fingers

Spread slices of slightly stale bread with homemade or store-bought béchamel sauce. Scatter generously with grated cheese (use whatever you have to hand) and bake for 8-10 minutes in an oven preheated to 200˚C, gas mark 6, or until the edges are golden and cheese bubbling. Cut into fingers and serve with fruit.

OVER-RIPE FRUIT

Kids sometimes turn their noses up at fruit that’s even slightly bruised. So give it all a new guise with these clever recipe ideas.

Frozen fruit smoothies

Chop any excess fruit, divide among sealable bags and freeze – mango and pineapple, strawberry and banana, melon and kiwi are all delicious duos. To make the smoothies, put the frozen fruit in a blender with a dollop of yogurt and good splash of milk. Blitz until smooth and thick. Finish with pieces of fruit, if you like.

Roasted fruit tray

Drizzle halved or quartered over-ripe fruit (eg pears, plums and nectarines) with honey. Add cinnamon sticks and bay leaves, if you like. Mix to coat. Arrange on a baking tray and roast for 12-15 minutes in an oven preheated to 180˚C, gas mark 4. Serve with cream, spoon over pancakes or enjoy with granola or porridge.

Poached fruit

Poaching is a lovely way to use up an excess of fruit – pears, apples, peaches and nectarines all work well. To poach 4 pears, set a saucepan over a medium heat with 350g caster sugar, 1 litre water, 1 vanilla pod and the pared zest of 1 lemon. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add 4 peeled pears and simmer for an hour, or until tender.


CHICKEN DIPPERS

Makes 6
Prepare 15 minutes
Cook 15 minutes

  • 50g plain white flour
  • 1 tsp spinneysFOOD Fine Paprika
  • 2 spinneysFOOD Free Range Eggs, beaten
  • 100g breadcrumbs from stale bread (see above)
  • 2 spinneysFOOD Chicken Breasts, flattened and each cut into 3 strips
  • 1 tbsp spinneysFOOD Sunflower Oil
  • celery, cucumber and carrot crudités, to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Tip the flour and paprika onto a plate. Season and mix to combine. Put the beaten eggs and breadcrumbs on separate plates.
  2. Dredge 1 chicken strip in flour. Dip in beaten egg, shaking off the excess, and coat in breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining strips.
  3. Transfer to the tray and drizzle with the oil. Cook for 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the outside is crisp and golden.
  4. Divide the chicken dippers among plates. Serve with celery, cucumber and carrot crudités on the side.

FRUIT 'LEATHER' ROLL-UPS

Makes 20
Prepare 40 minutes plus cooling
Cook 12 hours

  • 300g apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 500g fruit (blackberries, kiwi or peaches)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest and juice of 3 clementines
  • 50g organic coconut blossom sugar (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Line a 30cm x 35cm baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Set a large saucepan with the apples, 500g fruit of your choice, the lemon juice and clementine zest and juice over a medium-high heat. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes, or until the fruit is soft and pulpy.
  3. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, until all the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Transfer to a blender and blitz to a smooth pulp. Taste and add the sugar, if you like.
  5. Pour onto the prepared tray and use a spatula to spread the pulp into an even 0.5cm layer.
  6. Bake for 12 hours (or overnight) until leathery and dry. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  7. Slice into 1.5cm strips. Roll up, layering with baking paper. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.