A couple of weeks ago I was walking around my local shopping centre complex thing, and happened upon the seconds stand at the fruit shop, AKA that thing that I often walk past but rarely think about. On it are fruits and vegetables which are considered too ugly for the shops, but which are perfectly fine and edible (Mirosch, 2014). And up to 50% cheaper (Harris Farm, n.d.)!
Seconds can be found all over the place, and are great because not only are they better value, but they also help to support farmers and reduce wastage. It’s been suggested that 25% of fruit and veg don’t even leave their farms because they’re considered “too ugly” to be chosen by supermarkets (and their demanding customers) (Harris Farm, n.d.). Shops that sell these ugly fruit and veg (such as Harris Farm Markets in New South Wales, Charlie’s Fruit Market in Brisbane, and Woolworths’ Odd Bunch range across Australia) are able to make use of this perfectly decent (sometimes better, in my opinion) produce.
The fruit on the seconds stand at my local fruit shop was mostly over-ripe and a little bruised – perfect for baking! And thus the idea to make banana bread with a little extra fruit (in this case apricots) was formed. I ended up waiting another week or so before I used the fruit I bought, which was excellent for the bananas but probably less great for the apricots. 😜
Why is over-ripe fruit good for baking?
Science! As fruit ripens, these things change (Thompson, 2003):
- Carbohydrates: Starch is broken down into sugar.
- Acid and tannins: Acidity tends to decrease and tannins change in structure, further helping the fruit to taste sweeter and less astringent (giving less of a puckering or dry sensation in your mouth).
- Texture: Cellulose and pectic substances are broken down, meaning that the fruit becomes less rigid and crispy.
- Flavour: Volatile substances, which give fruit their characteristic flavours, increase.
So, over-ripe fruit is good because it’s extra sweet and has a stronger flavour. The squishy texture may not be the most appetising if you’re eating it raw, but no one will notice if you’re cooking it anyway, and in the case of bananas, they’re easier to mash. 😉
I am using a recipe for ‘Banana Maple Syrup Bread‘ from Super Food Ideas, because I’ve made it before. I halved the caster sugar to make use of the natural sweetness of the over-ripe fruit. I’m using wholemeal flour (of course) – usually I would reduce the amount of flour a little when I am completely replacing white with wholemeal in a recipe, since the bran in wholemeal flour absorbs more liquid; however, since my apricots are super squishy, I’m hoping that translates to extra liquid to compensate and keep things moist.
What difference did it make?
Per 100g, I’ve doubled the fibre content and reduced overall sugar by almost a third.
The recipe – Banana and Apricot Bread
- 125g butter, softened
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 3 bananas, mashed (~1 cup)
- 1 1/2 cups wholemeal plain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
- 2 apricots, sliced
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease two 5cm-deep, 6.5cm x 12.5cm (base) loaf pans.
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and maple syrup in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined.
- Add banana. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
- Sift flours and bicarbonate of soda over butter mixture. Stir until just combined.
- Spoon mixture into prepared pans. Smooth top and top with sliced apricots. Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre of loaves comes out clean. Stand in pans for 5 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm, cooled, or toasted with spread.
Super banana-y, and moister than I expected (although I think I ended up using more than a cup of mashed banana). I kept one and froze another, which I later took to a band picnic. A new acquaintance/friend liked it, and didn’t even mind that it was half frozen because the weather was so hot. 😂