If your life is busy and you lack the time to be in the kitchen preparing food all the time, one of the best ways to do it is to prepare lots of food at one time so that you can just grab and go. The same goes for even something as easy as making a smoothie in the morning. Preparing fruit for smoothies is best done by preparing the fruit you will need for several days (or weeks) ahead of time. Doing this will make for health fast food when it comes time to prepare your meals or smoothies. Preparing fruit for smoothies starts with fresh succulent ripe fruit. Unless you have a really great connection for good fruit, succulent fruit is not easy to find.
Most stores, especially the larger chain stores have fruit on their shelves that is typically picked a month before it should have been picked, then gassed with nitrogen to give it some color, then waxed to keep it from rotting before it ends up on store shelves where its color is then enhanced with lighting and backdrops to make you think you are walking through the Garden of Eden. The best possible place to get your fruits are from the trees in your back yard. If that aint happening, then through an organic cooperative where you know that you are getting something that does not wreak of pesticides and artificial enhancers to make it look pretty.
The next best thing to having either your own Garden of Eden or an organic cooperative that can hook you up with some great fruit deals is to scope out the local markets (not the big boys) and look for the mark downs on their ‘ripe’ fruit that for some reason, people do not like to buy if it looks too squooshie (squooshie = ripe succulent and ready to eat in my dictionary). I am a thrift shopper so I buy ‘ripe’ fruit from my local markets that has been marked down because it does not look pretty enough to sell. It’s typically 50% off the normal sale price which translates in my langauge to ‘time to buy a bunch of it.” Typically, you can get local stores to really cut you a deal if you are a regular and buy a lot from them often.
HEALTH TIP: If you can’t ripe fruit and have to buy un-ripened fruit, let it ripen before you eat it. Your body can process it much better, and it is much better for your overall health, .i.e. more nutrition and easier to digest.
Once you have fruit that is ripe and ready to eat, and you have a lot of it (more than you can possibly eat before it goes bad) take ten or 15 minutes to prepare all of your ripe fruit and freeze it in cup-sized portions. I use freezer bags. My little preparation and storage secret is that I only put enough in a freezer bag that will allow the bag to lay flat in the freezer. That way, when I want to take some out and use it, it is much easier to cut or break apart if it is not in a large ball in your freezer and frozen as solid as a rock. This is a great way to go especially for preparing fruit smoothies.
I use a lot of bananas in my diet – especially in my smoothies – so I do buy LOTS of bananas in bulk. One of the very best ways to store them for smoothies is to freeze them for future use once they ripen. You can freeze them whole and when you need one, just stick it in some hot water for a few minutes or so, then cut an end off and squeeze the fruit out of the skin. This is really easy to do. I typically freeze 10 to 15 pound of them at a time which I go through easily in a week’s time or less. Some people prefer to peel and cut their bananas up, then freeze them. If this is your preference, you can put a bunch in a non-toxic freezer safe container, breaking up the bananas into thirds, separating the layers with wax paper so it’s easy to separate them when you need a hand full for your smoothie.
If you don’t do smoothies everyday like I do, you can still benefit from frozen bananas. They are great for a lot of things besides just throwing them into your smoothies in place of ice cubes. One of my favorite snacks is to make coconut banana ice cream. Well, there really isn’t it cream in it, but it just sounds better than when you say coconut banana sorbet, right? Kids love this. You can mix in other kinds of fruit as well like blueberries (no white shirts on children suggested), peaches, mango or papaya.
Most all fruits can be washed, dried, and then frozen for future use if you find a deal. A few weeks ago, I found mangos for $.33 each and stocked up on this. It’s one of my favorites. I was literally raking the mangos off of the shelves into my cart at that price – typically $1.50 each in stores. When I got home with them (way too many to eat in one sitting for even me), I of course ate two of them before I had unpacked the groceries, but I took all of the ripe mangos and immediately pealed, sliced, and froze them in freezer bags – two mangos to a bag laid flat in freezer (easier to break apart this way). I love to reach in, take out a bag, cut off a strip of frozen mango and snack on it when I get that mango kind of feeling.
Tip on freezing fruit: If you pick them fresh and want to wash them, be certain you spread them out on a towel and let them dry thoroughly before you put them in the freezer. If you let your fruilt be thoroughly dry befor you freeze it, it will taste much better and will not be as ‘soggy’ or ‘mushy’. I slice my mango into long thick slices. It’s more fun to eat that way. ;-)