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13 Genius Ways to Use Up Fruit That's Going Bad

Look around your kitchen right now. Odds are you're seeing bananas getting too brown, apples getting too soft, and strawberries slowly shriveling, right? Well, suppress your instinct to throw away food that's just teetering on rotten.

Even if your fruit is starting to look unappetizing, it can still serve a purpose! Try using near-spoiled fruit in these 13 creative ways and rest assured that you, sir or madam, are an eco-hero. Congratulations.

Face Masks

We live in the day and age of the face masks; as one of the biggest beauty trends of the moment, there's a face mask for all your skin wishes and woes. But why spend the cash on these masks when you can make your own right in your kitchen? Raw fruit has more tricks up its sleeve than you might think.

For example, papayas have amazing exfoliating properties, avocados prevent signs of aging, tomatoes help skin glow, and oranges reduce acne. Who knew, right?

Those are just a few examples of what DIY fruit masks can do for you complexion, but these masks (especially the tomato/lemon mask) might be our favorites.

Polish Silverware/Shoes

Dingy silverware or scuffed shoes? There's a simple way to bring their shine back: a banana peel. It sounds weird, but we promise it works.

Peel a banana and take all those stringy bits off the inside of the peel. Then rub the inside of the peel on your dull shoes or silver. Buff with a cloth and you'll see a shine like no other, plus a pleasant banana smell as a fun bonus.

Make Smoothies

So your shoes look fly and your silverware is gleaming, but what are you going to do with that peeled banana? If it doesn't look good enough to eat right then and there, try throwing it into a smoothie for all the same flavor and nutrients, minus how gross it feels to eat an overripe banana.

Here's a great recipe to get you started:

If you don't have time to make that delicious smoothie rn, cut the banana in half, put it in a plastic bag, and freeze it. You can use it for tomorrow morning's smoothie instead!

Granitas

A granita is a frozen treat that's like a snow cone, only boozier. All you have to do is blend or juice your going-bad fruit, stir in a little alcohol to keep it from freezing completely, and pour the mixture into a shallow, wide container. Place the container into the freezer and use a fork to break up the icy areas every hour or so.

The end result should resemble a shaved iced treat perfect for parties or just cooling off on a hot day.

Fruit Jams

Making homemade jam might make you picture a Stepford Wife, but it's actually a simple and delicious way to put your rotting fruit to good use. One of our favorites? Apple jelly, which you'll want to spread on anything you can get your hands on. Better yet, these little jams make rad gifts for your friends and family.

And if you're not a fan of apples, then you have to check out Serious Eats' epic guide to fruit spreads.

Conditioning Hair Treatment

The only thing currently trendier than a face mask? A hair mask. Your complexion isn't the only thing that could use a fruity refreshing every now and again, your strands need TLC, too.

If dry, winter air is getting your hair down, then you need this moisturizing strawberry hair mask — it's especially perfect for anyone rocking their natural curls.

Garbage Disposal

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Nothing gets smellier faster than your garbage disposal. But thankfully, any and all citruses you might be looking to toss are your DIY solution!

Down your stinky sink, pour a half cup of baking soda, some vinegar, and then half of a lime, lemon, or orange. The baking soda and vinegar will react with one another and clean the disposal, while the citrus will leave behind an amazing, clean smell. If you'd rather eat that citrus, feel free to use peels to get the job done.

Breads and Muffins

What better excuse to bake than your ingredients starting to go bad? Adding chopped fruit to a baked good is a brilliant way to use up your produce and upgrade your breads or muffins.

Worried that the poor quality of your fruit will undermine the dish? Try giving the fruit a quick grilling first, which is a great way to give the fruit (and, by association, your baked goods) a deeper flavor.

Crumbles, Crisps, and Cobblers

It doesn't get better than sugar-coated fruit surrounded by brown sugar crumbles or doughy pie crust. You can use pretty much any fruit imaginable to create an impromptu cobbler, crisp, or crumble, and it's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Make Potpourri

This might sound like something only your grandma makes, but don't hate until you've tried it. Potpourri (like homemade jam) makes for lovely presents and if you want to keep it for yourself, you'll be surprised how well this mixture can make your home smell heavenly.

Adding lemon rind to potpourri is the perfect way to perk up any room. Take a handful of spices (such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, or nutmeg) and dried natural materials (such as seasonal flowers or pinecones). Then arrange them in a bowl along with the lemon rind. If you want even more of a boost, sprinkle with scented oils like orange or lemon.

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Fruit-Flavored Booze

The perfect way to use fruit before a backyard party or BBQ? Soaking it in alcohol, obvi.

You can steep frozen or fresh fruits in liqueurs like brandy, vodka, or rum and get double the delicious; your alcohol will develop an irresistible fruit flavor and snacking on that fruit at the end of your drink? Let's just say it will be the most fun you ever have eating a peach slice.

Homemade Ice Cream

Yep, you can make super-creamy ice cream with avocados that aren't quite at their peak anymore. The fruit is sodium and cholesterol-free, low in calories, and loaded with vitamins and minerals, so it's as good for you as it is freakin' delicious. This avocado pistachio ice cream recipe is perfect for after-dinner indulgence.

With all those benefits and amazing flavor, it's more like nice cream, amiright?

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Don't have much of a sweet tooth? Rest assured, you can use those browning avocados to make a savory dish that's just as creamy and delicious.

Try puréeing ripe avocados with garlic and lemon juice, then tossing with hot pasta. Game changer, right? You can also add chopped tomatoes and a little cheese for extra flavor. You'll never buy canned tomato sauce again.

Do you use your rotting fruit in a different clever way? Share your brilliance with us in the comments section below.