Reader Cel F recently sent me this email:
I’ve heard you say frequently that you are able to use fruits and veggies that might otherwise be wasted in smoothies. I’ve found that when I try to throw together smoothies this way I don’t like what I’ve made! Could you maybe give your readers some smoothie basics/tips?
This is a great question! While smoothies are a fabulous way to use up odds and ends, Cel is right…it is possible to do this in a decidedly not-tasty way.
I don’t ever measure anything when I make smoothies, but I do have something of a pattern I follow, which ensures relatively consistent results.
It’s not generally a great idea to go through your fridge and just randomly throw odds and ends into your blender. You might occasionally hit on a winning combo, but you’ll have more duds than not.
The key, I’ve found, is to use a relatively small portion of odds and ends in addition to your usual smoothie ingredients.
For instance, I froze some mini oranges a while back that were a little bit dry and sour. Because of this, a smoothie comprised largely of these oranges would have been pretty sour.
So instead of throwing a bunch of them into a single smoothie, I’ve been adding 2-3 halves to each smoothie I make. This way I can use them up without majorly affecting the flavor of my smoothie.
My general smoothie-making pattern is to first blend a banana, some vanilla yogurt (homemade, recipe here), and whatever greens* I’m using, plus a little bit of OJ concentrate.
*I use spinach, kale, collard greens, or chard, depending on what I have in the fridge. Spinach is the mildest by far.
I blend that all up on high speed so that the greens are utterly liquefied. Then I add in a somewhat small quantity of random fruit, plus a larger quantity of purchased frozen fruit, like strawberries or blueberries and blend it all up.
If I had to guess on measurements, I’d say there’s one banana, two cups of yogurt, 2 teaspoons of OJ concentrate, a cup of greens, a cup of random fruit, and then a cup and a half of purchased fruit.
So basically, make sure you’ve got a good amount of prime quality frozen fruit in your smoothie, and that will help to hide any less-than-stellar odds and ends you’re using up. I’d recommend at least a 2 to 1 ratio.
Oh, and this is why I’m a big fan of freezing odds and ends. If your random produce is hanging out in your fridge, you have to hurry to use it up. But once it’s frozen, you can just keep it in zippered bags and use it at your leisure.
And this might be a good time to explain how I freeze produce for smoothies.
Instead of dumping it all into a bag and freezing it (hello, huge hard lump of fruit!), I spread it out on a baking sheet (spray it with cooking spray or line it with a silicone mat) and freeze it.
Once the fruit is hard, it’s easy to pour it into a zippered bag for future smoothie use.
One other random note: if I’m adding in a vegetable that has a pretty powerful flavor (beets, kale), I’ve found that the citrusy, acidic flavors of frozen pineapple and orange juice concentrate really help to make a more palatable smoothie.
I hope this helps to de-mystify the process of using random produce in smoothie making. But if you’ve still got questions, let me know in the comments, and I’ll be glad to answer.
And readers, feel free to add your smoothie-making wisdom in the comments!