What to Do with Overripe Summer Fruit? Make a Delicious Crisp!

The crisp with chopped fruit, before oat topping

If you’re like me, and have a crazy-busy life, sometimes you come home after three days of running around, and realize that all that delicious fresh fruit you bought at the farmer’s market is….turning (into compost, slowly, on the counter).

I find this incredibly upsetting. It makes me sad to think about those farmers in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut who went to all that trouble to grow my food, bring it all the way to my town, and then it ends up as compost! Having been raised by my grandma, a born-and-bred Manhattanite who lived through the Depression, I have have not only the guilt about tossing food (that’s the NYC part!), but also the skills to figure out what to do with it! Doris Ross, my grams, always did something with old stuff, even if it became dog “porridge”.

So I stared at the overripe strawberries (just starting to develop a fuzzy layer of mold), the drying-out blueberries (and some ancient frozen ones), the mushy nectarines, and thought about blending them, but was a bit worried about the mold. There was just a bit, and I knew it wouldn’t kill me, but it could be dangerous (I’m not a mold expert) AND even a little mold has a strong flavor. I would have to cook it to kill the mold. OK, baking then. And then all of a sudden I saw it, in my mind’s eye: a perfect, healthy fruit tart to eat for breakfast!

I got to chopping, removing any seriously rotty bits and washing off all the mold. I just threw it all in a glass pie dish (see directions below) and voila! It was extra-sweet since the fruits were overripe so I needed to add only a small bit of sweetener. SO GOOD!

Starre’s Superripe Summer Fruit Crisp

-Enough fruit to come up to edge of baking dish (I used about 3 cups of strawberries, blueberries, figs and nectarines to fill a standard pie dish; I bet old grapes, peaches, pears, apples or any fruit other than melon would work well)
-2 cups oatmeal (I actually used the rest of my Dorset Cereal’s organic meusli)
-handful of organic sultanas (better than raisins as they are quick-dried and retain more flavor)
-handful organic pumpkin seeds (any nut or seed would work, almonds or walnuts, etc.)
-tablespoon of organic flax seeds (for easy Omega-3’s)
-1/3 stick organic butter (I like Kate’s from Maine, which wins butter-yumminess contests all the time)
-2 tablespoons organic light brown sugar
-1 tablespoon agave
-cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
-1/2 teaspoon organic lemon zest

Chop fruit into bite-size chunks (as if you were making a fruit salad) and place in baking dish, mixing with lemon zest and then sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg to your liking. I like a bit more cinnamon than nutmeg, but quite a bit of both.

-Top fruit mixture with 1 tablespoon light brown sugar and agave nectar. Fresh ginger would also be a good addition here, but I was out.

In a bowl, mix oats, 1/3 of a stick of butter (melted or at least smooshy), flax seeds, sultanas and pumpkin seeds.

When well blended, spoon on top of fruit and flatten out, covering the fruit with a layer of oat mixture.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 35-40 minutes (prepare for your house to smell amazing!!)

Oh, the beauty! And it was really, really delicious, which is why I’m compelled to share it with you!

Serving suggestion: Sheep’s milk yogurt tastes GREAT with this crisp scooped on top of it. I like Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s, which is made in upstate New York and available at Whole Foods in Westport, Connecticut near where I live.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.