pink fruit drink with mint

Catch-all Solutions

If you’re wondering what to do with the rest of your leftover or overripe produce, we’ve got you covered. These handy catch-all cocktail recipes will help you easily make use of your surplus produce stash, as well as any scraps you may have after preparing other recipes. Give one a try today, and prove to your guests that reducing waste can be fun (and tasty, too!).

Classic Sangria

Sangria is a splendid catch-all solution for leftover and overripe produce since you can pretty much use whatever kind of fruit you have on hand. Whip up a batch in a pitcher for your next get-together, and quench the thirsty masses with minimal effort and practically zero waste.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 bottle of dry red wine
  • 5 oz light rum
  • 3 cups fresh fruit
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Mix it up:

  1. Fill the bottom of a large glass pitcher with fresh fruit. Feel free to get creative and use whatever fruit you have hanging around in the fridge.
  2. Add wine, rum, sugar, and orange juice. Stir with a wooden spoon. Allow the pitcher to sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to develop the flavors.
  3. Take your sangria out of the refrigerator and taste it. If it isn’t as fruity as you’d like, give it a stir and put it back in the fridge for another hour. You can also use a muddler (or the handle of a wooden spoon) to gently crush the fruit at the bottom of the pitcher to help flavors develop a bit faster.
  4. Once your sangria is to your liking, give it a good stir with a wooden spoon, and it’s ready to serve. Traditionally, sangria is not served with ice, but feel free to add some if it suits your tastes better.

Infused Liquors

Infusing your own liquor is a surefire way to make use of everything in your fridge’s crisper bin. Experimenting with infused liquors also allows you to stretch your creative legs as a budding mixologist, as you can literally use any combination of fruits, vegetables, and herbs to get the flavor you crave.

This method works great for food scraps, such as celery and pepper tops, herb stems, and citrus scraps, too. So, the next time you’re about to toss some produce in the compost bin, try an infusion instead. Who knows? You may even discover your new favorite cocktail ingredient.

What you’ll need:

  • A 750-ml bottle of good-quality liquor (vodka usually works best, but feel free to play around depending on your tastes and the produce you’re using)
  • A large glass container or jar with a lid
  • Any fruit, vegetable, or herb

Mix it up:

  1. Start by roughly chopping your chosen fruit or vegetable. The amount you use will determine how strong the flavor infusion is. For more pungent ingredients, such as hot peppers, as little as 1/4 cup should work just fine. For milder ingredients, such as herbs, celery, cucumber, or fruit, you’ll want to use about a cup.
  2. Add the fruit and liquor to the glass container of your choice, and seal the lid tightly. Wash and dry the original liquor bottle and set aside. You’ll pour the infusion back into it later.
  3. Allow your infusion to sit at room temperature. Infusion times vary based on ingredients. Stronger ingredients, like citrus fruit and hot peppers, should impart their deliciousness in as little as two days. Milder picks, like herbs and most non-citrus fruits, can take up to two weeks.
  4. Keep an eye on your infusion, and shake it gently once or twice each day. When you think your infusion is done, give it a quick taste. If the flavors aren’t as developed as you hoped, allow the mixture to steep for a few more days.
  5. Strain your infusion back into the original liquor bottle using a funnel and a mesh strainer (you may need a helping hand with this!). Seal the bottle tightly, and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks for use in your favorite cocktail recipes.

Rum Punch

Like Sangria, Rum Punch is a great cocktail for a crowd, as it’s easy to mix up in large quantities and pour from a pitcher – meaning no more endless trips to the kitchen to refresh your guests’ empty cups. As an added bonus, this recipe is ideal for repurposing all that leftover and overripe fruit in your fridge. You can pretty much use any type of fruit for this, so get creative!

What you’ll need:

  • 3 oz light rum
  • 3 oz spiced rum
  • 3 oz dark rum
  • 2 cups fresh fruit, roughly chopped
  • 3 oz cranberry juice
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 3 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz grenadine

Mix it up:

  1. Fill a large glass pitcher with chopped fruit. Any type of fruit will work for this, so feel free to use whatever you have in the fridge that you fear will spoil before it’s eaten. Try apples, berries, citrus fruit, melon, pineapple, or whatever strikes your fancy.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the pitcher, and stir with a wooden spoon. Allow the pitcher to sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to fully develop.
  3. Take your cocktail out of the fridge and give it a taste. If it’s not as fruity as you’d like, you can try putting the pitcher back in the refrigerator for another hour, or gently muddle the fruit to help flavors develop more quickly. Simply use a muddler (or the handle of a wooden spoon) to gently crush up the fruit at the bottom of the pitcher before placing it back in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  4. When the fruity flavor has matured, add a few scoops of ice to your pitcher, and bring it out onto the patio for a perfect springtime refreshment. For extra fizz, top with ginger ale or club soda.

Helpful hint: This is a truly catch-all cocktail, and the recipe can be easily modified to suit your tastes. In fact, we encourage it! Experiment with different kinds of fresh fruit and fruit juice, such as passion fruit, berry, or pomegranate juice, until you find the mix that suits you best. The possibilities are endless!

Feature image courtesy of StockSnap on Pixabay

Editor’s note: Originally published on March 22, 2013, this article was updated in March 2021.

By Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.