Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fruits 101

In the past two years, I've learned quite a bit about working with different fruits. For example, putting diced strawberries in overnight oatmeal? Not a great idea (it tastes sour in the morning). Mashed banana in baked oatmeal = good. Sliced banana in baked oatmeal = only good if you're eating it immediately. And so on.

Because many of my readers are new to the idea of adding fresh fruit to their oatmeal, I thought it might be helpful to share some of my experiences as a reference guide. Since I'm type-A, I put the fruits in alphabetical order and gave hints about stove-top, baked, and overnight oatmeal. You're welcome.

If you disagree with any of my recommendations, please comment below!

On the stove: I've already written extensively on this, but basically, cut it up as small as possible and let it cook for ten minutes or longer. If that means stewing the apples before adding to the oatmeal, do it. It's worth it. [See: Apple & Veggie Sausage Oatmeal]
Baked: Cut into small chunks...seriously, as small as your patience allows you. [See: Apple Nut Butter Baked Oatmeal]
Overnight: Use stewed apples or applesauce only. Raw diced apples will brown and lose their freshness. [See: Applesauce Overnight Oatmeal]

On the stove: You can pretty much do whatever you want here. I will always prefer mashed bananas, which is why you rarely see me slice it. [See: Banana Bread Oatmeal]
Baked: Only use sliced bananas if you are serving it immediately. They will look kind of ugly when it comes out of the oven, and even uglier as it sits in the fridge and is reheated later. Once again, I prefer it mashed. It improves texture and endurance. [See: Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal]
Overnight: Mashed, all the way. If you want slices, add them in in the morning, just before serving. [See: Chocolate Banana Overnight Oatmeal]

Berries (Raspberry, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
On the stove: If you're using fresh berries, wait until the end to add them, otherwise they turn to a sad mush. :( For a change of pace, I like to puree strawberries sometimes; they take on a different flavor. [See: Triple Berry & Banana Oatmeal]
Baked: Mix up all the batter first, and then gently stir in the berries at the end. Once again, pureeing them adds a nice touch sometimes. [See: Neapolitan Baked Oatmeal]
Overnight: Blueberries and raspberries work pretty well here. Don't dice up strawberries and let them sit overnight; they become sour. Instead, puree them into the liquid first, or add them in the morning. [See: Strawberry Limeade Oatmeal]

Cherries & Grapes
On the stove: Cut in half and add at the end (stir them in just before serving or use them as a topping). [See: Peach Cherry Almond Oatmeal]
Baked: Mix up all the batter first, and then gently stir in the cherries or grapes at the end. Because of their large size, cutting them in half is preferred. [See: Peanut Butter & Grape Baked Oatmeal]
Overnight: Pureed cherries work best in overnight oatmeal, but I believe you could use fresh and it would be fine. Grapes work fine, halved or whole. [See: Black Forest Cake Overnight Oatmeal]

On the stove: Add them early in the cooking process so they can soften (in regards to both texture and flavor). Use a lid. They pop and oatmeal splatters everywhere--trust me. [See: Carrot Cranberry Oatmeal]
Baked: Mix up all the batter first, and then gently stir in the cranberries at the end. [See: Cranberry Brownie Baked Oatmeal]
Overnight: I would advise against using fresh cranberries because most people find them unappetizing raw. I would use dried cranberries or a cranberry sauce. [I've never tried this.]

On the stove: Cut in quarters (or smaller) and add at the end (stir them in just before serving or use them as a topping). [See: Coconut, Honey, & Fig Oatmeal]
Baked: [I've never tried this.]
Overnight: [I've never tried this.]

On the stove: Cut in half. Use a paring knife to loosen up each segment and then prop out with a spoon. Stir in half of the segments during the cooking process. Add the rest at the end (stir them in just before serving or use them as a topping). [See: Grapefruit Blueberry Oatmeal]
Baked: [I've never tried this.]
Overnight: Same as stove-top. [See: Grapefruit Overnight Oatmeal]

On the stove: I like to use this best as a topping. When I want it to be the star, I will use two, and I'll mash up one into the oatmeal and dice the other as a topping. [See: Strawberry Kiwi Oatmeal]
Baked: I've never used this, but if I did, I would mash/puree it.
Overnight: Same as baked.

Lemon & Lime
For all types: Extract juices and add to the oatmeal at any point in the cooking process.

On the stove: Either dice into small pieces or puree. Add at any point in the cooking process. [Mango Raspberry Oatmeal]
Baked: Reduce the amount of liquid you would usually use because mangoes are quite wet. Dice or puree. [See: Strawberry Mango Baked Oatmeal]
Overnight: Dice or puree. [I've never done this.]

On the stove: Melon is best used as a topping for oatmeal. Cooking melon gives it a rather strange flavor and texture. [See: Fruit Salad Oatmeal]
Baked: [I've never done this.]
Overnight: I recommend pureeing the melon first, but I haven't tried it another way. [See: Honeydew Overnight Oatmeal]

On the stove: Cut in half. Use a paring knife to loosen up each segment and then prop out with a spoon. Stir in half of the segments during the cooking process. Add the rest at the end (stir them in just before serving or use them as a topping). [See: Orange Sweet Potato Oatmeal]
Baked: [I've never tried this.]
Overnight: Same as stovetop. [See: Orange Dreamsicle Overnight Oatmeal]

On the stove: Peaches work well sliced, diced, or pureed. Add them at any point in the cooking process. You do not need to peel. [See: Peach & Almond Butter Oatmeal]
Baked: Same as stovetop. [See: Peach Cobbler Baked Oatmeal]
Overnight: Same as stovetop. [See: Peach & Blueberry Overnight Oatmeal]

Pears & Plums
On the stove: Similar to apples, give them as long of a cooking time as possible. If necessary, stew them (diced) before adding to oatmeal. [See: Pear Sauce Oatmeal]
Baked: Puree or dice. You could also go half and half: mash or puree half the fruit for complete distribution of flavor and dice the rest for variation in texture. [See: Pear & Almond Baked Oatmeal]
Overnight: Dice into as small of cubes as possible. [See: Spiced Plum Overnight Oatmeal]

On the stove: I add my pineapple right after I add my oats. This is mainly because I always use frozen pineapple, but I do the same with fresh pineapple. If using fresh pineapple, save some for a topping! [See: Pineapple Sunbutter Oatmeal]
Baked: I would use small pineapple cubes/tidbits. You could also try using crushed pineapple, but then you would want to reduce the amount of liquid. [I've never done this.]
Overnight: You can use fresh or frozen pineapple in small cubes/tidbits. No special instructions. [I've done this, but I've never posted about it.]

On the stove: Save as a topping or stir in right at the end. You want to minimize the cooking time as much as possible because they are best when fresh and cold. I usually stir in half and put the rest as a topping. [See: Apple Pomegranate Oatmeal]
Baked: [I've never done this and am not sure if it's possible!]
Overnight: Save as a topping. Pomegranates take on a weird flavor when they're mixed with other ingredients and sitting in the fridge. [I've never posted on this.]

On the stove: Dice into small half-inch chunks. Cook down the rhubarb (I just simmer mine in water and a drop of maple syrup) before adding to oatmeal. If you don't like tart flavors, add a touch of sweetener (either sugar or a liquid sweetener) when you simmer the rhubarb. [See: Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal]
Baked: I would follow the same procedure as the stovetop instructions. Then I would make the batter for the baked oatmeal and stir in the rhubarb last before putting it in the oven. [I've never done this.]
Overnight: [I've never done this.]

**You can also find hundreds of other oatmeal recipes (as well as tons of other meatless recipes) on my Pinterest account!  You can also like The Oatmeal Artist on Facebook. Thanks!


  1. For apples, I've had great success (for baked oatmeal) using my box grater to coarsely grate half an apple... a medium-sized apple gives you pretty much half a cup, and it was faster than dicing. I got the idea to try grated apple after making one of the zucchini bread baked oatmeals. Throw in some cranberries with the apple... Yum!

    1. This also works great for stove top! I love adding dried cranberries right from the start, so they swell during cooking and then just grate an apple directly into the pan. Add a bit of almond extract, and you end up with a bowl of perfection!

  2. THIS is really what I need!!! Thank you soooooo much! I've always hesitating putting fruits in overnight oatmeal as some fruits would turn sour like strawberry and ugly like apple. I just had pineapple oatmeal and it tasted really good (I did save some for topping too!) I tried both on stove and overnight oatmeal with kiwi and I wouldn't recommend them. Both gave me a super sour oatmeal and those were the only time I threw away my oatmeal :( but kiwi is perfect as topping though.

  3. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us! With the mention of grapefruits, I think I'll have the grapefruit and chocolate oatmeal again - that was the first of your recipes I ever tried and I love it!


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