Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fruit preparation

Fruit comes in four basic ways - fresh, dried, canned, and frozen. More often than not, we eat fruit as it comes or treat it like an ingredient. It's not a bad thing but it does start to limit our preparation. Because fruits are sweet they often become a dessert but they can become a rather nice addition to a side dish or even a main dish.
Fruit can easily be turned into a sauce to accent meat. In the past, I have cooked cherries or blackberries whole in a pot until they were tender (add a fine layer of water on the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking until the fruit releases it's own juice) then run through a food mill to create a sauce. Sometimes I add a thickener like cornstarch but I find it takes away from the flavor. I season with cinnamon or Indian spices. More often than not I serve fruit sauces with pork or chicken but they can easily be used on fish or beef. Lamb is another choice that often is paired with fruit but it's not affordable in my area.
Dried fruit is easily tossed into stir fries and vegetables. Dried cranberries are wonderful with cooked carrots.
As I sit here, I realize that cooking with fruit is difficult to talk about. Not because it's taboo but because the words are just not there. Fruit has more water than most vegetables so you don't steam them. I don't saute then as a rule and roasting is not something I think about.
Roasted apples are amazing but they seem like work - why? I don't know. I have poached pears once but I wanted this post to be about making fruit as something other than a dessert.
We've eaten a fair amount of fruit this week but we too, feel into that trap. I ate apples and blackberries with my oatmeal but grapes, oranges and more apples were just eaten fresh. We love fresh fruit but I wanted to learn to be creative with them. I love eating at ethnic restaurants and getting lamb roasted with plums or fruit stuffed pork. However, they are not dishes I make at home. Which makes this post more and more difficult.
I am at fault for turning fruit into dessert. But I want to visit the more savory side of fruit. I may just have to get back to you on that one. It gives me something to work towards.
Tomorrow I am going to talk about preservation techniques and pickling. Pickling fruit is one technique I did pick up this past year but I haven't found really good ways to use the fruit pickles aside from just eating them, which is really nice.

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