Thursday, July 3, 2008

Grilling Fruit

If you've gotten away from your Pilates lately, I have a 4th of July treat for you. While everyone else is gorging themselves on pies, cakes and ice cream treats, we'll enjoy grilled fruit. Fruit is perfect for grilling because it's so easy and it is made up of water and sugar. By grilling it you can concentrate the flavors by reducing the water and caramelizing the natural sugars. All you need sliced fruit, water, and cooking oil to make the most basic grilled fruit. What you will get is a quick and easy addition to any meal whether it is as an appetizer, side dish, or dessert.

Hard fruits like apples, pears, and pineapples are the easiest to prepare since they hold their shape and texture while cooking.

Softer fruits like peaches, nectarines, plums and mangos will become soft and mushy if overcooked. You will need to be more attentive of these kinds of fruit. Either way, pick a fresh firm fruit that is just short of being perfectly ripe. You will want a fruit that is solid enough to hold together and maintain its texture on the grill. With many fruits you can simply cut them in half.

Split bananas lengthwise and cut apples, pears and similar fruits down the middle and remove the seeds and core. Typically, with most fruits you can leave the peels on. This helps hold them together whether you eat the skin or not. Large fruits and citrus should be cut into slices to expose the flesh to the flame.

Once you have cut the fruit, soak it in water to maximize the amount of liquid inside the fruit so it stays juicy on the grill. Use enough cold water to completely cover the fruit and add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to each cup of water to preserve its color. Let fruits soak in the lemon water for 20 to 30 minutes. If you need to, add ice to keep the water cold. It is best to grill fruit over medium heat on a very clean cooking grate. Nothing will ruin the flavor of fruit like left over drippings from the last batch of hamburgers you made. So, make sure to clean the grate before using.

To keep the fruit from sticking to the grill, lightly spray them with cooking oil or brush them with melted butter. Many oils, like olive oil have too strong of a flavor for fruit, so pick something that will compliment but not overpower it. This basic process will give you flavorful grilled fruit that will be perfect for any course.

To step up the flavor of the fruit, try adding spices to the water the fruit soaks in and increasing the soaking time. Simply throwing a stick of cinnamon into a bowl of soaking apples will enhance its flavor. You can also add spices like nutmeg, allspice, cloves, or ginger to the melted butter used to brush the fruit with. Since fruit is naturally high in sugar you won’t typically need to add any. If you do want it sweeter you can dust the fruit with brown sugar, but be careful because sugars burn quickly and easily.

Now to really add something to grilled fruit. Try marinating them in a combination of your favorite spices and your favorite alcohols. A mixture of rum, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg will make a truly fantastic set of pineapple slices perfect for topping with vanilla ice cream. Be careful when they hit the grill though, because the rum will cause a spectacular and immediate flare-up, something that is sure to impress the guests.

Grilled fruits have such a delicious flavor that you can add them to virtually any dish. Try grilling apple slices for your next apple pie. Or grill plums, puree them, and combine with tomato sauce and jalapenos for a fruit-based barbecue sauce. Let your imagination run wild and you’ll find what a great addition grilled fruits can be.

Grilled Pineapple: This tropical fruit is delicious sliced and grilled until lightly caramelized. Select a ripe pineapple, slightly soft to the touch and with a fragrant smell. Cut off the top, slice off the tough skin, core and slice into 1-inch rounds. Grill until warm and browned. Serve along alongside grilled chicken or pork, or as a dessert.

Have a fantastic 4th of July!!!!


Leah said...

I always read about grilling fruit in the summer issues of my favorite magazines, but I've never tried it myself. I love all of your suggestions! Might have to try one of them out on my company this weekend. ;-)

Lori said...

What a great idea and very healthy too! I did have grilled peaches once and they were amazing. It really brought out the sweetness of the fruit. Enjoy your holiday!

Lanny said...

I love grilled pineapple! My favorite "easy" summer meal is to grill some chicken with teriyaki, toss some pineapple on at the end and stack them on a bun. No condiments needed. Easy and yummy.

I can't wait to try some other fruits. We are such a fruit family; grilling will add some variety.

:) Thanks for such great ideas!

Lanny said...

Happy 4th! I hope you have a great day!

Steph said...

That is such a great idea! I have no problem eating fruit, but hopefully this is steer me away from other desserts.. who am I kidding?!? Grilling fruit still sounds delicious though

April said...

I have never grilled fruit, I have always wanted to, though. I now may really have to try it!