Cooking Tip Thursdays is dedicated to making time in the kitchen quicker, easier, and just plain better…
What defines summer more than the taste of food right off the grill? Well that and the sun hitting your face, a backyard barbecue with friends and family, the smell of suntan lotion at the beach, and an ice-cold beer. But back to grilled foods – which have become synonymous with meat and vegetables. While I never met a piece of barbecued chicken or grilled squash I didn’t like, it’s somewhat predictable. If you’re looking to add a new trick, tip, or tool to your culinary repertoire, try grilling your fruit. Grilled fruit is one of the easiest and most mouth-watering ways to enjoy the essence of summer. If you have tasted grilled fruit then you already know how delicious it can be on its own, served in a salad, with an entrée, and of course, as a dessert. Try grilling half an apricot and drizzling it with honey and chopped pistachios. Or grilled mangos chopped into a black bean salsa or guacamole. And I can’t think of anything more heavenly than a fresh fig right off the grill topped with a smidgen of blue cheese.
What makes grilled fruit so delicious: Grilling caramelizes the natural sugar in fruit, which helps bring out wonderful flavors and intensifies the sweetness.
Which fruits work best on the grill: Some fruits hold up better to the grilling process than others due to their texture or simply their size. As a general rule, berries do not work well right on the grill grates, while many other fruits such as pears, peaches, apples, figs, pineapple, bananas, plums, papayas, nectarines, apricots, and mangos are perfect for the grill.
Tips For Preparation:
- Always begin with a clean, freshly oiled grill grate when grilling fruit. This keeps the fruit from sticking to the grill. I also like to give the fruit a quick coating of oil as well.
- Select fruit that is ripe, but still firm enough to hold its shape when exposed to the searing heat of the grill.
- Grill with the skin on. The skin traps heat and this helps to keep the fruit moist and juicy while grilling.
- When grilling fruit, keep the heat to a minimum. You’re not “cooking” the fruit, only heating and smoking it.
- Most fruits are best grilled over indirect heat, either when the coals are dying out or when hot coals are pushed to the opposite side of the grill.
- Soft, succulent fruits, like figs, peaches, plums, and pineapple, are better suited to direct grilling over high heat. Cut them in half to maximize the surface area exposed to the smoke and fire.
- If the fruit is small (strawberries, figs, cherries), thread it onto skewers. If you use wooden skewers soak them in water for about 20 minutes so they don’t burn when placed on the grill.
- For grilled fruit desserts, brush cut fruit with honey, unsweetened coconut milk, fruit juice, maple syrup, molasses, wine, or port prior to grilling.