If you're bored with the traditional summer offerings of hotdogs, potato salad, and corn, then clearly it's past time to try grilled fruit in your diet. High heat caramelizes the sugars in the fruit - it's everyone's favourite chemical reaction, the Maillard, and the grill can impart a complex smoky and uber-sweet flavour that will make you say wow!
Grilling fruit isn't nearly as difficult as one might suppose, although there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind for best results!
Here are 10 things to help you make grilled fruit your favourite summer treat too!
1 - For parties, grill fruit the colors of rainbow. For the best dazzle, mix it up with an array of colours and flavour, and serve it as a warm fruit salad.
2 - Use soaked bamboo skewers to keep little pieces of fruit in line or easier to grab with tongs and flip. You can also make grilled fruit kabobs for appetizers.
3 - Always use oil. A light coating of oil will keep the fruit from making a sticky mess. You can use a flavourless oil like light olive or canola, but a touch of EVOO can actually add an extra dimension to the smoky caramelized sweetness of fruit. Feel free to experiment.
4 - Stick to the firm stuff. You don't want a mushy overripe peach; you want a barely-ripe one that will be able to take a little rough handling between flame and tongs.
5 - Don't peel or hull. Better nutrition; less likely to kerplode and make a huge mess. Obviously there will be a few exceptions. *cough, pineapple*
6 - Experiment with thickness. The thicker the fruit, the less likely the inside will be affected as much as the outside, making for an interesting tastebud experience! Try thick-cut pineapple and watermelon wedges, and treat them like pieces of steak as you experiment with added flavourings.
7 - Watch the sugar. If you want to sweeten fruit with maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar, add it towards the end of cooking to keep it from burning.
8 - Play with liquors. Alcohol and fruit together aren't just for sangrias! Soak fruit in liqueurs.
9 - Short and sweet (and possibly indirect). Unless very thickly cut, most fruit only needs 2-3 minutes per side. Most places recommend that you use indirect heat to grill fruit, however I have no problems with direct heat on my grill.
10 - Pair it. Don't just grill your peaches and dump them on a plate; serve them with grilled pork tenderloin. Grill your bananas before offering to make people banana splits instead of handing them a lump of ice cream. Serve your grilled watermelon with feta. Toss a whole mess of grilled fruit with salad greens and serve with white wine. Possibilities are endless.
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