The Beginner’s Guide To Cooking With Fruit

A magical article about the many ways to be successful in cooking with fruit. If you’re looking to be creative and develop your own recipes these tips might help.

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Let’s get technical, technical! Over the past month or so we’ve talked about developing recipes, herbs, spices, cooking the perfect pasta, epic meringues and… the world’s best banana bread. That got us thinking about cooking with fruit. We should do it more. You should do it more too. And here’s how:

1. Match the flavours of the fruit carefully.

You can use fruit to beautifully balance out flavours in dishes. Think about the end goal you’re trying to achieve. Do you want it to be super sweet? If so pair with the sweetest fruits- like strawberries and grapes. If you decide that you want to tone down the sweetness, add fruits that are sharper- like blackberries.

2. Be aware what cooking processes do to each fruit.

Stewing, grilling, baking and poaching can do all sorts to different fruits. Fruits that are ideal for baking and stewing are usually the ones that work well in crumbles. Take apples as an example- lovely stewed and baked but perhaps a little harder and more uninspiring when grilled. Experiment in your kitchen.

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3. Go for a nice mix.

Fruit often complements other fruit. If you’re making a dish, choose your focal fruit and add small quantities of others to bring out the flavour. Even if it’s a cherry pie, chuck a handful of blueberries for an intense mix. A squirt of lemon here and there will also help brighten the flavour of any fruit dish you’re making.

4. Chop your fruit evenly.

Each bite of food needs to have the same texture. You don’t want one mouthful to be cooked to perfection and the other undercooked. When chopping and mashing fruit try to be disciplined to avoid problems like these cropping up.

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5. When baking look for naturally high pectin fruits.

If you’re baking with fruit or looking to make jams and chutneys try to choose fruit that is naturally high with pectin and is under ripe or just ripe. Pectin is what makes fruit thicken and set nicely when it’s cooked with sugar.

Fruits low in pectin will need an added thickener so to keep it basic to start with. Fruits like apples, plums, blackberries and gooseberries are ideal. You may need to follow recipes with other fruits to know what thickening agents to use.

So now you’ve got those hacks up your sleeve, here’s some recipes to get you started.

For Baking: Apple and Berry Charlotte Puddings

For A Hot Dessert: Spiced Poached Pear

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For A Cold Dessert: Peach Fool In A Mug

For Candy: Homemade Fruit Gums

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For Savoury Cooking: Classic Moroccon Tagine

For Salads: Grilled Peach Salad

Have you got any extra tips for any beginners out there starting out for the first time? Let us know in the comments on Facebook and Twitter. What’s your favourite fruity recipe?

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