A fruit platter is a great addition to any meal whether you are hosting or are the guest at an event or gathering. You can never go wrong with a fruit platter, it is nutritious, eye catching and if made by yourself and freshly presented will certainly gain you the accolades of your guests. Creativity, a sense of when the fruits are at their best and a bit of know how of the different fruits is all that is needed in order to create a great looking fruit platter.
When choosing your fruits, try to visualize the end product and choose different color fruits that will make a nice and colorful fruit platter.
Choosing the Right Fruits
Seasonality and ripeness of the fruits are the keys to a tasty and beautiful fruit platter. Not only are fruits in season cheaper, but they also taste better and have full colored flesh. Choosing fruits in season, at the peak of their ripeness, guarantees flavor, color and taste, the very essentials of a great fruit platter.
Pineapples, papaya and other tropical fruits are often still under ripe when they reach the markets. Buy those 2-3 days in advance and ripen them wrapped in a newspaper on a sunny spot by a window. Buy only whole fruits and if at all possible with the stem and leaves intact, these can later be used for decoration. When choosing your fruits, try to visualize the end product and choose different color fruits that will make a nice and colorful fruit platter. Be a bit adventurous with your choice of fruits, venture into the unusual and add a few fruits perhaps not very common or regularly available.
Cutting, Slicing and Dicing the Fruits
Wash and dry all fruits thoroughly. Try to keep all the fruits, whether they are sliced cut or diced in approximately bite size pieces. Use different utensils to cut your fruits – melon baler, Demidof knife (zick-zack) or other specialty knifes and utensils can help improve the cuts. Choose different techniques of slicing fruits. Melons and pineapples can be wedged, skin on and then cut into bite size pieces, kiwifruits in general should be cut in rounds, apricots and plums should be halved or quartered (stone removed), passion fruits should be halved with the fruit pulp left in it, seed fruits like apples and pears should be wedged but de-seeded and grapes should be cut into little bunches. Small fruits like cherries, forest berries and strawberries are best kept whole. Fruits like lychees, mangosteen and rambutans can be served in their skin/shell, but it is wise to remove half of it, to make the fruit easier accessible and for presentation purposes; the very least one should cut in the skin/shell to avoid the guest having to do that.
Moist fruits like oranges, peaches and nectarines are best cut last minute, just before serving as they tend to lose juices when cut and left to stand for a while. Apples, pears and bananas are fruits which easily oxidize when left exposed to air and therefore change color. These should also be cut last minute and, if not eaten immediately, rubbed with a lime to prevent oxidation.
Condiments and Sidings
A fruit platter by itself is just great and not much is needed to complement the ripe and luscious fruits. However there are some traditional condiments that need to be served. Lime is a traditional condiments to papayas while salt need to available for fruits like star fruits, rose apples and similar. Yoghurt, plain or minted, cottage cheese, crème fraiche or mascarpone can enrich the taste of the fruits with the refreshing natural acidity of these dairy products. Honey is another condiment that should be made available as is a natural sugar such as muscovado and perhaps a artificial sugar for those who prefer. Chopped nuts, complement any fruit platter well; choose nuts that come out of the same region as the fruits you are serving. Grated coconut also make a great addition.
What to do with the Leftovers?
The left overs of a fruit platter do not need to go to waste. Fruit juices, Lassi, yoghurt drinks, smoothies or milk shakes are all perfect, healthy and nutritious solutions to use them.
Platters, Service Gear and Utensils
The choice of the right platter for the presentation of the fruit platter is important and can lift the whole presentation. Choose a fairly shallow platter as the fruits tend to slip “down the slope” as the platter is getting emptied by your guests. The platter should however be deep enough to ensure juices that will gather do not seep onto the table. Platters with compartments work very well. Platters with a second layer are obviously always pretty due to the height in presentation they provide.
In terms of service gear, serving spoons and forks as well as little tongs are helpful. Knifes, forks and napkins should be provided for the guests. If you choose to forgo knifes and fork and have the fruit platter cut very rustic all skin on and eaten by hand, it is wise to provide a fingerbowl for the guests. Just simple water with a slice of lime is great. Some fruits like passion fruit and kiwifruits or baby papaya are sometimes spooned out of their shell rather than cut and then a teaspoon should also be provided.