How to Grill Fruit (Plus Recipes)
Basics of Grilling Fruit
Summertime means it's time to brush up on grilling techniques. Sure, anyone can barbecue a steak, but it takes a real chef to know how to grill fruit!
When you grill fruit, you bring out its natural sugars through the caramelizing process and its texture, taste, and temperature is changed. If you've never enjoyed it before, your mouth will be in for a pleasant surprise. A sweet, caramel-tasting fruit side dish can be a tasty side for burgers, hot dogs, and more. Think of it as "grown-up fruit salad."
Worried about high sugar desserts? Diabetics and anyone else watching their waistline will love it. So, pull out the BBQ and let's get ready to grill!
Tips and Techniques
You can grill just about any kind that grows. But, for best results, you'll want to follow these tips and techniques:
- Shop for fresh, firm, ripe (but not overly so) fruit the day you plan on grilling. Pick items that have clear skin and no bruising. Things that are in season will have the best flavor, as well. A mealy apple will still taste bad even if you try to grill it!
- Organic produce may cost a bit more, but is a healthier option—pesticides used in regular farming can leave a toxic residue that is difficult to wash or cook off.
- Types that are high in natural sugars are your best bet. Stone fruits (peaches, plums, apricots) are delicious. Pineapple is also a perennial favorite. Any kind that is large and firm enough to stand up to the grill will work well (apple slices, pears, oranges, strawberries). You can also try grilling certain soft types (bananas, mangoes) in their peels.
- Wash thoroughly before grilling. A helpful tip is to slice the fruit in half or into large chunks and to leave skins on to help hold it all together as it cooks.
- If you want to try grilling smaller things like grapes or even blueberries, consider using skewers or a grill pan to hold them above the flames or coals.
- The final step before grilling is to soak the fruit in 1-2 cups cold water for about 1/2 hour. Add 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice if you like. When you maximize the water content, it will stay extra juicy throughout cooking and all the way to your plate!
- Alternatively, you might enjoy soaking it in liquor instead of water. Try light rum with pineapple... yum!
How to Grill Fruit
Now that you have your fruit prepared, we're ready to grill!
- To prevent sticking to the grill, use a pastry brush and gently "paint" melted butter, vegetable oil, or extra virgin olive oil on both sides of the fruit.
- If desired, you could also use a special marinade or sprinkle with seasoning before grilling. Our favorite is to combine 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Sprinkle over both sides before placing on the grill. You might also like adding grated coconut. Freshly grated ginger is a popular option, too.
- Consider adding spices to the soaking water (step 6 above), like ground cloves, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Any spice that you'd use in a sweet dessert is game!
- Most fruits will need only 3-4 minutes per side to finish. Grill over medium-low heat and don't walk away while it's cooking!
For a fun twist, try making "banana s' mores."
- Take a firm, slightly under-ripe banana and cut a 3-inch long slit down the peel—do not peel the banana!
- Open slightly with your fingers and add 2-3 oz. of milk or dark chocolate.
- Wrap in foil and grill about 5 minutes on each side.
- Open up the peel and eat the banana/chocolate mixture with a spoon!
There are many recipes to consider, from the super easy to the more complex.
One of the simplest side dishes is fruit kebabs. With a skewer, thread chunks of prepared fruit, alternating flavors and colors. Try pineapple, strawberry, cantaloupe, banana, and honeydew. Brush with melted butter before placing on the grill and turn several times for even cooking. Be sure to soak your wood skewers in water for about 10 minutes first to prevent charring.
Make a simple, delicious dessert with grilled pineapple rings or slices. Simply drizzle coconut milk over the top and add chopped macadamia nuts before serving. Paradise!
Another easy idea is to top vanilla ice cream with grilled fruits. Especially delicious are grilled peaches or nectarines. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg over the top. If you are feeling especially indulgent, add whipped cream before serving! The combination of warm and cold is tantalizing and will bring you back to summer or vacation memories.
Having a party, or really want to knock your dinner guests' socks off? Try some of these recipes:
Grilled Fruit with Bourbon Glaze: Paula Deen makes sure you won't consider dessert an afterthought ever again. Let's skip the main course right now!
Grilled Fruit with Balsamic Vinegar Syrup: This recipe promises to be especially healthy, as it comes from the Mayo Clinic.
What grilled fruit sounds best to you?
© 2010 Stephanie Marshall