Fruits Classification, nutrients, purchasing, preparing and storing
What are fruits • In botany, a fruit is the ripenedovary—together with seeds—of a flowering plant. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants disseminate seeds • In cuisine, when discussing fruit as food, the term usually refers to those plant fruits that are sweet and fleshy, examples of which include plums, apples and oranges. However, a great many common vegetables, as well as nuts and grains, are the fruit of that plant species. • Fruits are classified into six categories depending on their physical characteristics: berries, drupes, pomes. Citrus, melons and tropical.
BERRIES • small juicy fruits with thin skins and lots of tiny pits – includes strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapes, cranberries and blackcurrants. Except for cranberries, all are highly perishable. Soften with freezing, but make very good jams, jellies and preserves.
DRUPES • Outer skin covering a soft, fleshy fruit with a single, large seed, called a pit or stone. Include cherries, peaches, apricots and plums.
POMES • Central, seed containing core, with many seeds and thick layer of fibrous flesh. Include apples, pears.
CITRUS FRUIT • Thick, bitter outer rind with soft layer of pith. Flesh separates into segments of sections. Includes oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, tangerines etc.
MELONS • Large, juicy fruit with thick rinds and many seeds in the center. Include watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, casaba.
TROPICAL FRUITS • Grow in warm climates and are often considered exotic. Include pineapples, mangoes, papaya, kiwi, coconut, bananas, dragonfruit
Nutritional Value • Two to Four servings each day • Serving size is one medium size piece, ½ cup chopped fruit and ¾ cup fruit juice • Citrus fruits provide high amounts of Vitamin C and prevent scurvy (limies) • Orange fruits (melons, apricots, peaches) contain large quantities of beta carotene (Vitamin A) • Significant source of fiber • Contribute phytochemicals (antioxidants)
Available Forms • Canned – watch for added sugars and syrups, also pick cans with NO dents or bulges • Frozen – can soften and destroy texture of fruit, can be sweetened or unsweetened • Dried – Most fruits are available in dried form. Can be packaged or sold loose. Watch for use of sulfur in processing, can cause allergies and mar flavor
Preparing fruit • Enzymatic browning – many fruits exposed to air will turn brown (ex: bananas, apples). Using lemon juice or acidulated water will help prevent this. • Fruits should be carefully washed before use, especially in foreign countries. • Peel or pare fruit to remove as little of flesh as possible, or wash well and eat the skin (extra fiber).
Methods of cooking • Cooking in liquid – ex: apple sauce, poached pears • Baking – ex: baked bananas, apples • Broiling – bananas, grapefruit, pineapple • Frying – apples, bananas • Microwaving – choose pieces of similar size to prevent overcooking. Remember food continues cooking (standing time)
Purchasing and Storing • Buy fresh fruit, locally grown, in season • Fruit spoils rapidly, use quickly. • Ripen drupes (apricots, peaches, avocado) in brown paper bags • Refrigeration slows down spoilage • Check for bruises, cuts, mold and softness • Buy in small quantities, just what you need • Smell fruit, should be fragrant. Feel it’s weight, ripe fruit feels “heavy”. Check color – green can indicate underripeness. Some fruits will be soft to the touch
Fruits you may not know cherimoya dragonfruit mangosteen Carambola (starfruit) Rambutan lychee