Basic Principles of Preparing Fruits to Maintain Nutrients
1. Use fresh fruits at their peak of ripeness.
Most fruits have the highest vitamin content when they are at their peak of ripeness. Heat and light can destroy the nutrient content. They taste the best when they are ripe. Fruits that are not ripe enough are generally tart where they should be sweet, and crunchy where they should be soft.
Less time spent in transportation from field to plate helps ensure a fresher fruit at its peak of flavor and nutrient content.
2. Wash fresh fruits in cool water before they are peeled or stemmed.
Fruits can lose nutrients if they are bruised or cut and then put in water. Berries are a good example. Wash strawberries before they are hulled. The skin may not be clean so washing before processing removes the dirt and pesticides. Fruits served with the skin left on should be washed carefully. This includes oranges and melons. Apples are covered with an edible wax that is not removed during washing.
Wash apples in cold water. Bananas should also be rinsed in cold water before
serving or peeling.
3. Cut fresh fruits in the largest pieces that are acceptable for serving, considering the age of the student. Avoid crushing fruits since this injures the fruit cells and causes more vitamin loss.
When fruit is cut in many smaller pieces, more total surface area of the fruit is
exposed and more vitamin C can be lost.
4. Follow the recipe or directions for preparing a fruit dish.
Recipes or the general directions for preparing a fruit dish are based on well-accepted culinary techniques that preserve nutrients.
Basic Principles of Preparing Fruits to Meet Quality Standards
1. Prepare fruit dishes so they have an
appealing appearance. Follow the recipe or directions for preparing a fruit to maintain the correct color and shape of the fruit pieces.
The colors in fruits are the same as those in vegetables. Some fruits, like peaches, bananas, apples, and avocados turn brown when they are cut and surfaces are exposed to air. This is called oxidation. An acid, like lemon juice, lime juice, pineapple juice, or orange juice slows browning. Notice that these juices are all good sources of vitamin C. A commercial product that contains
vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can also be
used to slow browning.
2. Prepare fruit dishes so they have appropriate texture. Most fruits have atexture that is unique for that fruit. When
the fruit doesn’t have that texture, it is unacceptable. Mushy apples or green bananas are not appealing and should not be served. The texture that is appropriate for a fruit varies. Kiwi fruit should be soft while a fresh apple should be crisp. Cooked apples used for a fruit cobbler should be soft but not mushy. Raisins should be chewy. Follow the recipe or directions for exact cooking times to get the right texture. As a general rule, fruits should be cooked only for a short time.
Most fresh fruits need to be kept refrigerated. However, avocados should not be refrigerated since it stops their ripening. Once they are ripe, they can be refrigerated for a short time to keep them fresh if they cannot be served immediately. Bananas should not be refrigerated. After bananas have been refrigerated, the skin darkens and they are unacceptable for use as a whole fruit on the serving line. Refrigerated bananas may be peeled and used in fruit salad or in a baked product.
Frozen fruits should also be used at their peak of freshness. Thaw
frozen fruits in
the refrigerator. Some frozen fruits can be served while they still contain ice crystals; this helps retain their shape. Frozen strawberries and other berries can be added to a fruit mixture before they are completely thawed or they can be placed as a choice on a salad or fruit bar.
3. Prepare fruit dishes for good flavor typical of the main fruit ingredients. Recipes that include fruits often have many other ingredients, including spices. The other ingredients should complement the fruit but not
The flavor of a fruit is affected by freshness and added seasonings.
4. Serve fruit dishes at the right temperature. Hot fruit dishes should be served at a temperature between 160 °F and 180 °F. Chilled fruit dishes should be served between 34 °F and 38 °F.
5. Fruit juice should be kept frozen or at 40 °F. Juice should be completely thawed prior
to serving. Individual pre-portioned containers assure freshness. Juices can be poured a day before service and stored, covered in the refrigerator. Nutrients will be lost to the air if juice is left uncovered.