Fruits are closely related to vegetables, and some foods we refer to as vegetables are
botanically fruits, for example eggplant and zucchini. In daily usage the term fruit is used to describe plant foods in which the carbohydrates occur mainly in the form of sugars, while vegetables are those plant foods in which carbohydrates occur mainly as starch.
Fruits provide us with a variety of flavours, colours and textures and with sweet foods which are not energy dense. This means that per unit of weight their kilojoule or calorie values are relatively low. With the exception of the avocado, which contains mono-saturated fats, fruit contains very little fat.
Fruits are a valuable source of vitamin C, and dietary fibre. Some fruits, such as citrus fruits and apples, contain soluble fibres, which are helpful in the controlling of cholesterol levels in the blood. Fruits contain very little sodium and many of them are an excellent source of potassium.
Bacteria that cause food poisoning are not usually present in fruit, but fruit does attract
bacteria of the type that cause moulds.
TYPES OF FRUIT
There are many varieties of fruit available, but the main ones can be put into three groups:
1. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits include lemons, limes, grapefruits, tangerines, oranges and several hybrids.
They are characterised by a thick rind, most of which is a bitter white pith with a thin layer of coloured skin known as zest. Their flesh is segmented and juicy. Citrus fruits are acidic, with a strong aroma and their flavours vary from bitter to tart to sweet. Citrus fruits grow on trees and shrubs in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide. All citrus fruits are fully ripened on the tree and will not ripen further after harvesting. They should be refrigerated for longer storage. Oranges, grapefruit and lemons are not usually cooked, except for marmalade.
Lemons and limes are used for flavouring and garnishing, particularly fish dishes.
2. Exotic Fruit
Exotic fruits include fruits like figs. There are several varieties of white, purple and red figs, found in Mediterranean countries and eaten fresh or used in relish. They are excellent in baking. Pomegranates are native to Iran and grown in many tropical and subtropical areas.
They have a thin but hard rind and the seeds are red sacs of juice. It is used as flavourings in summer drinks in the Middle East. Prickly pears are a relative of the cactus. The fruits are either red or yellow and covered in spines. Rhubarb is technically a vegetable but used as a fruit. When fresh it is stewed with sugar and used in pies and jams.
3. Fruit of the Vine
Melons, like pumpkin and cucumber, are members of the gourd family. The dozens of melon varieties can be divided into two general types, sweet (dessert) melons and watermelons.
Sweet melons have a tan, green or yellow, netted, fragrant flesh. Watermelon has a thick, dark green rind surrounding crisp, watery flesh. Melons are almost 90% water, so cooking destroys their texture, turning the flesh to mush. Melons blend well into fruit salads.
4. Hard fruits
Hard Fruits are fruits with thin skin and firm flesh, surrounding a central core containing
many small seeds called pips. They include apples and pears. Apples and pears are used in many pastry dishes. Apples are also used for garnishing meat dishes and for sauce which is served with roast pork or duck.
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5. Soft fruits
The arrival of these fruits heralds the coming of summer, but they will not be fully flavoured or as sweet as later on in the season. In the case of most berries however, it is a pleasure to buy at least a few early ones for decorating creamy puddings. Strawberries and raspberries are used in desserts. Gooseberries, black and red currants and blackberries are stewed and used in pies and puddings. They are also used for jam and flavourings.
6. Stone fruits
Also known as drupes; include apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums. They are characterised by a thin skin, soft flesh and one woody stone or pip. Although most originated in China, the shrubs and trees producing stone fruits are now grown in temperate climates worldwide. They tend to be fragile fruits, easily bruised and have a short shelf life .Do not wash them until ready for use, as moisture causes deterioration. Stone fruits are excellent dried and are often used in liqueurs and brandies.
7. Tropical fruits
Tropical fruits are native to the world’s hot, tropical or subtropical regions. All can be eaten fresh without cooking. Their flavours complement each other and go well with rich or spicy meat, fish and poultry dishes. They include bananas, dates, kiwis, mangoes, papayas, passion fruit and pineapples.
In general, fresh fruit should have these quality points, which are:
1. Clean, although with freshly picked local farm produce or organically grown items, the
presence of a little soil is acceptable.
2. Good size and shape – no wide variation in size and shape in any one box.
3. Packages of pre-prepared and frozen fruit should be in good condition. Discard the fruit if it has passed its use-by or best-before date.
4. Good colour, with no signs of bruising.
5. Fresh appearance with no sign of wilting, ageing or insect damage.
Source : Hospitality Trainers