Exotic fruit: The time is now
Date: 18-04-2017 published by Nick Baines
The intensity of exotic fruit can be hard to beat, particularly when the summer comes a-knocking. While the classical flavours of the British summertime are iconically popular, nothing rings the sunshine through as well as the alluring flavours of warmer climes.
Acai bowls have been on the trend watch list for a while now and could be on the cusp of hitting the mainstream. The acai palm is native to South America and its fruit delivers a sharp, intense, almost sour quality that when tempered with sweeter fruit, brings perfect balance to what is often an overly sweet fruit smoothie. It’s considered a cure-all in countries like Brazil and considered a superfood by many. Most often, acai is sold as a powder that hydrates very easily.
The popularity of this dish has opened up the smoothie bowl market and various versions are being served up everywhere from Edinburgh to Brighton. The key is to create a thick-set smoothie and top with contrasting textures like granola and whole sliced fruit.
Elsewhere, flavours like coconut are continuing to soar. Coconut sugar and coconut milk are being used to great effect in ice creams, jams and even chilli sauces. Mango is another solid favourite here in the UK, but consider pairing herbs with these tropical fruits. Tarragon and mango is a killer combination, as is coconut and mint.
You might have noticed papayas creeping onto both menus and supermarket shelves during the past couple of months. This thick textured fruit has the ability to work in both sweet and savoury dishes and can be used to deliver texture and richness in desserts. While avocado is being used as a fat substitute in baking, the density of papaya lends itself to similar repurposing.
Perhaps one of the most hotly tipped exotic fruits for 2017 is soursop, also known and sold as custard apple or guanabana. This fibrously textured fruit has an unrivalled brightness and is being used by Rene Redzepi and his crew who are currently operating a pop-up on the beach in Tulum, Mexico. Noma are embracing the native ingredients and preparation techniques of southern Mexico and have championed fruits like guanabana, jackfruit and cacao.
Even more familiar exotic fruits such as watermelon, pineapple and dragon fruit are enjoying an renewed enthusiasm, with watermelon water undergoing a cult-like appreciation. With these humble fruits getting action in chilli salsas, chutneys and relishes, summer menus are tipped to deliver a huge payoff in fresh, vibrant flavours and stand up to some of the stronger savoury spices like cinnamon, cayenne, and cardamom.
So whether you’re looking to appease some of your fussier customers, taking a step in the wellness direction, or simply looking to bring some more exciting flavours to the table, a simple upgrade of your fruit bowl could help transform your dessert, dinner and brunch offerings.
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