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Techniques - Fruit and Nuts

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks

Fruit and Nuts

Make lemon zest julienne

These strips are used in a large variety of recipes as flavorings and garnishes. Choose unwaxed lemons, if possible

Using a peeler, remove strips of the zest with as little of the bitter pith as possible.

If any pith remains, use a sharp knife to slice it off by running your knife along the peel away from you. Using a rocking motion with your knife, slice the peel into thin strips.

Peel and prepare apples

Choose apples that are sweet-smelling, firm, and unbruised. The skin should be taut and unbroken

Core and peel

Core an apple by pushing a corer straight into the stalk of the apple, through to the bottom. Twist and loosen the core, then pull it out with the corer.

Using a peeler or small paring knife, gently remove the skin of the apple by cutting a circular path around the body from top to bottom.

Make rings

Place the cored apple onto its side, and hold it steady on a clean cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice down through the apple. Repeat, making slices of even thickness.


After slicing, stack the rings, a few at a time. Slice down through the pile, then repeat crosswise in the opposite direction, making pieces of about the same size.

Section citrus fruit

Sectioning citrus fruit ensures clean and precise wedges for a more attractive garnish

With a sharp knife, cut a small piece of peel from the top and base of the fruit so it can stand upright. Holding it firmly, slice down and around the flesh, following the contour of the skin. Try to remove as much of the white pith as possible. Use a small knife to cut away any pith left clinging to the fruit.

The fruit will now reveal the contours of each section, which is separated from the next by a membrane. Cut into and along the edge of a section. Cut back along its outer edge, which will free the membrane. Repeat this process with all the sections, discarding the membranes. This technique works with all citrus fruit.

Prepare a mango

Cutting “halves” on each side of the fibrous pit and turning the mango “inside out” is the cleanest way to remove the flesh

Standing the mango on its side, cut the fruit by running your knife just to one side of the pit; repeat the cut on the other side, so that a single slice remains with the pit attached.

With the halves flesh-side up, score the flesh lengthwise into strips, then cut crosswise, cutting to, but not through the skin. Press the skin side of the mango “inside out,” so that the flesh is exposed, and can be easily removed. Run your knife along the skin to remove the cubes.

Cut pineapple

Preparing fresh pineapple is simple. Be careful when handling the prickly outer skin

Make rings

With a sharp knife, cut the top and base off the pineapple. Stand the fruit upright and follow the contour of the flesh, removing the skin in long strips from top to bottom. Dig out any “eyes.”

To make the rings, turn the pineapple on its side, and cut into slices. Use a small, round cookie cutter to remove the center of each ring.

Make slices

Quarter the fruit, then cut lengthwise to remove the core at the center of each piece. Beginning at the leaf end, cut between the flesh and the skin.

Cut the flesh crosswise against the skin, making slices of even width. Repeat, cutting the other quarters into slices.

Peel peaches and nectarines

Removing the skin is necessary for many desserts, sauces, and purées

With a small, sharp knife, cut a small cross in the skin at the base of the fruit. This will make it easier to remove the skin.

Immerse the fruit in boiling water for 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, remove the fruit from the water, and transfer it to another bowl filled with cold water. When the fruit is cool enough to handle, remove it from the water, and carefully pull the skin from the flesh with your fingers.

Poach fruit

Choose firm, slightly unripe fruits, as they will hold their shape better, and the poaching will complete the ripening

Poach fruit in sugar syrup

Apples, apricots, pears, peaches, plums, and quinces are all suited to poaching. Pit or core, then halve the fruit. Add to simmering sugar syrup, making sure that the fruit is completely submerged. Sweeter syrups ensure that the fruit will retain its shape.

Poach the fruit for 10–15 minutes, or until tender, and remove with a slotted spoon. Boil the syrup until it is slightly reduced, strain, then pour over the fruit to serve.

Poach pears in wine

Heat red wine with spices or flavoring–fresh citrus zest, whole cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, or vanilla beans–and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Peel the pears and add to the pan. Poach at a simmer for 15–25 minutes, or until tender.

Remove the pan from the heat, and let the pears cool in the liquid. When cool, remove the pears with a slotted spoon and set aside. Bring the liquid to a boil. When the syrup is slightly reduced, pour over the pears and serve.

Make a sauce for crêpes

Crêpes are a simple dish; this sauce makes them elegant. See flambé sauce

In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp orange or lemon juice with 1 tbsp sugar and 1 pat butter over low heat. Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Place the crêpes into the pan one at a time, coating evenly with the sauce.

Fold a crêpe in half, then in half again, and transfer immediately to a plate. Repeat with the remaining crêpes.

For flambéing

For impressive presentation, setting the crêpes aflame is always exciting. Place the crêpes back into the pan with the sauce, plus brandy or liqueur. Cook for a few seconds to warm. Remove from the heat, and carefully light the brandy with a long match. Let burn 30 seconds, then cover the pan if the fire hasn’t burned out. Serve immediately.

Peel chestnuts

Choose chestnuts that are heavy, with smooth, shiny shells

Using a small, sharp knife, score the flat side of the chestnut, making an “x” to keep it from exploding when hot.

Roast the chestnuts until the shells split, about 30 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off the shells and the inner skins.

Coarsely chop the chestnuts with a sharp knife if you wish to use them for stuffing.

Blanching chestnuts

Instead of roasting the chestnuts to split their shells, they can also be blanched. Place the chestnuts in a saucepan with plenty of cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. When the shells split, drain the chestnuts on paper towels, and peel when cool enough to handle.

Prepare almonds

If you wish, you can peel, blanch, slice, and chop almonds yourself

To blanch, place the almonds in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 2–3 minutes, then drain in a colander.

To peel, pinch each almond between your thumbs and index fingers to slip the nut out of its skin. Alternatively, rub the nuts in a dish towel to remove the skin.

To slice, hold each nut flat on a cutting board. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the almonds into slices. To make thin slivers, carefully slice the almonds lengthwise.

To chop, use a large, sharp knife to cut the nuts to the required size – coarse or fine. Other nuts can be chopped in the same way.

Shell walnuts and pecans

Walnuts and pecans are used in both savory and sweet dishes

Use a nutcracker. The inner skin is difficult to peel away, but perfectly fine to eat. Be very careful to keep your fingers out of the way of the nutcracker.

Skin pistachios

Inside the hard tan-colored shell is a delicious green nut

Place the shelled pistachios in a bowl, and blanch as for almonds, above. Rub the skins off between sheets of paper towel or a dish towel.

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