When we lived on the mountain top in Costa Rica for a year, I developed a passion for tropical fruit. Mangoes, pineapples, bananas, mandarines, guyaba, guanabana, sour oranges, mora ( a family member of the blackberry) and many others. Unlike the soft fruit, pomes and berries that we grow on the homestead, some of these fruits are a challenge to eat. They have difficult to remove skins or are a mess to eat out of hand. One thing I learned while living in the tropics is that there is more than one way to skin a fruit... and I am going to share with you some of the techniques that we have learned for getting the the fruit out of the peel and in the bowl as efficiently and quickly as possible with the least amount of mess and waste.
Many people I have talked to say they like mango but it is such a pain peel them, that they usually just pass them up, so I'll begin with mangoes. I am re-posting a blog entry from a couple of years ago to start with and added a short tutorial on how to section a grapefruit. Since this is a static side bar page instead of a regular blog entry, I will add other how to prepare fruit tutorials as time goes on. I will announce new additions on the blog as I put them up so that you don't miss them.
Fortunately for us there were plenty of mangoes to go around and for some reason, neither the parrots nor the monkeys bothered the mangas.
Recently, I went to the local Harris Teeter grocery store. It tends to be on the high end as far as prices go but has great sales. I shop there for the sales, so this past week I went in for the store flyer so that I could plan my weeks "sale" shopping list. I saw large crates of mangoes stacked close to the door with the prices posted at 49 cents each. Normally the best price on mangoes is about $1 each so to get them for half that was a real deal! So I bought 20 of them and went happily home to work them up.
Not all of the mangoes were ripe enough to eat so they were set out in a bowl to decorate my counter with their multicolored loveliness until they were ready. I selected the ripe ones and put half of them out for eating, the rest I cut up and froze for future use.
For my birthday this past year my husband bought me an Excalibur dehydrator. I love it and use it all the time. Making fruit leathers is one of the really easy, tasty things that can be done with a dehydrator. So since the mangoes are plentiful right now I will be making some fruit leathers with mango. To make fruit leather you need a blender, a dehydrator and some silica sheets, (Excalibur sell a silica sheet that fits the trays in the dehydrator, other dehydrators have solid trays that serve the same purpose). Blend the fruit in the blender until smooth, then pour the blended fruit onto the sheet and spread out starting in the center and work to the edges. Try to distribute the mixture evenly so that the fruit leather dries uniformly. You can use a single fruit or a blend of different ones. Other things can be added, such as natural flavorings, spices, nuts or coconut. Just sprinkle on top of the fruit pulp after it is spread out on the sheet. Set the dehydrator on the temperature setting recommended by the dehydrator you are using and set the time for the minimum recommended. Keep a check on the progress as the leather starts to get tacky, so that you don't have crispy leathers. The finished product should be pliable but not sticky and should peel off the sheet in one piece. Be sure there are no wet places around the nuts or coconut if added. Once the correct consistency is achieved the fruit leather can be rolled into rolls lengthwise and then cut into desired lengths. I cut out pieces of plastic wax paper longer and wider than the fruit leather, lay the leather on the wax paper and then roll it up. Once in a roll I cut it to desired length and then wrap in plastic wrap. The wax paper keeps the fruit from sticking together and makes unrolling the leather to eat it easier, the plastic keeps it from drying out or sticking to other rolls. If you want to have rolls of fruit leather you can bite pieces off of, just skip the wax paper, roll the leather up in a tight roll and then wrap in plastic.
Sectioning a Grapefruit
I often crave ruby red grapefruit as a late evening snack. I don't know why, maybe it is the sparkling fresh flavor that lifts my spirits when I am working late into the evening blogging or maybe it is some kind of biochemical thing and my body is just telling me that it needs something and grapefruit has it. Whatever the reason, grapefruit is too messy to eat out of hand when working at the computer or sitting on the couch reading, so I section my grapefruit and eat it out of a bowl with a spoon.
To section a grapefruit start by cutting off the top and bottom of the grapefruit, just to where you start seeing the pink flesh.
Then cut through the skin, making sure to take as much of the pith as possible, but not take much of the flesh.
Taking a paring knife, slide the blade between the section membrane and the flesh all the way to the center. Repeat on the other side of the section, then pull the section of grapefruit out and place it in a bowl. It is probably a good idea to do this whole process over a bowl so you don't lose any of the delicious juice.
Repeat this sectioning process all the way around the sections, being careful to leave all the membrane behind.
When all the sections are done, there will still be some juicy pulp left on the membranes so be sure to squeeze all of the juice and pulp out of the membranes and add it to your sections in the bowl.
Since I don't want to waste any of that good juice, I usually take a spoon and scrape the pulp off of the pith before I put the skins in the compost.
All that is left to do at this point is to pour the remaining juice into the bowl with the fruit sections, get a spoon and enjoy!
Coming in the near future... Paring a pineapple and peeling and coring apples to make dried apple rings.
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