How to cut and prepare fruit efficiently

With Linseed Topping

In short, wash and dry your fruit before cutting. Minimise the amount of cutting to retain freshness, particularly with easily bruised fruit. Make sure there are no overripe fruit or rotting bits so you can enjoy your lunch with your eyes closed.

Bring both whole and cut-up fruit with you to work. Apples, bananas and easy-peel fruit such as mandarins are easy to eat as they are and they won’t make a mess on your desk. Tip: for bananas, have a look at this site  http://www.wikihow.com/Peel-a-Banana. I could not have expressed it better myself. Impressive, isn’t it?

We probably all have our own ways of cutting fruit but my way suits me just fine. All I use is a chef knife and a smaller utility knife. Pieces should be made as large as possible as this will help keep your fruit stay fresh for longer. Because I hate waste, my selection of fruit for the day is always based on how ripe they are, not on which ones I fancy the most.

Blackberries – no advice on how to cut blackberries of course…. just a little Tip: instead of pouring the blackberries inside your container, pick them two at a time (or four at a time if using both hands) with your fingers and roll them gently with your thumb to ensure they are not squashy. If they feel very soft, they are probably overripe and would not taste very nice, so discard them. If you are unsure, put it in your mouth! Your tastebuds are the best judge.

Grapes – the one good thing about making your own food is that you know you have done it well i.e. no sour or rotting fruit. So have a quick look at your grapes before placing them in the container. If the stem area is looking a bit dodgy, just cut it off with a sharp knife.

Remember to rinse before use

Kiwis – As mentioned in my previous post, when in a hurry, kiwis can be cut in half (with the skin left on) and wrapped in foil ready to be eaten with a spoon later. But, I think that kiwis should be included in your fruit salad because they look so lovely sliced. With a bit of practice, you should be able to peel them quite quickly. If ripe to perfection, the skin should peel beautifully. So, when choosing which kiwis to cut first, make sure they yield under gentle pressure of your thumb. Too firm and they will taste sour and be impossible to peel. Too mushy and they will turn sickly almost alcoholic. First, give the kiwi a quick rinse under the tap to remove most of its little hairs and give it a couple of good shakes with your arm and wrist to remove excess water.  Insert your knife at the stem area of the kiwi 1cm down and at a slight angle, and cut around the stem with a little see-saw action so that you are left with a little pyramid. Then, cut off the other end of the kiwi. Holding your kiwi upside down, remove the skin from the fruit with your knife using a top to bottom motion, trying to remove as little of the flesh as possible.  If you feel that the kiwi is really mushy, this is probably because it is too ripe. Don’t use it because it would spoil your fruit salad.

Pears - again they must yield under gentle pressure. Place your knife next to the stem and cut lengthwise twice so as to get quarters. Run the knife right behind the thin fibrous core then peel the fruit. Use a peeler if you would rather but practice makes perfect so try and keep using your knife.

Pineapple – I cut my pineapple as instructed on the label, i.e. cut off both ends, then stand and cut in half lengthwise, etc. until you get 1/8 of the fruit, which is roughly one individual portion. Some people like to leave the pineapple whole and cut the skin all

Cut with skin on the chopping board

around. But if you only want to use a couple of slices, the fruit will stay fresher with its skin on. When removing the skin from the side of your individual portion, use a vertical motion (safer than horizontally).

Use a vertical motion

 Try and cut as near the skin as possible to get most of the flesh. You will then be left with little “eyes” that will be easily removed with a small knife.

Finishing touch

Ho! and don’t forget to remove the hard core that runs down the centre of the pineapple!

Pomegranates– you may have heard of Jamie Oliver’s great trick on how to remove the seeds but it does not really work for me because i) I will probably not use the whole fruit and I want to keep it as intact as possible to retain freshness and ii) even if I did want to use the whole fruit, I want to use ALL the seeds and tapping with a knife or a wooden spoon does not dislodge the ones behind the little skin partitions.

So, here is what I do. Cut in half lengthwise. With a small knife, remove as much of the thick skin as you can at the top and bottom of the fruit so that the fruit is no longer rigid and can be easily be pulled open into pieces with your hands. Do it a little bit at a time so as to avoid cutting through any seeds. You can now break it open with your hands and push/flick the seeds into your container using your thumb and/or fingers.

One portion of pomegranate

Strawberries – make sure you dry them after washing as they are very fragile. Tip: leave strawberries to dry on a piece of kitchen paper, stem side up, while you get on with other tasks. Cut off any mushy bits. You may want to keep the green tops on to help retain some freshness. Keep them whole unless too large.

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