Still on the subject of packed lunches, you will agree that a nice selection of fruit gives your packed lunch that little extra special touch. And of course, it helps you exceed the recommended 5-a-day target. So, how do you prepare your fruit? When preparing lunch, I usually keep apples and bananas whole and make a fruit salad with the other pieces of fruit. And start using whatever fruit gets spoiled first.
Do not use more than the recommended daily portion of the same fruit as it still counts as one fruit, otherwise you will just be wasting your money. Also, seasonal fruit are not only cheaper but taste so much nicer. When washed, let your fruit dry on a piece of kitchen towel while you get on with other things. This is particularly important for strawberries, otherwise they will be mushy by the time you eat your fruit salad.
- Apples – a wide variety to choose from. Maybe you could buy one different type every week for a change. 1 per day.
- Bananas – very cheap all year round. Try and get one yellow bunch ready to eat and one green bunch so you don’t end up with black bananas at the end of the week. Tip: don’t throw out black bananas, they are delicious cooked sliced in a frying pan with some butter. Add brown sugar and Grand Marnier or Rum. Cook for 10 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream. Yummy! 1 per day.
- Blackberries – one small handful is sufficient. Keep them in the fridge if possible.
- Grapes – make sure the stem is still green, not brown and dry, proof that they are fresh. One handful is a good amount. Keep in the fridge too if space allows.
- Kiwis – very cheap all year round. Go for firm fruit so you have a good supply throughout the week. Tip: to speed up ripening, place a couple of kiwis inside a brown paper bag with a banana for a few days. To slow it down, place your kiwis in the fridge. 1 per day (that’s plenty for me although the NHS says to have two). Tip: if you are pressed for time, cut the kiwi into two but not all the way through and wrap in inside some foil. Then, just scoop the flesh with a spoon and enjoy.
- Mangos – they are ready when feeling a little soft under the finger. ½ per day.
- Melons – they are either lovely or … tasteless. Just like strawberries, they will usually taste nicer when in season. Tip: buy the heaviest melon, it shows that it is full of sugar. 1 large slice per day.
- Oranges, etc.– their flesh tends to get a bit dry in the warmer seasons. Easy-peel fruit like mandarins or clementines are very handy in a packed lunch. Oranges are always the last to go in our family, probably because they take the longest to peel. Tip: make some juice to get rid of the leftover oranges. Add some sugar if needs be. 1 orange per day. 2 mandarins per day.
- Pomegranates- Tip: Cut in half to get access to the fruit. Remove the hard skin at the top and bottom with a knife. Then you can break bits of the fruit without cutting through the red seeds. 1 handful per day. Keep remainder in fridge.
- Passion fruit – too expensive to count as 1 of your 5-a-day. Choose them when the skin is smooth and shiny but don’t start using them until they are all wrinkly. As it has a fabulously strong flavour, you only need to use them sparingly, just for flavour. Use ¼ or ½ per day scattered on top of other fruits. Keep the remainder in the fridge until needed.
- Pears – the only pears we seem to like in our family are Comice pears. So, if you do not like pears, please try the Comice and let me know if you have changed your mind about pears! Unfortunately, they are not available all year round. Tip: buy them hard so that they don’t get spoiled in your shopping bag. A pear is ripe when you can feel a slight give when pressing with your finger. Tip: to prevent them from turning brown, dip them in orange or lemon juice as soon as you have peeled them and minimise cutting, i.e. leave them as quarters, just leave them as quarters. I usually use ½ pear per person in my salad or a whole one when small.
- Pineapple. The fruit is ready to eat when you are able to pull out one of the small leaves in the middle of the crown. 1 large slice per day. Keep the remainder in the fridge.
- Strawberries – personally, I find that forced strawberries are rather tasteless. They are also quite expensive when bought out of season. Have a sniff, if they smell nice, they will probably taste nice too. Keep them whole unless large. 1 large handful.
Bon, c’est fini! Bonne nuit!