If you are like 75% of Americans this year, you likely grilled out this Memorial Day weekend. You probably had some delicious burgers, brats, and hot dogs. Or maybe you had something more robust like steaks. You may have even put some early season fresh sweet corn on the grill to round out the meal. But have you ever tried grilling fruit?
We typically associate the grill with the savory part of our meal. But while the grill is hot, it is easy to throw on some fruit and create a delicious side dish or tasty dessert. Some of my favorite fruits to grill are watermelon, peaches, and pineapple. The hot temperature of the grill naturally caramelizes the sugars in the fruit bringing out their sweetness. The smokiness of the grill and the slight char provides a richness and depth of flavor. Here are three winning combinations that are sure to impress at your next grill out.
Maple grilled peaches
Here’s what you’ll need:
4 ripe peaches, cut in half with the stone removed
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1 small seedless watermelon
3 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar
1 pineapple cut into slices
1 cup shredded coconut
Brush the peach halves lightly with oil and place them on a hot grill – pit side down. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until nice grill marks have formed. Flip over and brush with maple syrup. Cook for approximately 3 more minutes continuing to brush with maple syrup. Serve warm or with a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Garnish with chopped pecans.
Cut watermelon into 3/4 inch thick slices and then quarter the slices. Brush surface with a little oil and place on a hot grill for 5 minutes or until grill marks have formed. Flip the fruit and repeat on the opposite side. Plate up and drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving. Garnish with thinly sliced mint leaves.
Dredge pineapple slices in the coconut flakes and place on a hot grill. Cook for approximately 4 minutes on each side or until nice grill marks have formed. The coconut should turn a golden brown color. Serve warm. Garnish with an extra sprinkle of coconut.
And now the rest of the story:
So where do all of these ingredients come from? Peaches are a stone fruit that are grown in temperate climates. The orchards are typically pollinated with bees in the spring and early summer and fruit will mature to be harvested in the middle to late summer. South Carolina and Georgia are known as large peach producing states, but China now supplies approximately 50% of the world’s peaches.
Many people might assume that seedless watermelons are GMOs…well not exactly! Seedless fruits can be created from plants that are not fertilized by pollination. Some seedless fruits occur when we cross breed one cultivar with a variety that contains extra chromosomes which will result in infertile offspring and seedless fruits. It is the same thing that happens when a horse breeds with a donkey. The resulting mule is infertile! Watermelons come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the top watermelon producing states include Texas, Florida, Georgia, and California.
Balsamic vinegar starts with the Trebbiano grape. The juice is boiled down and reduced into a thick syrup. Old batches of balsamic vinegar are added to the new batches because they carry the microorganisms that will turn the sugar in the juice into alcohol and the alcohol into acetic acid. The syrup is then aged for at least 12 years in wooden barrels.
Pineapples are grown in tropical regions of the world including Latin America, Brazil, and Hawai’i. They are part of the bromeliad family and the pineapple grows out the top of the spikey plant. Workers have to be careful when they harvest the fruit. The crown of the pineapple serves as a natural protection from the fruit getting bruised during transportation.
Most coconuts come from southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and the Philippines. Coconuts are the fruit of a type of palm tree. They have a tough exterior shell that surrounds hard white flesh. The white flesh is grated to make shredded coconut. You can even make it yourself!