Fruit is perfect for the grill because it is so easy to prepare. Fruit is basically made up of water and sugar and by grilling it you can concentrate the flavors by reducing the water and caramelizing the natural sugars. The process is very simple. You need sliced fruit, water, and cooking oil to make the most basic grilled fruit. What you will get is a quick and easy addition to any meal whether it is as an appetizer, side dish, or dessert.
Hard fruits like apples, pears, and pineapples are the easiest to grill since they hold their shape and texture while cooking. Softer fruits like peaches, nectarines, plums and mangoes will become soft and mushy if overcooked. You will need to be more attentive of these kinds of fruit. Either way, pick a fresh firm fruit that is just short of being perfectly ripe. You will want a fruit that is solid enough to hold together and maintain its texture on the grill.
With many fruits, you can simply cut them in half. Split bananas lengthwise (leave the peels on to hold them together) and cut apples, pears and similar fruits down the middle and remove the seeds and core. Typically, with most fruits, you can leave the peels on. This helps hold them together whether you eat the skin or not. Large fruits and citrus should be cut into slices to expose the flesh to the flame.
Once you have cut the fruit, soak it in water to maximize the amount of liquid inside the fruit so it stays juicy on the grill. Use enough cold water to completely cover the fruit and add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to each cup of water to preserve its color. Let fruits soak in the lemon water for 20 to 30 minutes. If you need to, add ice to keep the water cold.
It is best to grill fruit over medium heat on a very clean cooking grate. Nothing will ruin the flavor of fruit like leftover drippings from the last batch of hamburgers you made. So, make sure to clean the grate before using. To keep the fruit from sticking to the grill, lightly spray them with cooking oil or brush them with melted butter. Many oils, like olive oil, have too strong of a flavor for fruit, so pick something that will compliment but not overpower it.
This basic process will give you flavorful grilled fruit that will be perfect for any course. To step up the flavor of the fruit, try adding spices to the water the fruit soaks in and increasing the soaking time. Simply throwing a stick of cinnamon into a bowl of soaking apples will enhance its flavor. You can also add spices like nutmeg, allspice, cloves, or ginger to the melted butter used to brush the fruit with. Since fruit is naturally high in sugar you won’t typically need to add any. If you do want it sweeter you can dust the fruit with brown sugar, but be careful because sugars burn quickly and easily.
Now to really add something to grilled fruit. Try marinating them in a combination of your favorite spices and your favorite alcohols. A mixture of rum, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg will make a truly fantastic set of pineapple slices perfect for topping with vanilla ice cream. Be careful when they hit the grill, though, because the rum will cause a spectacular and immediate flare-up, something that is sure to impress the guests.
Grilled fruits have such a delicious flavor that you can add them to virtually any dish. Try grilling apple slices for your next apple pie. Or grill plums, puree them and combine with tomato sauce and jalapenos for a fruit-based barbecue sauce. Let your imagination run wild and you’ll find what a great addition grilled fruits can be.