Fresh fruit—the healthy and tasty anytime snack for the whole family—is just as popular now as it was years ago. Maybe even more so, as we are all encouraged to increase our intake of fruits and vegetables. A fresh bowl of fruit on the counter is not only a beautiful centerpiece but can also entice everyone to make better eating choices throughout the day. Ideally, we need to make these fresh snacks easy to spot and grab, but keeping the bowl and contents fresh is another matter.
Choose the Right Bowl
Using a bowl that is attractive will add to the beauty of the fruit bowl, but it is important that the bowl itself is functional when it comes to helping keep the fruit fresh. Any fruit bowl can be a vessel for fresh fruit, but the styles that permit better air circulation all around, including under the fruit, can help maintain freshness. Plastic or stainless bowls tend to make the fruit sweat, which can speed up the deterioration process. It is better to choose a ceramic or, preferably, a wire mesh bowl. It is also wise not to choose a large bowl that looks best filled with lots of fruit as it will be difficult to manage.
You also want to remember to wash the fruit bowl at least once a week, or more often if needed, to reduce the presence of fruit flies and lower the risk of bacteria and molds. (Make sure you dry it well as moisture will lead to the fruit deteriorating.) Cleaning more than once a week may be necessary for bowls that do not allow good ventilation. It doesn't take much for a smear of rotting fruit on a dish to affect the rest of the contents.
Take Care of the Fruit
When filling the fruit bowl, keep in mind that less is better; the more crowded the fruit, the less room there is for air to circulate around each piece, which can lead to rotting. Also make sure to refresh the selection often, which will be easier and more natural if you don't overcrowd the bowl to begin with.
You also want to monitor the contents daily. Some fruit varieties decay more quickly than others and this can affect the remaining fruit in the bowl. Remove and replace decaying fruit to keep the bowl content fresh. Washing fruit before placing in a bowl can often start the decaying process, so only wash the piece of fruit right before eating (make sure to instruct all family members of this as well).
Put the Bowl in the Ideal Location
First and foremost, place your fruit bowl in a visible easy-to-see location; don't hide it on a cluttered part of the counter. This way, all family members will be reminded to have a healthy snack whenever they enter the kitchen.
To extend the shelf life of the fruit, you may want to refrigerate your fruit bowl at night. Why leave fresh fruit out in room temperature when everyone is sleeping? Keeping the fruit cool overnight will cause it to last longer.
In warm climates where kitchens are considerably above comfortable room temperatures, you may have to keep the bowl refrigerated for long periods. In other words, only take it out of the fridge when it's close to snack time or the kids are just getting home from school. If your kitchen is too warm or fruit waste increases, keep the filled bowl on a front-and-center shelf in the refrigerator. It should be the first thing they spot when family members open the door to browse.
Fill the Fruit Bowl
As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes first. Fruit variety is key, offering various colors and shapes, as well as tastes, to satisfy everyone in the household. But some types of fruit need closer monitoring, such as berries, which will decay more quickly than an orange. And it's important to keep in mind that certain fruits such as bananas, apples, pears, and kiwi release a gas that speeds up the ripening process, so including these in your fruit bowl can lead to other fruits rotting quicker.
It is also a good idea to think outside the traditional fruit bowl selection to keep things interesting. Including a lemon may encourage the kids to add slices to their water glass, and may lead to their drinking more water. An assortment of small cracker packages or nuts mixed in with fruit can also be a welcome treat.
If you find that the fresh fruit bowl just isn't working out—maybe it's too warm and the fruit decays too quickly—consider a covered container of dehydrated fruit or nuts to provide healthy snacks for the whole family to enjoy.