Vitamined, fresh and colorful, the fruit salad is a must at the end of the meal. You still have to prepare it properly. Instructions with Catherine Botti, Meilleur Ouvrier de France primeur.
Do not protect the fruits from oxidation, season them too much or even neglect the cutting… While, in the collective imagination, its preparation is akin to child’s play, there are actually many bad habits to avoid to make “a beautiful fruit salad, fresh, seasonal and nicely presented”. Advice and tips from Catherine Botti, Meilleur Ouvrier de France primeur 2015, at the head of the fruit and vegetable store Botti Fruits in Chambéry (1).
Choose any fruit
A little reminder is in order: to make a good fruit salad, it is imperative to respect the seasonality of the products used. “In general, I make my salads according to colors or by category of fruit. For example, in the spring and during the summer, I often make red fruit salads, or very simple combinations such as peach, nectarine and apricot, or yellow melon, green and the traditional Charentais”.
Do not protect fruits from oxidation
Each fruit is unique. Some, more sensitive than others to their environment, require more attention. This is the case of the apple and the pear. “These are not very juicy fruits so they oxidize quickly, they must be protected immediately”. To do this, many possibilities exist, and they all have their taste qualities. “You can simply use orange juice, lemon juice or lime zest”. Other tips even allow you to prepare your salad the day before: “a syrup allows you to preserve the fruit well, provided that it is not too ripe, but just enough. It is a simple mixture of sugar and water, to which spices can be added. Everything is then poured over the salad and it will be just as good the next day. Watch out for the sugar though, you just need a little.” The fleur de sel also meets the expectations of preserving the fruit, “provided you don’t have too heavy a hand”.
I don’t add sugar, the fruits contain enough as it is. What we are looking for above all is their original taste.
Catherine Botti, Best worker in France primeur
Cut fruit anyhow
Essential step, yet frequently neglected in the preparation: cutting, which differs from one fruit to another. “It all depends on his form and his maturity. In general, I cut them into small cubes of five to six millimeters, which allows you to have the flavors of each fruit in your mouth”. On the other hand, contrary to the general idea, a fruit salad is not necessarily served in a dish or in a large salad bowl, but can just as well be presented on a platter, like a carpaccio. “It’s yet another way of doing things, but once again, the cut is made according to the fruit and its maturity to bring out all its taste qualities”.
Have a heavy hand on the seasoning
This is the mistake that offends Catherine Botti the most: putting too much sugar in the fruit salad. “Personally, I don’t use it at all, the fruits are sweet enough like that. What we are looking for above all is their original taste”. For the primeur MOF, spices and aromatic herbs dethrone sugar in terms of taste, and are therefore to be preferred. “They have to go well with fruit without overpowering their scents and flavors. Personally, I like star anise or star anise, it’s very fragrant and exotic. Depending on the salad and the fruit used, I also add fresh ginger or a vanilla pod”. As for aromatic herbs, anything is possible, provided you incorporate them at the last minute. “Basil, tarragon, verbena… I also use Tagetes lucida, or Mexican tarragon, which has citrus scents”. And for an even more subtle taste, “you can make a decoction or an infusion of the chosen herbs or spices that you then add to the salad”.
A fruit, widely used in salads, should be banned. It’s the banana. “It is enough that the salad is prepared an hour before, the banana will soften and blacken”. We do without it not because of its taste explains the primeur, but because of its very accelerated oxidation. “It’s just because it’s not pretty, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. It is quite possible to cut it and add it just before the service”.
(1) Catherine Botti, Botti Fruits, Place de Genève, 73000 Chambéry. Such. : 09 66 93 92 22.