Fruitful information -- dried fruits, measuring whole fruit, and help for sectioning citrus.
Dates and figs: Dates and figs come in lots of forms. Just remember, when a recipe calls for "snipped dates," use cut-up whole dates, not the sugar-coated dates. You can find figs in light or dark varieties.
Apples, apricots, pears, peaches, mangoes, etc.: These dried fruits can be used whole or chopped.
Berries and cherries: Dried cranberries, blueberries, and cherries have a very sweet taste and chewy texture. These small, flavor-packed gems can be used in breads, desserts, and pies -- anywhere you might expect to find raisins.
Candied fruits: During the holiday season, supermarkets stock up on candied fruits. Use candied fruit to add color and flavor to fruitcakes, quick breads, and cookies.
Candied fruits are available as citron, peels, mixed fruit, cherries, pineapple, apricots, mango, and papaya.
Raisins and currants: In terms of baking, the main point of difference between raisins and currants is their size (currants are smaller than raisins). Both have dark brown, wrinkly skin and are very sweet.
- 1 pound apples = 4 small, 3 medium, or 2 large, 2 1/4 cups sliced, or 2 cups chopped
- 1 pound apricots = 8 to 12 whole or 2 1/2 cups sliced
- 1 pound bananas = 4 small or 3 medium, 2 cups sliced, or 1 cup mashed
- 1 medium lemon = 3 tablespoons juice, 2 teaspoons shredded peel
- 1 pound pears = 3 medium, 3 1/2 cups sliced, or 3 cups chopped
To section a citrus fruit...
- With a sharp paring knife, remove peel and white rind.
- Working over a bowl to catch the juice, cut into the center of the fruit between one section and the membrane.
- Turn the knife and slide it along the other side of the section, next to the membrane, carefully cutting outward.
Zest refers to the outermost, intensely perfumed, colored layer of citrus peel. It does not include the white pith, which is bitter.
There are several ways to shred citrus peel...
- Box grater
- Citrus zester: has a stainless-steel edge with a series of cutting holes that strip off fine, threadlike pieces of peel
- Microplane zester: allows for the shredding of tiny, uniform pieces of peel faster and with less pressure than a regular grater or zester.