How We Eat is a weekly column from Julie Van Rosendaal exploring food trends, news and of-the-moment recipes.
There are plenty of food trends that start their lives on social media, where 20-second videos encapsulate simple ideas and techniques that are easy to remember and apply to our day-to-day cooking and eating routines. Occasionally I see something that makes me wonder why I’ve never thought of it before – such as freezing juicy fruit whole or in pieces and grating it into a snowy, granita-like fruit ice that can be served for dessert, breakfast or a quick, icy snack.
With a better nutritional profile than many frozen sweets, fruit ice is also a great way to minimize food waste since it needs fewer ingredients, and no preserving technique is easier than tossing produce into the freezer whole, skin and all. I do this with tomatoes, to either grate for a quick tomato purée or toss, whole or chopped, into soups, stews, curries and sauces. In the freezer, the moisture in a fruit or vegetable expands, breaking its cellular structure so that it has a different, softer texture once it thaws. (In the case of large tomatoes, freezing also splits its skin, so you can easily peel it away if you like.) Freezing fruit that’s a bit pulpy, verging on overripe or just surplus – perhaps you’ve bought too much at its peak and you know you won’t manage to eat it all before it starts to compost into a fruit-fly habitat on your kitchen counter – makes for easy smoothies, but I love the idea of grating it onto or alongside something creamy, such as whipped cream or sour cream sweetened with brown sugar, or crème fraîche, or yogurt for breakfast, and topping it with a drizzle of something sweet and a scattering of something crunchy.
Stone fruits are ideal for freezing whole, and they are in season right now – peaches, nectarines and apricots will freeze a little firmer, and the acidity and sugar content of plums, my favourite (and highly underappreciated) fall fruit, makes them sweet-tart and a little more intense. Their frozen texture is slightly easier to grate, which is a perfect technique if you’re feeding babies (it melts into a smooth purée) or when hosting people of all ages, because it is fast and fancy-ish if you want something a little more interesting for a crowd. Add a drizzle of maple syrup, or season some sweetened condensed milk with a squeeze of lime, and top it with something crunchy, such as chopped nuts, bashed cookies, or granola if you’re eating it for breakfast.
Frozen Fruit Ice for Breakfast, Snacking or Dessert
Pop any juicy fruit into the freezer whole to grate into a granita-like fruit ice. Larger fruits, such as peaches, nectarines and plums, will be easier to grate than grapes or cherries, which could alternatively be blitzed in a food processor. Cut watermelon or other melon into chunks that you can grate while holding the rind end.
- whipped cream or sour cream, sweetened with brown sugar, or yogurt or crème fraîche
- peaches, nectarines, plums and grapes, washed and frozen whole, or sticks or wedges of melon, frozen
- pure maple syrup or sweetened condensed milk spiked with lime
- chopped toasted nuts or seeds
- crushed cookies (homemade, or gingersnaps or Biscoff) or granola
- fresh mint or edible flowers, for garnish (optional)
Spread your sweetened whipped cream, yogurt or crème fraîche into a shallow serving bowl (or bowls) or onto a platter, if you want to serve it family-style. Grate your fruit on the coarse side of a box grater into a pile over the cream.
Drizzle with maple syrup or sweetened condensed milk spiked with lime, and sprinkle with chopped nuts or bashed cookies or granola. Garnish with fresh mint or edible flowers, if you like.