It would be a great saving of time and work, give a pleasing variety to bills of fare, and be above all a great promoter of health, if people would use ripe fruit abundantly in its season at their tables (not between meals). With the markets bountifully supplied with many varieties of fruit, it is to be regretted that it cannot be found at every table at least once a day. Much of the money spent for some kinds of meat would be better expended for fruit. A simple course of fruit is all that is needed after a dinner, and is much more wholesome than pies. But it is so hard for some people to break away from old customs that it will be long before housekeepers generally will be content to serve the queen of all fruits, the apple, in its natural state instead of making it into the "persistent pie," over the preparation of which many women toil, for naught save the fear that they may be considered shiftless if they have n't a pie in the house.
Ripe fruit is especially appropriate at the breakfast-table, and may be taken before or after the principal dishes, according to individual needs and taste. Some people require the acid of oranges or grapes before they can eat anything substantial; others might be made ill by their use at that time, but be benefited by them afterwards.
All fruit should be served as fresh and cold as possible. A dish of fruit which has been kept from day to day in a warm room may answer for an ornament, but it is not tempting to the palate. Only sound, fresh fruit should appear at the table.
Apples for table use should have a pleasant spicy flavor, not too acid, and should be wiped clean, or polished if you prefer the street-vender's style.
Oranges may be served whole or cut. Many slice them across the sections; but the presence of the seeds and tough inner skin is objectionable. A better way is to remove all the rind and white skin, divide into sections, then with the point of a silver fruit-knife cut off the inner skin in the middle, slip out the seeds, and cut each section into three pieces. Never serve with the seeds left in, nor sweeten until just before serving. A neat way to peel an orange is to cut the rind from the ends and leave a strip round the middle, then open, leaving the sections on the strip of peel. Or cut the oranges in halves crosswise without peeling, sprinkle with sugar, and eat with a spoon.
Grapes, Malagas especially, should be carefully rinsed in cold water, then drained. Fruit scissors should be used to divide the clusters.
Bananas may be served whole, or sliced and slightly sweetened or salted.
Peaches should have the wool wiped off, or if pared and quartered should be sprinkled with fine granulated sugar, and served at once.
Strawberries, if gritty, should be rinsed and drained, then hulled, and not sweetened till served. Large selected berries may be served with the stems on. Pass sugar with them, that those who prefer may roll them in it.
Currants should be sweetened, and large whole clusters may be served on the stem. Currants and raspberries are delicious when served together.
Watermelons should be served very cold. Cut off a slice at each end, that each half may stand upright. Serve the core only, taking it out with a tablespoon in cone-shaped pieces. Other melons should have the seeds removed before serving, be cut in halves, a lump of ice in each, and served with sugar or salt.
Pare, remove the eyes, and cut in thin slices; then remove the fibrous centre, and serve in slices, or cut the tender parts into small pieces and sweeten to taste. Or pare and pull off the tender part with a fork, as directed for preserved pineapple.
Dip selected fruit into the white of egg slightly beaten, then roll in fine granulated sugar. Dry, and serve very cold.
Whole fruit should be served in a high dish, garnished with green leaves, flowers, or vines, and, with a tasteful combination of colors, arranged in a convenient way for serving.
Nuts should be cracked, and served with salt.
Almonds and other nuts having a tough inner skin should be blanched.
Use only choice varieties, and serve with nuts.
8 sweet oranges. 1 cocoanut, grated. 6 red bananas.
1 glass sherry wine, or ¼ cup lemon juice. Powdered sugar to taste.
Peel the oranges, divide into sections, and remove the seeds and tough membrane. Put a layer of orange in the bottom of a glass dish, pour over it a little wine or lemon juice, and strew with powdered sugar; add cocoanut, and then the banana cut in thin slices; repeat the process, using orange, cocoanut, banana, etc., as before. The top layer is to be heaped high in the centre, and sprinkled thickly with cocoanut and powdered sugar, and garnished around the base with slices of banana.