Today’s customer wants food that is both fresh and flavorful, and fruit naturally fits the bill.

Nature’s candy is close to perfect when eaten on its own, but put in the hands of chefs, it has the chance to become something extraordinary and irresistible. Breakfast and dessert applications are a given, but the wave of culinary creativity that elevated this trend has moved fruit into all menu categories, and has even bridged the gap between sweet and savory cooking. With renewed interest in the fruit category, consumers are seeking out new adventurous tastes through surprising preparations, and are also expanding their field of vision to include “exotic” fruits that are quickly becoming mainstream.

 

An easy way to begin experimenting with fruit is to explore what you already have in your pantry.

Globally, fruit is often paired with different spices to create a strong flavor contrast that is both exciting and memorable. In Latin America, sweet tropical fruits are often accented with spicy ground chili peppers. In Asia, fruits are stirred into long-simmering curries, or tossed into stir-fries for a bright pop of flavor. Try playing with a flavor you’re already very familiar with—black pepper. Its fragrant bite adds a new dimension to fruits both sweet and sour.

 

Try taking some cues from vegetarian cuisine, where fruit obviously plays a significant role in the diet.

Tropical jackfruit is a popular meat substitute thanks to its toothsome texture, as well as it’s neutral flavor when underripe. Consider it a blank slate of sorts that you can layer big flavors on top of, like sauces and glazes. Try our vegan-friendly “pulled pork” taco that even the staunchest carnivore would love.

Smoothies are big business, and as such have become quite a bit fancier than they once were. It’s easy to elevate classic beverages—like orange juice—by pairing them with trendy items, like coconut milk, or barely-mainstream exotic fruit like papaya. One-up it again by bringing in your newfound fruit-and-spice pairing skills to create one-of-a-kind menu options that will set you apart from your competitors.