Roasted apples being mashed into applesauce (photo by James Ransom)Their warm scent and affinity for other autumn flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg make cooked fall fruits the official perfume of the season. Sure, they're delightful in pies, crumbles, tarts, and crisps, but why not skip the pastry altogether and head straight for the cozy core? Today, we’re taking a journalistic approach and addressing the who, what, where, when, why, and how of roasting fall fruits.
Who Should Roast Fruit
Anyone feeling fatigued by the abundance of apple pies or interested in cutting down on rich pastry dough intake.
Anyone interested in bulking up the fruit end of the diet with something warm.
Anyone seeking new ways to enjoy homemade staples like applesauce.
Anyone bored with plain old chocolate sauce on sundaes. (Roasted grape compote is a revelation!)
What Fruit to Roast
Concentrate on fall fruits now (you have all year to hone your fruit roasting skills with other seasonal specialties).
Figs, grapes, apples, pears, quinces, and persimmons are all excellent roasting candidates.
Use recipes for out-of-season roasted fruit to inspire your autumn repertoire. This Rum-Spiked Roasted Caramelized Mango from Food52 would work beautifully with fresh figs.
Where to Roast Fruit
Roast fruit in a hot oven -- at least 375 degrees.
If you’re amped for maximizing caramelization, put the dish of fruit under the broiler during the last five minutes of cooking.
When to Enjoy Roasted Fruit
Roasted fruit works in sweet and savory preparations at any time of day. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Stir roasted grapes into cooked oatmeal or munch on a yogurt-filled roasted (and cooled) apple for a fruit-forward breakfast.
Grain salads (a lunchtime workhorse) take kindly to roasted fruit additions, but you can also try mashing roasted apples into homemade mayonnaise for an extraordinary sandwich spread (try it with wafer-thin ham and arugula).
Add quince or apple wedges to the pan before roasting large cuts of meat (bonus: a fruity au jus!).
Top a slice of chewy whole grain bread with a layer of fresh goat cheese and a smattering of roasted fresh figs.
Why Roast Fruit
Roasting concentrates the fruit’s natural sugars, deepening the flavor of the fruit and making underripe specimens sweeter.
Roasting is a hand-off method that yields versatile results. Smash roasted fruit into sauces or leave fruit whole for an impressive presentation.
Roasted fruits move easily from sweet territory to savory depending on their accompaniments (see tips above!).
How to Roast Fruit
Select fruit that’s ripe, but still firm -- using fruit that’s too soft will lead to the fruit steaming, which will minimize browning.
Tossing fruit with a touch of oil (olive or nut oils are nice choices), citrus juice, or a splash of wine (or rum or beer) will ensure the fruit produces a sauce during roasting.
Add a little sugar to further encourage caramelization. Dust cut sides of the fruit with raw sugar for extra crispy edges. Try mixing sugar with warm spices like cinnamon and mace before sprinkling on the fruit.
Spread fruit out in a single layer on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet to maximize browning and ensure even cooking.
Roast the fruit for 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the fruit. Roasted fruit should be tender throughout -- test for tenderness by poking cooked fruit with the tip of a paring knife. If the knife easily pierces the fruit with little resistance, it's ready.
Fall fruits with edible seeds, like figs and grapes, are excellent roasted whole.
Larger fruits like apples and pears should be cored before roasting (and stuffed, if desired), and then served whole or sliced.
Fruit should be evenly chopped to ensure even cooking.
Fruit that is cubed then roasted will have a more uniformly browned exterior and crispier exterior than fruit that is roasted whole and then chopped.
Cored apples stuffed with raisins, hazelnuts, and brown sugar, and then roasted whole.
Figs roasted with rosemary and walnut halves, served chilled with blue cheese (or goat cheese!) and crackers.
Pears roasted with cinnamon and a split vanilla bean, and then chopped and served as a compote over ice cream.
Toss quartered and seeded apples alongside a pork roast during the last 20-30 minutes of cooking.
Persimmon wedges (try underripe fuyu persimmons for best results) roasted with grated nutmeg and honey.
Roasted red grapes lightly coated in a splash of sherry vinegar and tossed with cooked farro and big flakes of Parmesan.
Tuck maple-drenched, roasted fresh cranberries into your favorite pancake batter.
Roast all the fall fruit you can get your hands on, squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the top (add a drizzle of honey, if necessary) and serve as an elegant warm fruit salad.
Apples Baked in Cider [Food52] (photo by Jennifer Causey)
Roasted Apples and Parsnips
Roasted Salmon and Grapes
Baked Apples Stuffed with Cranberries and Almonds
Ham and Roasted Pear Crostini
Roasted Pears with Espresso Mascarpone Cream
Roasted Figs in a Red Wine Cardamom-Infused Reduction with Vanilla Ice Cream [Food52]
Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce [Food52] (pictured at top of page)
How do you like to serve roasted fall fruits? Share your cooking tips and ideas in the comments section below.