Four fruits to put in the smoker, five to avoid

Fruit is traditionally the perfect grab-and-go snack with no cooking required, but if you expose it to a little heat, it can take on a completely different texture. Watermelon and pineapple can take to a hot grill the same way that a piece of steak will, with a blackened sear that takes in the charcoal flavour.

Chuck’s Food Shack comes in with another edition of the occasional project: Will it Smoke? The results are eye-opening. Nine fruits were selected and smoked all the same way: 25 minutes of smoke on apple wood over lump hardwood charcoal, with the off-set device set to about 250 degrees.

Avocados: The fat takes on smoke, and there’s about 20 grams of it in your typical avocado, so expectations were high. The fruit took on a nice brown char after 25 minutes, and the heat melted the inside to a creamy consistency that could easily be consumed with a spoon. It might not be the prettiest dish, but this was a successful enough test that I think smoked guacamole could and should be a thing.

Grapes: Yes, you absolutely can smoke grapes, but the end result was a love it or hate it creation. Some tasters thought the grapes exploded with smoke on the back end. Oddly enough, whole smoked grapes (red seedless were used) fared far better than halved ones that turned rubbery.

Mangoes: Leave the skin on the mango and cut it into three or four big chunks. Mangoes are delicious on their own, but the smoke and heat turned the fruit into a delicious treat that took on a parfait-like consistency.

Peaches: One of my favourite fruits to grill is also a standout on the smoker, taking it all in like a sponge. Halve the peaches and place them skin-side down. After 25 minutes, the peaches are tanned, caramelized and the skin can be peeled off with a slight tug of the thumb. This will be a regular thing during my future cooks, and it was the best out of everything tested.

Pineapple: If it weren’t for the 25-minute limitation, I would be tempted to smoke a whole pineapple for four to five hours. With the time limit, I went the sliced route, and it was a winner. The slices took on a gooey glaze, and fell just short of the peaches as the best of the bunch.

Strawberries: Strawberries were halved to produce more opportunity for the smoke to penetrate. On the palate, the berries at first tasted fresh and held that distinct strawberry flavour, but after about 15 seconds, the puff of smoke hit the back of the throat. It’s probably best to leave them be.

Grapefruit: The grapefruit was cut up into half-inch slices so the smoke could hit it from both sides. The pink center showed signs that it was taking it in, but after a taste, the powerful citrus elements drowned out the smoke. Oranges, lemons and limes would probably behave similarly.

Watermelon: Slices of watermelon, brushed with olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt, are fantastic on a hot grill and will take on the sear like a good steak. The smoker yielded results that weren’t so spectacular, and it simply tasted like warmed watermelon that looked like it was a victim of culinary torture.

Bananas: I have a feeling that the peeled bananas fell victim to the trial conditions, and needed more time to develop (at least 15 additional minutes). Bananas have such a distinct flavour and hearty texture, the smoke wasn’t able to alter it much. The fruit did take on some nice grill marks.


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