Short cuts for the fruit part of fruit tart?
March 13, 2018 4:46 AM   Subscribe

My "pie" is going to be fruit tarts. I'm making four. Any shortcuts for the fruit? Can I stretch my fruit with something, since everything I normally use is out of season right now? Goals: Easier/faster, more cost effective.

Crust is cookie crumb; two will be gingerbread, two will be Oreo. Filling will be an eggless pudding, vanilla flavor. Normally I put basic fruit on top--strawberries (sliced), raspberries, blueberries--but with standard out-of-season supermarket fruit this takes ages to pick out the good fruit and slice up the strawberries, and then there's a lot of waste since most of the fruit is NOT good, and it's expensive since most of it gets thrown out. (Note: My coworkers do enjoy my normal, basic fruit tart.)

I'm considering stretching my normal fruit with something like a small package of cling peach chunks, maybe some mandarin orange slices... Melon slices...? I don't know, even maraschino cherries are looking plausible right now. Good idea? Horrible idea? Got a better idea?
posted by anaelith to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about a compote with whatever inferior fruit you can find? It's literally a matter of putting it in a pan and adding some spices. If you want to go the tinned fruit route then tinned peaches seem best for what you are making, but I wouldn't mix them up with fresh fruits.
posted by tavegyl at 4:54 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Some thinly sliced mangoes might be good, depending on the quality you can get. Starfruit? Kiwi?
posted by Fig at 4:58 AM on March 13, 2018

Blueberries tend to be fairly robust, so unless your usual selection is pretty terrible it seems like a safer choice than the strawberries or raspberries. How about sliced bananas, with lemon juice brushed on to prevent browning? You could also halve grapes. For extra fanciness, you could use pomegranate seeds. I think canned fruit might be a bit watery, but subbing in a lemon curd or other jam might be nice.
posted by prewar lemonade at 5:03 AM on March 13, 2018

Canned apricot maybe could work, if you slice the apricot thinly; it's usually in syrup, so not watery, and the tartness would keep it from being too saccharine despite said syrup. Scatter some nice raspberries on top, if you can find them. Canned pear could be nice with the ginger crust.
posted by halation at 5:09 AM on March 13, 2018

Buy a couple nice jars of fruit curd--lemon or mandarin, which are usually easy to find, or passionfruit or raspberry if you're real lucky. Blob them on top, swirl them with the pudding, then add fruit for decorative purposes as desired.
posted by mishafletch at 5:19 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Some varieties of pears are still reasonably good where I am, and could be poached in a flavored sugar syrup liquid that complements the crust. It'd be a step up, niceness-wise, from just using tinned fruit.

You could also slice lemons thinly, cook them (gently) in sugar syrup, and then lay them on top.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:32 AM on March 13, 2018

Try apples thinly sliced and gently poached in fruit juice and spices. For extra pretty, do two differently colored juices, like a cran-raspberry for red, white grape for "clear", apricot nectar for orange, etc with whatever whole spices you like, such as a cinnamon stick or star anise. (Use whole spices so they're really easy to remove and no little chunks get stuck to the apple slices.) Then you can make patterns with two different colors of apples, very fancy!

If you can find them, persimmons make incredible fruit tarts. Strawberries are just coming into season in NA so you might luck out. A fully strawberry tart is a treat, don't feel compelled to mix in less tasty fruit just for variety. I think entirely strawberry would be especially yum with the oreo crust.
posted by Mizu at 5:46 AM on March 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

My filler fruit is usually kiwi -- they're generally pretty cheap and if you slice them thinly they're pretty and they take up a lot of space, plus you don't have to pick through them like you do with berries.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:50 AM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

You can use frozen berries. Just defrost them and drain them really well first. They are slightly more squishy, but I've done it and it works. Strawberries and blueberries hold their shape after freezing better than some others, I've found.
posted by lollusc at 6:23 AM on March 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

We've been having really good luck with good grocery store mangoes recently, I'd look at them. I've seen canned pineapple on fruit tarts before. Poached pear would be lovely.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:27 AM on March 13, 2018

Frozen strawberries. They taste great. Make strawberry glaze, add gently blended frozen strawberries, use fresh strawberries to decorate.
posted by theora55 at 7:01 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

You don't have to use gelatin to make glaze, just crushed fruit, cornstarch, and sugar. Strawberries ought to be plentiful, since Florida, Mexico, and California are flush with them just now. Get whateverberries, pluck out the few good ones, cut the rot off the blemished ones and cook with sugar and cornstarch 'til thick, cool, glaze the tart, plonk the good berries in the middle, done.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:10 AM on March 13, 2018

I think banana-kiwi-blueberry would be a tasty, attractive, reasonably affordable combo that minimizes fiddliness.
posted by drlith at 8:34 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Whatever you use, make sure it's dry, dry, dry, like patted with paper towels. Otherwise you end up with puddles on the surface. Don't sprinkle sugar on it until ready to serve, since that causes the fruit to weep.

One fruit that might work is canned cherries in syrup. Drain and dry the cherries, and boil down the syrup to a thick glaze to drizzle over the top. A sprinkling of shredded coconut on top is a lovely garnish.
posted by citygirl at 8:38 AM on March 13, 2018

Citrus is in season right now.
posted by asphericalcow at 8:41 AM on March 13, 2018

Call a local bakery that sells fruit tarts and see if they will sell you pre-sliced, picked over berries and fruit. They'll have access to more and better quality fruits than you can find at a grocery store.

Other than that, Oregon brand canned fruit is super high quality and makes a lovely compote. You can also boil it with cornstarch and sugar if you want a more 'pie-filling' style topping. Their sour cherry is my favorite for this.
posted by ananci at 11:45 AM on March 13, 2018

I like Johnny Assay's answer -- lemon is great with gingerbread. Candied lemon slices would look great, too. You can buy or make lemon curd instead if you're wary of bitter lemon skin.

I also second the suggestions to used frozen fruit.
posted by wryly at 2:05 PM on March 13, 2018

The fruit tarts I get from the bakery often have a slice or two of canned Mandarin orange, plus some kiwi as suggested above.
posted by Lady Li at 11:51 PM on March 13, 2018

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