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Cooking Tips

Why We’re Grilling Fruit This Summer

Food writer and editor Helen Graves shares some tips for achieving perfectly charred fruit on the grill, plus a recipe from her new cookbook, ‘Live Fire’

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The nectarines were mushy. I was testing a recipe from Live Fire, a new cookbook from Pit magazine editor Helen Graves, which requires these sweet, juicy fruits to be grilled until charred, chopped up, mixed with tarragon and basil, and served with thick, chunky strips of grilled halloumi. My fatal mistake, I learned when speaking with Graves after, was that I used nectarines that were too ripe—too juicy and thus, too mushy when grilled. “You should look for something that’s still firm, but with some ripeness,” she says. “It requires some practice because sometimes you need to adjust the cooking time of the recipe if the fruit is too ripe or add honey to overcompensate for a firmer fruit that’s still a little tart.” Noted: the best fruit for grilling is one that is probably less ripe than what you might eat out of hand, one that can hold up to a high heat that will caramelize its natural sugars. Even with softer-than-usual nectarines, the dish was superb, the sweet herby fruit salad playing well with the chewy, salty cheese.

Live Fire book cover
(Photo: Courtesy Hardie Grant)

Live Fire offers plenty of these in-the-know tips on every step of the outdoor grilling experience, from starting a grill to sourcing spices. While there’s no shortage of adventurous and delicious meat recipes, I was mostly drawn to Graves’ veg- and fruit-forward dishes, including charred tomatoes with garlic yogurt and pomegranate molasses and a whole barbecued pumpkin stuffed with beer and sage fondue—a dish title that almost requires multiple exclamation points after it. “The vegetarian recipes have been the most popular with people on social media,” Graves says. “Which is interesting because usually, my meat recipes are the draw.”

Below, Graves shares a recipe from Live Fire for a smoked cherry sundae. While it calls for fresh cherries, she says that frozen will also work. “Larger frozen fruits are usually too soft to grill, but frozen cherries would be fine in this recipe because the whole goal is to make them collapse anyway.” My tip? Save money (and time pitting the fresh cherries) and go frozen. Put those dollars towards a fancy ice cream.

Click here for the recipe.

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