Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vegetables used in Vegetable Carvings

Vegetables used in Carvings

The Art of Fruit and Vegetable Carving is very interesting and challenging, and the choice right Vegetables and Fruits will effect the decoration. Also important is the way the vegetables and fruits are prepared , stored and used before and after carving. This will effect the proper presentation and decoration of the art. In this post we will deal with the vegetables used for carving.

Here are some useful tips and suggestions on selection of Fruits and vegetables for carving, and also special tips about preparation of these fruits and vegetables before carving to get optimum results.

Each kind of fruit and vegetable has its own unique characteristics, so keep these pointers in mind when choosing fruits and vegetables to carve. A brief description of each Vegetable and is given besides an Image provided for the benefit of those who are not aware of certain fruits and vegetables used for such carving.

Asparagus: A perennial, asparagus are spear-like shoots that come in three main varieties: green, the most common; white, for which the green variety is field blanched; and purple, an extra sweet and tender variety that turns green when cooked. These can be used in various ways to decorate the presentation.

Broccoli: Broccoli grows in thick green stalks topped with umbrella-shaped clusters of dark green florets. These compete against Cauliflower in uses in decoration due to the variety of colors available, and the great color effect they have on the decoration.

Potatoes: These tubers come in three main types: baking potatoes, the most starchy, which become dry and fluffy when cooked; boiling potatoes, the least starchy; and all-purpose potatoes. Any variety harvested before it develops its full amount of starch is considered a new potato. Sweet Potatoes are also used in a very nice way to create great shapes as will be seen above.

Cabbages: Cabbage’s tightly layered leaves form a compact head surrounded by darker outer leaves. Common varieties are green, red, crinkly Savoy, Chinese, bok choy, and Napa. Cabbages are generally interchangeable in recipes, although Chinese cabbages cook in less time. Some of the variety of cabbages are shown above in the images. They add color to the presentation.

Beets are a root crop with round red or gold flesh. Beet leaves are also edible. The beet and the leaves both contribute to the presentation.

Carrots come in orange (by far the most common), purple and red varieties. They vary from long tapers to small round balls. Some of the variety are shown above. Purple as well.

Cucumbers: Slicing cucumbers usually have smooth skins and are long, round cylinders with a sweet flavor. Long, slender English cucumbers (also called Dutch or Japanese) have thin skins and contain few seeds. Cucumbers are best used in various presentations of Fruit and Vegetable carvings.

Eggplants: Eggplant is a tear-shaped, usually purple-black vegetable. Its fleshy and substantive texture makes it a good replacement for meat. Asian eggplant, a more slender variety, is typically sweeter. Due to the various colors available these vegetables make excellent material for carvings .

Leeks: This sweet, subtly-flavored onion relative is often used for seasoning but can also be served as a vegetable on its own. Ramps are a wild variety of leek. A good use of these can be made for decoration and even shaping various works. Simple thins slices can add to the beauty!

Lettuce: Lettuce varieties abound. Most head lettuces and looseleaf lettuces have relatively mild flavors, and vary in appearance, color, and texture. Other leafy greens used for salad include romaine, arugula, curly endive, frisee, chicory, and watercress; these are more intensely-flavored. Each of these varieties can be used for a different purpose and shape of decoration.

Mesclun: is a blend of lettuces, herbs and tender young greens usually used for salads. The flavor can vary from mild, if it’s mostly lettuces, to peppery, if more arugula, chicory, cresses, frisee, radicchio, and mustard greens are included. The variation in colors and shapes makes for an attractive presentation.

Mushrooms: Edible varieties of this fungus include button, cremini, portobello, shiitake, oyster, and chanterelle. Dried mushrooms are available year round. How to use the mushroom, whether whole or cut is an art the Chef can master during his work.

Okra: or sometimes also called as Ladies Finger - Okra is a green, fuzzy, deeply ridged pod. Most common in warmer climates, it can also be grown in cooler areas if the proper variety and cultivation techniques are used. This vegetable can be used in may ways to decorate a presentation.

Onions: Besides being a major ingredient in cooking, Onions play a big role in Vegetable and fruit carving presentations. Varieties of this bulb vegetable include yellow, red (milder and sweeter), white, pearl, Spanish (very mild), and sweet onions. Other members of the onion family include green onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, and garlic scapes.

Parsnips: Parsnips, a root vegetable, look like creamy white carrots. They have a sweet, nutty flavor. Though not much seen in conventional Vegetable carvings, they could add a different dimension to the presentation if used.

Peas: Three main types are available. Shell peas need to be removed from a pod before eating. Sugarsnap peas have sweet, edible pods and peas. Snow peas are an edible young flat pod with immature peas inside. These can be used as whole, shelled or even the outer pods for decoration and presentation.

Peppers: One of the most vibrant colors and useful vegetables, both in cooking and decoration or carving. Peppers fall into two basic categories: sweet and hot. Sweet peppers can be green, red, orange, yellow, or purple. Green ones are actually unripe and have a stronger flavor. Hot peppers (chilies) range from relatively mild poblanos to astoundingly hot habañeros.

Pumpkins: They are the most versatile vegetables that can be used for vegetable carving. Pumpkins come in various sizes (traditionally round) and colors (traditionally orange). Some have been especially developed for pie making and seed roasting. Smaller pumpkins are generally better for cooking.

Spinach: Though this leaf could not be used much for carving, it can add a dash of color and spice to the presentation. Spinach is a leafy green. Curly spinach requires cooking. Flat-leaf spinach is sweeter and more tender, so it can be used for cooking or salads. Tatsoi, an Asian vegetable, may substitute for spinach in cooking. Baby spinach is very tender and is ideal for salads.

The most colorful vegetable in a decoration this adds a lot of getup to the presentation. Tomatoes come in several colors (red, orange, yellow, and green) and shapes (round, plum, and cherry). Yellow and orange ones are often lower in acid content than the more common red. They can be found in a lot of shapes and colors and hence used in various forms.

Turnips: Though sparingly used in vegetable carving this can add color of a different kind to the decoration as they come in various hues and colors. When young and fresh, these half-white, half-purple root vegetables range in flavor from very sweet to a little peppery; older ones can be hot and bitter.

Cauliflower though white mostly can be used for wonderful centrepiece decorations if the Chef knows how to use it. Cauliflower grows in a compact head shielded from sunlight by its outer leaves, so it doesn’t develop chlorophyll and thus remains white. Broccoflower, a cauliflower-broccoli hybrid, grows in a head like cauliflower but is green like broccoli. It cooks more quickly and has a milder flavor than white cauliflower. Cauliflower is also available in various colors.

Corn: Available in a variety of colors Corn can be use not for carving but for decoration either with its pods or with the cob itself. Sweet corn (as opposed to field corn) may be white, yellow, or bicolor, with a sweetness level of regular, sugar enhanced, or super sweet. A sample of the normal yellow sweet corn and the Bi-color Corn is seen above.

Yam Bean Tubers Taro
The above are also used for vegetable fruit caring in some presentations.

Shallots, both dry as well as spring shallots are used for a variety of decorations.

Spur Chillies: Spur Chillies can be used a a great decoration vegetable especially as they come in varies colors, and be carved as is seen above in the image.

Artichokes could be a wonderful vegetable for decoration, and both be used as a while as well as cut in half.

Various other vegetables such a bitter gourd, snake gourd, and others can be used for vegetable decoration, but it takes a lot of study, in preparation, presentation, and storage of these vegetables to be able to use them for decoration. We will try and present you more such vegetables as and when we collect the desired information about the. Till then, continue with your art and develop the best of the presentations.
Happy Carving!

No comments:

Post a Comment