When it comes to fruit decorating a simple strawberry is the cat’s meow for getting the job done quickly and easily. Whether you are trying to add a garnish to an individual plate or enhance the look of a large platter of foods a strawberry will do the job nicely.
The first thing you can do is the fan. Pick out 8 to 10 large strawberries from the pint you just bought. Wash them carefully and set them on the cutting board. For this garnish we will leave the stem on. Take a small tapered paring knife and make a series of parallel cuts in the berry, by holding on to the stem end and pulling the knife back toward you. You do this by pointing your knife down, inserting it just below the stem all the way through the berry to the board and then come straight back toward yourself. Move over and make another cut about 1/8th of an inch away identical to the first.
Continue across the berry, each time inserting the blade completely through to the board and pulling down and back. You will find that you can usually make at least 6 to 8 cuts. When you finish you will have several parallel slices that are all still attached to the stem. Now you simply push gently near the top of the berry to the left or right and the strawberry will flatten and resemble a fan. You can exaggerate this a little more by gently pinching it between your thumb and forefinger.
This will go great as an individual fruit decoration to a plate or it can be used to accent your fruit or dessert platter. You can sprinkle a hint of sugar on this to make it glisten and put on a lemon leaf if you want to get really fancy.
A variation of this technique will build a Mumm-like flower. Pick out the largest strawberry from the pint. Wash it and lay it stem side down. Now as you look down on it start on the outside edges and make a cut near the point of the berry as it looks up to you. Slice down with the tip of your blade staying just below the surface of the strawberry skin. You need to go deep enough to get a nice layer, but not too deep as you will be coming back to find a second layer in a moment.
For your first cut you simply want to expose a section by following the contour down until you are close to the stem. Do not cut entirely through. Next move over and make another cut; again following the contour and stopping short of cutting all the way through the berry. Each time you make a cut you are looking to expose about a 1/6th of the total circle of the strawberry. Also as your knife reaches the bottom of your cut, gently twist the blade outwards from the center to make the “Petal” drape outwards.
After you have gone around the outside with 4, 5 or 6 slices you can try to get a few more slices from the inside. The color will be changing from red to pink and then white. You can probably get four more cuts in the pinkish white area if you left your outside cuts thin enough. If I have enough left over when I get to this point I will then make two downward cuts (like an X) through the middle of the berry to expose the white center. This will yield a beautiful center piece Mumm style flower for that special place on your platter.
I will be posting a video in the next day or two.