Since large quantities of fruits are eaten raw, it is necessary that they be handled in the most sanitary manner if disease from their use be prevented. However, they are often in an unsanitary condition when they reach the housewife. For instance, they become contaminated from the soiled hands of the persons who handle them, from the dirt deposited on them during their growth, from the fertilizer that may be used on the soil, from flies and other insects that may crawl over them, and from being stored, displayed, or sold in surroundings where they may be exposed to the dirt from streets and other contaminating sources. Because of the possibility of all these sources of contamination, it is essential that fruits that are not to be cooked be thoroughly washed before they are eaten. It is true that a certain amount of flavor or food material may be lost from the washing, but this is of little importance compared with the possibility of preventing disease.
The manner of washing fruits depends largely on the nature of the fruit. Fruits that have a sticky surface, such as raisins, figs, and dates, usually have to be washed in several waters. Hard fruits, such as pears, apples, plums, etc., should be washed with running water. Berries and softer fruits require more careful procedure, it usually being advisable to pour them into a pan containing water and then, after stirring them around in the water until all dirt is removed, take them from the water, rather than pour the water from them. In any event, all fruits eaten raw should be properly washed.
While the serving of fruits is a simple matter, it should be done in as dainty a way as possible, so as not to detract from their natural attractiveness. If the skins are to remain on the fruits while serving, a knife, preferably a fruit knife, should be served with them, and nothing smaller than a salad plate should be used. The carefully washed leaves of the fruit served make an attractive garnish. For instance, large, perfect strawberries with the stems on, when heaped on a plate garnished with strawberry leaves and served with a small dish of powdered sugar, are always attractive. Likewise, a bunch of grapes served on grape leaves never fails to attract.
A mixture of a number of fruits, such as peaches, pears, and plums, or, in winter, oranges, bananas, and apples, piled in a large bowl and passed after salad plates have been distributed, not only makes an excellent dessert, but permits the persons served to take their choice.
Fresh berries, sliced peaches, bananas, oranges, etc. may be served in sauce dishes, which should be placed on a service plate. They may be passed or served from a bowl by the hostess. Canned or stewed fruits may be served in the same way.