How to Prepare Good Garnishes

Garnishes are an interesting fashion trend, sometime the aim is vast complex extravaganzas, some are more simple or indeed non existent! Here's how to prepare a simple range of good garnishes.


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    Consider first the impact you want to make. Thinking about what you can do and how to do it is the most important factor and virtually anything edible can be a garnish.
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    Consider the way it has an effect. Food is very sense orientated so would your garnish add:
    • Visual impact (be it shape, colour, visual texture such as shiny or dull or finally its size)
    • Flavour impact (such chopped herbs or ground spices)
    • Scent impact (such as orange or lemon zest, fragrant herbs or garlic butter)
    • Texture impact (such as crispy croutons on a soup)
    • Or can it give a mix?
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    Consider how the garnish will be eaten. The aim of the game is to get the garnish to both improve the meal, but also be part of the meal.
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    Consider the flavour. If it doesn't taste good with the meal, there is little point to it. If it adds to, or compliments the flavours then you are going well, but incompatible flavours (such as fried crispy garlic on a dessert) or inedible garnishes could destroy a perfectly cooked meal.
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    Consider these options:
    • Lemon, orange or lime slices or half slices, wedges, segments and zest. Even the juice can be used as an aromatic if dappled around the edge of the plate or used in a dressing.
    • Chopped herbs such as parsley, basil, oregano
    • A sprinkling or a small bunch of stronger herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme or lemon grass.
    • Think about shapes. Fruits and vegetables can be cut into thin strips, slices, flowers or other shapes, and some twist interestingly (such as thin carrot shreds or slices of green spring onion leaf) when placed into iced water. Chocolate melted into a thin layer and set, as well as pastry, fondant and other moldable ingredients are easy to make shapes from.
    • For making vegetable fans, avocado, strawberries, gherkins, mango and cucumbers may be fanned easily. The simplest method for large items such as cucumber is cut them in half lengthwise, then making even cuts also lengthwise (not across the vegetable like normal slices), almost to the end, but leaving the product whole. Then using a flat knife, press gently on the sliced product applying pressure at an angle to fan out the slices.
    • Gelatin products also make a fine basis or garnish. By mixing a heated flavoured liquid such as a savoury clear beef stock, herb infusion (much like making a tea) or sweet syrups, with ordinary gelatin (the pack would give a ratio of how much to add as the products do vary). They can be clear, coloured or opaque (with adding cream), poured onto a plate and chilled on the fridge to look like a clear mirror like lake, set in a mould or cut into cubes, diamonds etc to look like jewels.
    • Bread makes a wide variety of garnishes, cubed, cut in diamonds or triangles (etc), shredded and these then fried or toasted in a low oven for colour, flavour and crispness. They can also be seasoned with cheese, spices, and over flavourings.
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    Think about making layers of food. While you should aim to be conservative, layers can make a clever impact with no or minimal extra ingredients required.
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    Experiment with tools such as peelers, zesters, melon ballers, apple core cutters, cookie cutters and other tools you have at home.
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    Consider other effect type garnishes.
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    Take note of garnishes when you go out for a meal, or read a food magazine and see if you can duplicate it for cooking for your friends or family.
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    Consider going to a cooking class for more information.


  • The best garnishes always add a bit of interest, drama or excitement to the meal. A simple example is Birthday candles for children, observe how excited everyone becomes when the room goes dark and in comes a cake festooned with flickering light. Stage preparation adds so much more to an event.


  • Always practice first, especially if using a sharp knife, practice your cutting skills and knife handling ability and the tool you use may slip and cut you if you are not careful.

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Categories: Appreciation of Food | Food Preparation