Many of us have been impressed by the beautiful and creative sculptures that have been created from fruits, vegetables, ice and that are without question any ephemeral works of art, but works of art anyway.
For many years only catering professionals, especially cooks, had been interested in this modern art, but with the passage of time there has been an increase in people from different professions, including housewives, who have sought and found in him a way to express themselves and please their guests. The text below is a summary of the book "Vegetable and fruit Carving", by Xiang Wang.
The art of sculpting fruits and vegetables originated in the Far East. Great skill is required and has been part of the Traditions from there for thousands of years. However, the techniques vary from one country to another and another, and can be as different from each other as it is, say, preparing food steamed or grilled.
The techniques Chinese and Thai, for example, have very little in common. In China there is generally a trend to use vegetables to form traditional sculptures of animals or towers, etc. The Chinese work with a wide variety of utensils, including gouges, knives, and molds. This is in contrast to the Thais, who almost exclusively carve fruits to make floral designs and make the entire decoration using a single knife, the so-called "Thai knife" with its flexible blade. Again, the technique used by the Japanese is closer to that of the Chinese; however, they prefer to use molds for their designs rather than carving them. As you can imagine, each technique has its advantages and disadvantages.
The Chinese technique, using gouges of various kinds, is the most suitable for Europeans and, therefore, their learning is easier for them. The correct method of the Thais is almost incomprehensible to us. The Thai knife with its flexible blade is the only utensil used and the work is always done from the body of the fruit outwards. This procedure seems very strange to us and consequently it is very difficult to learn.
Our workshops and books teach a new carving technique, combining the advantages of Chinese and Thai techniques without forgetting the European working methods. This makes it easier for us to learn and means that you can create carved decorations after practicing quite a bit.
- F-Keep-fresh spray. Spraying regularly, especially while preparing the piece, ensures that the fruit does not turn brown and lasts longer.
- Round wavy gouges are especially effective for working fruit.
- Cling film. Immediately after finishing the piece, spray it on and immediately cover with the transparent film.
- Gouges of various sizes. To carve flowers, gouges that progressively increase in size (V- and U-shaped) will normally be needed.
- The Thai knife is probably the most important knife for working fruit. Its tip can be used to trace contours and its flexible blade makes cutting easier. Important: To prevent the blade from rusting, if you go through butter before storing it in its case, it will prolong the life of the knife.
The tésculpting technique
Sculpting a decoration can be approached from two different angles:
- Having a fruit, you need to find a suitable design.
- A design has been chosen and now a suitable fruit has to be found.
- As soon as the fruit has been chosen, the following factors must be taken into account:
- the skin of the fruit,
- the firmness of the meat (the sculpture technique will have to be adapted according to the degree of maturity of the fruit),
- the hollow area of the fruit,
- the nuggets or bones
- The fruit will determine the shape of the sculpture. Professional carvers decide the design when they have the piece of fruit in hand and can evaluate the adaptation of this fruit.
Once the fruit is chosen, it's time to do some serious work:
- As a rule, the fruits used for carving should not be fully ripe (thus they have the added advantage of staying fresh longer)
- The fruit should be carefully examined. This allows you to take full advantage of your features.
- You should also consider the colors of the fruit and its skin to determine how they can be used in terms of design.
- Can the stem, leaves, or the union of stem and leaves be integrated later in the design?
- The ones are chosen tools appropriate. Knives sharpen well. Work with some tools Properly sharpened is much easier and greatly reduces the risk of accidents.
- It is therefore necessary to acquire the habit of sharpening the tools every time a new project is started
- Mentally review the entire process of the sculpting technique.
- If necessary, identify the relevant points of the fruit.
- Start sculpting.
Sculpting fruit is a skill like any other, and the saying "with practice comes mastery" applies here as well. Cutting thin and precise sheets is something that must be learned with special care. It is worth practicing certain techniques, such as carving a rose, until complete perfection is achieved.
This flower can be used in many different ways when carving fruits or vegetables. It is also very important to handle the fruit correctly, both when sculpting it and when saving and preserving the resulting decoration later when the sculpture is completed (see the chapter on conservation, pages 14 and 15). Very sensitive fruits, such as apples, should be treated properly during your sculpture to ensure that it maintains its precious fresh color.
The art of sculpting requires patience, concentration and attention as well as respect for the precious natural product. This work is contemplative and very creative. Its rewards are the pleasure, surprise and admiration of all who see the finished piece.
The rules for the conservation of fruit are different from those of vegetables, described in the textbook Wang No. 1. Fruits that have been sculpted unripe can keep for a long time if treated correctly. The procedure for preserving small decorations is different from that used for large ones.
The small sculptures
- Place the small carved object in a container and spray with F-Keep-fresh spray
- If multiple decorations are to be kept in the same container, cover the bottom decorations with clear plastic wrap before placing the next layer and re-spraying these with the spray.
- Close the container tightly with a lid or with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
The big sculptures
- Generously spray the sculpture with F-Keep-Fresh spray.
- Carefully wrap with plastic wrap
- Very large objects should be wrapped from both sides to ensure that the wrap is completely airtight.
- Keep the fruit properly wrapped in the fridge.
- If these steps are followed, the decorations can be prepared many days in advance, and when it is time to display them, they will look like a newly made sculpture.
- The illustration shows the difference between a sculpture sprayed with F-Keep-Fresh and one that has not been treated.