Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I am not sure if it’s because I’m always on the lookout for things to go into bento boxes, or just a coincidence, but I have been seing more mini-fruits that are just right to tuck into the corner of a bento box lately. The photo above shows a couple of these: small yet still sweet figs, about 1 inch / 2 cm in diameter at their fattest point, and something that was being sold as mini kiwis (Debra of hapa bento saw them being sold as kiwi berries). They look like tiny kiwis when cut open, and taste like kiwis, but lack the hairy skins; they have smooth, totally edible skins. I’ve seen two kinds - ones that are a reddish-green on the outside and about the shape of an American football or rugby ball, and ones that are elongated, about the length of my thumb. They are very cute, though a bit expensive - but then you only need a few for a bento box.

Another fruit, not exactly mini, that I like to put into the fruit section of a bento is pomegranate seeds (you see a couple in the photo). They are sweet-sour and make great little nibbles. They are so pretty too. You can shake some out of a cut open pomegranate by turning it cut side down over a bowl or plate, and whacking it hard with a wooden spoon, handy open beer bottle, your fist, etc.

Pomegranate seeds form the center of this lovely fruit bento box by gamene, from the Just Bento flickr group:

veggie burrito bento

Tips for fruit in bento boxes

  • Soft fruit in particular should be kept cool, so be sure that any warm/cooked items sharing space in the same bento box are cooled down completely. Otherwise, pack your fruit in a separate container and consider packing an ice pack with it.
  • Cut fruit should be dunked into salted water or acidulated water (water with some lemon juice squeezed in) to prevent browning.
  • Go for fruit in season!
  • This is a bit of a prejudice of mine perhaps, but an all-fruit bento is not too balanced nutritionally. While fruit is healthy for you, remember that it’s mostly sugar and water with some vitamins. Depending on the type of fruit, they can be rather high in calories (dried fruit especially). Try to keep the amount of fruit to a half or less of your total bento lunch. If you have a very fruity bento, consider cutting down a bit on other carbs and adding more vegetables and protein.

What are your favorite fruits for bentos or lunchboxes?

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

Filed under:

21 comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I love grapes in my bentos, whole or halved. Also, apples cubed with lemon juice on them, blueberries, and strawberry cubes. Now I'm starving!

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

Personally fruit rarely makes it into my bento. When I was in middle school and high school I would just pack some fruit and string cheese for lunch, instead of the traditional American sandwich, so I am kind of tired of fruit for lunch. Plus as I have gotten older I have begun to enjoy things that are more savory and that much fruit really looks like desert to me (apparently as we get into our 20's and beyond our bodies crave far less sugar than when we were growing, cannot for the life of me find the article).

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

Not exactly a mini, but still small fruit: For a real splurge, I bought some giant grapes from Nijiya in San Francisco. (About the size of a quail egg.) Not only are these the best tasting grapes that I've ever eaten, but three of these in a bento are very impressive. Unfortunately I don't know their name. It starts with an "H"

I tried some mini apples. While they fit whole in the bento box, they were very hard and too tart for my taste. Clementines, however, are perfect. I remove the top and bottom of the clemmie, which makes an interesting design, and it squishes nicely into the box.

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

... And during the summer I was able buy "champagne" grapes. I don't think that they were really grown for sparkling wine production; but rather, so tiny that they were reminescent of champagne bubbles. Each grape was slightly larger than a pomegranate seed. A small cluster of these make a geat bento filler.

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I love persimmons in bentos. I slice them and, if I'm feeling really over-the-top, cut them with a scalloped edged round cutter I have. The rich orange color looks beautiful, and the sweet/spicy flavor goes really well with a lot of traditional bento foods.

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I think those are what they call "hardy kiwis."

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

Nope. I'm pretty sure that the giant Japanese grapes were grapes, not kiwis. The skin color was shades of purple. The inside was very pale. It was seedless. And they were labelled grapes. (sigh) I've since been buying small clusters of different grapes at Nijiya, but none of them are as large. Last night's Kyoho grapes were delicious, but had large seeds.

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

The mini kiwi you have there are "Hardy Kiwifruit". It's a cultivar that can take much more cold than the more familiar fruit. They are pretty popular with home gardeners in the colder parts of the USA and Canada as regular kiwi plants really can only grow in California and parts of the south. They are really cute but hardly ever get to the grocery stores here. You are lucky to have found some to buy! Usually the only way to get them here is if a gardener gives you some. But the plants are easy to find for the garden. Here's a page I found that talks about them-

http://seasonalontariofood.blogspot.com/2008/10/hardy-kiwi-fruit.html

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I rarely have fruit in my bento, but I like a sweet snack, so I often have a little tub of yoghrt with fruit, nuts and hney/maple syrup in the afternoon.

Sometimes, when I make a salad bento, I like to have fresh goat's cheese with red or black grapes: the contrast in colour is stunning, and it tastes delicious... Weirdly enough, the first time I have this combination was in a McDonald's in France in about 1994... It just show that you can learn something new from any source...

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

Really! A hardy Kiwi...now that is a plant I think we need for our garden. I must find one! And thanks for the reminder about pomegranate I just saw some at our supermarket and they are on the list for next weeks bentos.

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

Mostly they're available by mail order I think, unless you have a really good nursery near you who can maybe special order some plants.
They grow male and female plants, and you need one of each, but one male vine is good for several female vines.
If you live in the US, I found this one link-
http://www.tripplebrookfarm.com/newweb/gen/namesearch/Actinidia.shtml#ca...
I'm sure there are many others too, this is just the first one I found, but their info is good and correct and their prices seem pretty good. Haven't used them though. Good luck!^^

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I see you have some fresh figs there.

I love fresh figs. Lucky for me my parents' have fig trees. They have both the big purple ones (brown turkeys) and the green ones with the juicy pink centers. Both are delicious. And they are nice enough to let me have all the figs I want. You don't see fresh figs in the major grocery chain stores very often. I guess they don't travel well or last long. So many people haven't had the pleasure of trying them.

Gamene's bento looks delicious but I'm looking at it and thinking...I could never eat all that.

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I love cubed kiwi stuffed inside raspberries! And they're pretty too.

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I saw these same "kiwi berries" at Trader Joe's today and they were packaged as "baby kiwis". Last week at PCC Markets... "hardy kiwi".

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

What a great find. These little mini fruits look fantastic in the Benito box. This is something that I am definitely going to try. Of course now I may have to wait until summer to give it a shot.

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

Oh it seems, that the Kiwi-Berries are getting popular in Germany, too. I just bought on box last week. They are so cute for Bento-Boxes and so delicious, when you eat them cold :D

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I love clementine or tangerine segments. I live in florida, and the time to buy citrus is now. The meat of clementines and tangerines arn't attached to their outer leathery skins like oranges or grapefruits. You just peel off the skin, and placed the perfect little segments in your bento!

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I've been using a lot of cubed Honeycrisp apples because they don't brown significantly. Also a lot of cantaloupe, just because my daughter loves it!

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

I love putting blueberries in my bento lunches. They're small and colorful, and added bonus, my favorite fruit!

Go big or eat Chinese

When I make lunch, I make bento or I pack leftovers on rice. Bento = innovation and percision. Leftovers on rice = quick nutrition. The veg-rice-meat ratios are pretty similar for both. But my favorite fruit bento is this: Plum sauce chicken bao, yellow pear-shaped tomato salad w/garlic, french/Indian green beans w/coconut and onion, boiled bok choy cut in half, a piece of seasonal fruit and tomago. The gluten based carbs are kept low to compensate for the sugar contents of the fruits.

Re: Mini fruit fit for bento boxes

You don't necessarily have to whack at a pomegranate to get the seeds out (though it sounds fun). We always stick pomegranate halves into a bowl of water and tear them apart. The seeds sink right to the bottom and you can just scoop them out.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.