A colorful selection of fruit, beautifully plated and displayed, provides a tasty treat and a centerpiece. Fruit lends itself well to advanced preparation, making it ready to serve on the day of the big event. When planning a tray for 100 people, consider how much fruit you'll need, along with preparation and serving options.
Three to five fruit types provide variety for your guests without requiring too much preparation ahead of time. For large platters, you'll have less work with fewer types of fruit. Keep color in mind when choosing fruits, for contrast. Choose some fruits that don't require peeling or preparation beyond washing, such as berries and grapes, to help save time. Add one or two selections that require more involved preparation, including peeling or slicing, such as apples, pineapples or melons. Choose bruise-free, fully ripe fruits. Bruised or overripe fruit will quickly look spoiled after sitting on a serving table for a couple of hours.
Figuring Out Quantities
When determining how much fruit to buy, go by weight. Figure on 4 ounces of fruit, not counting peels, per person, or about 25 pounds of fruit for 100 people. Estimate the weight of the fruit without the peel, core and seeds when buying. To make sure you have enough for the platter, figure that fruits with heavy peels or seeds, such as melons, weigh only one-half the amount on the scale once prepared. If weighing isn't possible, basic measurements can substitute. For light meals, 1/2 cup of fruit per person should be enough, but allow 3/4 cup per person for buffets or more informal gatherings.
Your guests are more likely to enjoy the fruit if it's served ready to eat, because few people will take the time to peel, slice or eat whole larger fruits. You can prepare most fruits and arrange the platter the day before. Fruits keep well for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Peel and core larger fruits, cutting them into bite-sized cubes or using a melon baller to create uniform pieces. Berries require no preparation beyond a quick cool-water rinse and drying. Strawberries, the main exception, require hulling to remove the leaves. Cut larger strawberries in halves or in quarters. If you serve fruits that brown easily, such as apple slices, dip the cut pieces in a solution of 1 tablespoon lemon juice per 1 quart of water to slow discoloration. Dry fruits thoroughly after washing so they remain firm on the tray.
For 100 guests, two fruit platters work better because your guests won't all gather around one end of the serving table. If you are plating individual trays to be brought to the table, place them in bowls instead of on individual platters so the juices don't make a mess. Arrange the fruit on a rimmed tray, in an attractive serving bowl, or carve out the inside of a watermelon rind and serve the fruit inside. Mix sturdy fruits, such as apple slices, melon chunks and pineapple, together before filling the bowl. Sprinkle tender fruits, such as berries, on top so they aren't crushed. Skewers provide another, serving size option for the fruit tray. Thread the sliced fruit on the skewers and arrange it on the tray.