Need to make a great fruit salad!
June 18, 2017 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I got asked to bring fruit to a potluck tonight, and since I actually already have a bunch of fruit in the house, I thought I might make a fruit salad, which I've somehow never really done before! Looking for all your tips and tricks beyond "cut up fruit and put it in a bowl". Thanks!

I have: two big Fuji apples, a half pound of cherries, a couple containers of strawberries (both tasty local ones and some less tasty ones from California), a can of pineapple tidbits in their own juice, and two overripe bananas. Other things I have on hand that I've seen in fruit salads before: honey, fresh mozzarella, mint, rosemary. Assume my kitchen is fairly well stocked but I don't want to go to the store. Thanks!
posted by skycrashesdown to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Spraying some citrus juice over the whole thing is what ties it together further than "cut up fruit in bowl"
posted by raccoon409 at 10:34 AM on June 18 [3 favorites]

And blend that citrus juice with the rosemary and mint!
posted by jgirl at 10:36 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]

If you have amaretto that will work, too. I am into boozed up fruit. I have not been a fan of mayo and fruit or cook whip, jello and fruit.
posted by jadepearl at 10:38 AM on June 18

Forgot to mention: sadly, I have almost no citrus on hand. I thought I had at least a can of mandarin orange slices in their own juice, but apparently I'm out. I did just find two old satsumas in the fridge, but I have no lemons or limes either.
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:45 AM on June 18

My favorite fruit salad features a tiny dice of all the fruits (best eaten with a spoon) and some simple syrup.
posted by xo at 10:54 AM on June 18 [4 favorites]

My sister in law adds poppy seeds to her fruit salad.
posted by Roger Pittman at 10:59 AM on June 18

Throw some mint up in there!
posted by functionequalsform at 11:00 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]

I like adding some finely chopped fresh ginger if you've got some, but that's just me. The mint and/or rosemary would be a similarly nice touch.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 11:01 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]

Cinnamon is a nice addition to fruit salad. Just a pinch. Skip the bananas, they'll just mush when you mix it all. After you cut up the apples, toss in some of the juice from the pineapple, as that acid will help stop browning (although using a super sharp knife helps with that, too). If the apples and strawberries are a tad tart, you can also use a few tablespoons of the pineapple juice mixed with some honey, poured over everything.
posted by AliceBlue at 11:11 AM on June 18 [4 favorites]

I would dice the apples, cherries, and strawberries for an intentionally red salad. I'd dress that with some pineapple juice and a little honey and mint. I'd skip the overripe bananas (they get slimy and the smell can overpower everything), less flavorful strawberries, and pineapple.
posted by kapers at 11:15 AM on June 18 [6 favorites]

I generally just cut the fruit up, but the other additions sound interesting. I would skip the overripe bananas as well, but everything else sounds good.
posted by mermayd at 11:21 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]

I know you want to use the fruit you have on hand, however fruit served on pretty skewers is so elegant looking. Use fruit that won't fall apart such as strawberries, grapes, melon, pineapple, etc.
posted by Aha moment at 11:37 AM on June 18

I generally use a quick citrus and ginger simple syrup to jazz up a fruit salad, so use the juice and peel of those satsumas plus some powdered or fresh ginger! Always a crowd pleaser!
posted by merriment at 11:55 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Chopped walnuts or pecans would go well too. Second skip the bananas.
posted by mareli at 12:06 PM on June 18

I, too, just cut the fruit up and put it in a bowl. Mostly because I've seen people excited to see a plain old fruit salad and then learn they have to avoid the cheese or that the syrup/honey/etc is added sugar that they need to avoid, or someone put wine in it and then there is disappointment.

My fruit salad is apples, bananas, strawberries, grapes and sometimes but not always tangerine slices. I make sure the pieces are cut to very similar sizes and then layer them (strawberries, banana, apples, grapes, repeat) so you get all the fruit in every bite.
posted by kimberussell at 12:10 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]

You could cut banana into the salad serving by serving as you eat it, but on no account add it to the salad as you're preparing it, especially since the flavor of fruit salad generally improves if you let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so before serving.
posted by jamjam at 12:14 PM on June 18

A little crème de menthe, or vanilla Galliano, or triple sec, or amaretto, is a good addition, either as a drizzle or as a whipped cream flavouring. Maybe serve on the side to respect dietary restrictions.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:40 PM on June 18

I agree that the flavor improves when it's had some time to sit & mingle.

The mother of a friend of mine would sprinkle some banana pudding powder on hers and mix it in (not a whole packet though). It added some creaminess to the juice and a little banana flavor, which was nice although I don't typically do that (seems like cheating, plus I'd end up with a mostly-full open packet of expired banana pudding in the cupboard, and who needs that?).
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:25 PM on June 18

If you do not add lemon juice, you'll want to be sure to make the salad as close to serving as possible. The citric acid helps keep the fruit from going brown.
posted by stillmoving at 1:25 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Sorry, missed the part about not going to the store.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:26 PM on June 18

If your fruit isn't lusciously ripe and fragrant (and face it, most store-bought fruit isn't), I've found that one small drop of rosewater will add the missing floral quality that says "ripeness of summer". Go easy though - if you can actually smell roses, people will complain it tastes like soap. You just want a subtle hint of flowers.

The liqueurs mentioned above might do this too, or maybe orange water (never tried it) or some other flavoring that hints at lush blossoms.
posted by Quietgal at 2:04 PM on June 18

I like to add fresh herbs and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to fruit salads for flavor and texture. A typical herb combo for me is basil, mint, lemon thyme, and sorrel (mainly because I'm usually growing all these things). Another good one if it won't be unrefrigerated for hours: throw some yogurt in the blender with mango or nectarine and a green herb (often sweet basil or lemon balm) and pour it over the fruit right before eating.
posted by centrifugal at 2:14 PM on June 18

Forgot to mention: sadly, I have almost no citrus on hand.

Well you have pineapple juice. Are you 100% sure you have no lemons, limes or lemon juice or lime juice? Got a neighbour with any? You kind of need it to stop the fruit salad from going flopapalooza.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:14 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

A little dusting of tarragon?
posted by Bruce H. at 2:31 PM on June 18

Honey is an alternative to lemon juice for keeping apples from browning. It doesn't work quite as well because the honey is harder to spread around when cold. If you have the time, make a honey syrup, equal parts honey and water heated until combined, and then cool it down again. Use that on the apples.

Macerate the strawberries (maybe just the inferior ones) in sugar and a little salt after cutting into bite sized pieces. As they sit they will emit juice and become much tastier than they were before. If you have good balsamic vinegar you can do a splash of that, too.

Strain the juice and reserve it. Also reserve juice from the cherries and pineapple, and maybe some of that honey syrup if you did that. Then taste everything and decide how much of each liquid you want, maybe go easy on the pineapple juice because it can be overwhelming. Mix together and adjust with salt, herbs, other spices. A little salt will go a long way and make everything just taste more like itself. Think of the typical ratio of salt to other dry ingredients in cookies, for example. If you have gingerale or flavored sparkling water or if you want to add booze, mix that into the fruit juice you have going. Taste by dipping a piece of fruit into it if you're unsure. Then treat it like your salad dressing. Toss in just enough to coat everything but not to drown it.

Leave the bananas out. If you really want to use them in this, cut them up just before serving and arrange them around the sides of the bowl. Otherwise they will get all weird and slimy and make the salad get weird and ugh. Mostly I suggest popping them in the freezer and using for mock ice cream or banana bread.
posted by Mizu at 2:35 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]

I realize the OP wants to limit these salad ideas to what's on hand but you've got almost all the ingrediants necessary for my mothers blueberry salad, a summertime treat we hardly ever get anymore, since she passed away. Just mix up a little mayo with some apple pieces, some walnuts, pineapple pieces and yes banana chunks -- plus of course the blueberries. Chill for a bit before serving. My mom might add some celery slices (but I'd pick them out, puh-lease!) Substituting your strawberries, the result might be just as tasty.
posted by Rash at 2:47 PM on June 18

I like to add a bit of yogurt to the fruit to give it a cohesiveness. Vanilla or lime work great, though plain yogurt with some honey or jam added to it would also work.
posted by hydra77 at 6:16 PM on June 18

Fish sauce and peanuts. Seriously. A little toasted shrimp paste and some finely chopped chillies as well, but then we're getting away from fruit salad and just in delicious territory.
posted by conifer at 4:17 AM on June 19

Peach schnapps. Really.
posted by Dolley at 5:13 AM on June 19

I like fruit salad with vanilla (1/2-1 tsp) and some chopped fresh mint (1-2 tbsp). If you don't have lemon, maybe some of the pineapple juice tossed with the apples will help keep them from going brown -- they need some acid.
posted by PearlRose at 9:29 AM on June 19

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