How to elevate fruit salad from boring to brilliant
fruit salad might not be something your friends and family would swoon over. After all, some of us remember the syrupy canned concoctions of our youth. Maybe the mere mention of it conjures a bunch of random fruit thrown into a bowl. There is room for improvement. Here are a few tips on how to upgrade the flavor and appearance of your next fruit salad, without a tremendous amount of effort or expense.
- Mix things up
The last thing you want to do is put out a giant bowl of just one kind of cut-up fruit, unless you have some of the most perfect strawberries or cherries - in which case, I’m listening. One type of fruit is boring, two looks like you couldn’t be bothered, but three - well, you’ve put in some effort. I’m willing to go up to four or five, especially when one or two are components such as berries that require little prep. Think about variety in terms of colour, flavour, texture and size. You could even incorporate some crunch in the form of pomegranate seeds. Your personal preference may vary, but I like a fruit salad with different size pieces; otherwise, it feels too formal and looks too much like salsa. You can accomplish a good mix of size by chopping into small-to-large bite-size pieces and/or using small whole or halved fruits.
- Freeze - or heat - some of the fruit
Popping some of the fruit in the freezer in advance lends textural interest (see above) and also can help keep the salad at a refreshingly cool temperature for serving. Frozen grapes are delightful, and I’m partial to eating mango straight out of the freezer. Berries or even bananas, which tend to go brown when cut up and stirred into something at room temperature, are other possibilities. Or you can go the opposite direction and grill some (or all) the fruit, which caramelises the sugars and imparts a pleasant smoky flavor, and adds attractive grill marks. Prime candidates for grilling include pineapple, watermelon and peaches, because they hold their shape.
- Accent with something unexpected
I like using sturdy, relatively affordable and easy-to-prepare fruits as the base of my fruit salad. Good options include cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple. Then I start mixing in a variety of small, tender ones, such as blueberries, cherries, peaches and plums. It’s also fun to add one splurge fruit, something that can be more exotic or unexpected, something that you would not want as the entire foundation of your salad. Dragon fruit, which boasts a spongy flesh speckled with tiny black seeds and a kiwilike flavour, is one example. Other possibilities: star fruit, kiwi berries and fresh currants from the farmers market. Be sure you keep at least some of your splurge fruit on top for visual panache.
- Add extra flavour
Beautiful, ripe fruit is worth appreciating on its own. If you’re putting together a fruit salad, extra flavouring can bring everything together or improve fruit that is less than perfect. You can do this in several ways. For even coverage and a boost of sweetness, use a simple syrup flavoured with herbs or citrus zest/peel. Bring equal parts of water and sugar to a boil, cook until the sugar has dissolved, and then remove from the heat. Add your herbs or citrus to steep for half an hour. Discard the solids before using or storing. For a fruit salad, herbs such as mint, basil and culinary lavender work well. – Washington Post.
Think about variety in terms of colour, flavour, texture and size. You could even incorporate some crunch in the form of pomegranate seeds.