How to el­e­vate fruit salad from bor­ing to bril­liant

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page - by Becky Krys­tal

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.

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