Secrets of Fruit Salad

4 04 2011

Fruit salad is a deceptively simple dish.  It seems like you could just throw in a bunch of cut up fresh fruits and call it a day, and a lot of people do just that.  I am not one of them.  And I am often complimented on my fruit salads.  So what’s the secret?  I’ve got several.

  • Honey. Try drizzling a little honey over your fruit.  An unusual or unique one, such as Tasmanian leatherwood honey or Corsican chestnut honey will make your salad much more interesting.  Taste different honeys and try to imagine them paired with various fruits.  A floral honey is nice with stone fruits or tropical fruits, an earthy or nutty one is great with berries or citrus.
  • Salt. A few flecks of crunchy sea salt will really make the flavors sing.  I like to use vanilla salt, which I make by scraping a vanilla bean into a jar of fleur de sel.
  • Acid. Particularly lemon or lime juice.  It not only brightens the flavor, but also acts as an antioxydant to keep more delicate fruits from going brown.  Go ahead and throw some zest in there, too, if you like a more pronounced citrus flavor.
  • Herbs. Mint, basil, and tarragon are three that compliment fruits especially well.
  • No “Kitchen Sink.” It may be cliché, but “what grows together goes together.”  Apples and oranges pretty much never belong in the same salad.  Try to limit yourself to a few well-chosen, seasonal fruits.

Some seasonal suggestions:

  • Spring – Early spring still relies on tropical fruits, but later on, strawberries, cherries and apricots steal the show.  Try them with a little crushed dried lavender.
  • Summer – Probably the best season for fruit salads, summer abounds with juicy stone fruits, berries, and watermelons.  Summery basil and refreshing mint are natural complements, but a little chili pepper makes for an unexpected twist.
  • Fall – Late-season melons, grapes, and plums provide a lingering taste of warmer days.  Crunchy nuts add contrast.  Fall is also a great time for compotes.  Essentially warm fruit salads, think apples or pears and dried cranberries, cooked with a stick of cinnamon to spice things up.
  • Winter – Winter is a great excuse to eat tropical fruits that might otherwise cause guilty feelings among the locavore set.  Pineapples, mangoes, papayas, and other exotic fruits combine with kiwis (grown in temperate climates, but in season in winter) to give a splash of color to the earth-toned palette of winter produce.  Lively citrus salads are made intriguing with a hint of tarragon.

kiwi salad

Kiwifruit Salad

A simple dressing of citrus, honey, and salt elevates ordinary fruit to new heights.

4 kiwis
juice of ½ lime
1 tsp. Honey (I used Tasmanian)
pinch of vanilla salt

  1. Peel the kiwis by cutting the ends off and slipping a spoon between the skin and the flesh. Cut the kiwis into lengthwise quarters, then horizontal slices. Place in a bowl.
  2. Add the lime juice, honey, and vanilla salt and stir to combine. Let the flavors mingle for about 10 minutes, then eat.

Serves 2.

On this day in 2008: New Ganga (a now defunct Indian restaurant)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




20 responses

4 04 2011

What great suggestions. I’ve never tried honey but I’m totally with you on the few well-selected fruits thing. If it’s a dessert salad, I’ve been known to add alcohol – a little grand marnier with strawberries for example goes a long way 😉

4 04 2011

I love the idea of vanilla salt! I am absolutely going to try that!

5 04 2011

I’m super in love with this post! When I lived at home, my dad used to make fruit salad all the time and I used to get in trouble because I usually didn’t want any – it was just cut up fruit, and I’d rather make myself a cookie or something, then have a single piece of my favourite fruit. Your ideas of a flavourful honey and vanilla salt (vanilla salt! Ingenious!) are fabulous!

P.S. Personally, I don’t think apple or orange should be in any fruit salad…

5 04 2011

What a great post, Camille! I love the idea of adding herbs. Passion fruit is a great addition to strawberries and I recently had some supremes d’oranges dusted with cinnamon — delicious.

5 04 2011
hungry dog

Vanilla salt sounds amazing, I will have to remember that. Thanks for all the good tips! I confess I am guilty of dumping lots of fruit into a bowl without much thought–including apples and oranges!!

6 04 2011

Hopie – Mmm, Grand Marnier. Great idea!

nererue – Vanilla salt is awesome, and surprisingly versatile.

Hannah – I’m inclined to agree with you about the apples, but oranges can be very nice as long as they’re cut properly (e.g. zero pith).

Ann – Love the suggestions, thanks!

hungry dog – Heh. Well, try it my way, and see if you go back! 🙂

6 04 2011

Ohhh that looks wonderful. Thank you for sharing your tips.

6 04 2011
Anna Johnston

Its all about dressing up the fruit sometimes isn’t it. Love your ideas with the vanilla salt & drizzling interesting honey on fruits – I’m seriously in love with flavour pairings & this is bring simple ‘n fresh to a whole new level. 🙂

7 04 2011
Luke @ WellJourn

Love fruit salads. Thanks for the tips!

7 04 2011

Vanilla salt would have never occurred to me.
Have you ever tried black pepper? A teeny bit goes surprisingly well with fruits like strawberries and peaches; and salt is always especially good with oranges/mandarins.
I like my fruit salad with just a squeeze of orange juice and I rarely sweeten it. I’m strange but I also like to eat orange segments dipped in lots and lots of cinnamon.
Try sprinkling just a bit of fructose on top of your fruit salad – it really brings out the natural sweetness of fruit.

8 04 2011

Great post. I love the suggestions for the fruit salads. Way to often fruit salads end up being mushy messes.

8 04 2011

YES! This post is like a window INTO MY SOUL. hahahaha couldn’t agree more 🙂

8 04 2011

Vanilla Salt? Nice!!!!!!
Love the tips on the fruit pairings!!!!!!
Feeling spring? It is here – full of blooms – and spring allergies! HA Gardening fiend am I!

8 04 2011

Joy – You’re welcome!

Anna – When you put a little thought into your flavor pairings, simple goes a long way! 🙂

Luke – My pleasure!

Grapefruit – Black pepper is a great idea! I do love it with strawberries.

Michel – They do. Just trying to do my part to help educate!

Lizzi – Ha! Thank you!

Nanan – I know what you mean about the allergies… 😉

9 04 2011

I love this post! Fruit salad always turns out to be so mundane when I make it, but with your guide, I’m sure it’ll be 100x better. I can’t wait for the summer fruits, I want to try sprinkling them with chili!

10 04 2011

Jessica – Thank you! Let me know if you come up with any crazy/great combinations!

12 04 2011

How intriguing the notion of vanilla salt is. I have some cypriot lemon salt in the cupboard, that would be interesting to try on a fruit salad now that you’ve made me think of it. I do love a fruit salad, especially with figs or berries. I don’t mind apple, but don’t really like orange in one.

13 04 2011

Louise – Sounds fantastic!

16 04 2011
Inger Wilkerson

In a college semester abroad I ended up living with a family where the woman was a Cordon Bleu cook. She put sugar and orange juice on her fruit salads, then let them sit and by dinner there was the most amazing fruit sauce. It turned me forever into a fruit salad lover. I will have to try the vanilla salt–sounds amazing!

18 04 2011

Inger – Ah, I love it when the line between salad and dessert blurs. 🙂

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