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Thursday, 12 July 2012

What's Up Fruit Salads? - Gourmet Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad Cups are the best summer dessert - these are perfect for cocktail parties too
"When you eat a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree."   - Vietnamese Proverb

How fresh is a fruit Salad in summer? Like a bouquet of flavours, light on the heart and music to the soul in a colourful landscape that will delight your eyes. What better way to celebrate the summer, its flavours, aromas, social living than with a mingling of fruits? Fruit Salads are a pure pleasure.
With that said, it is ironic that fruit salads served in restaurants or cafes - basically any on the go fruit salad - are usually very uninteresting to the palate nor the eye, frequently very bland, and almost always lacking that something that makes you close your eyes and think "mmmm... Goodness Gracious!". On many occasions, I found myself wondering why I ordered a fruit salad! So many times, I felt this fruit salad is less than mediocre! Why is that? What's up Fruit Salad?

Read on for the tips and recipe...

Fruit salads like any other item on the menu must include a little thought, rather than simply chopping fruits and stacking them on a plate. Some fruits work together very well, while other fruits can overpower your palate leaving you unable to taste anything else. There are flavourings that can be added to fruit salads to bring out the goodness of some fruits. Even aromatics such as herbs and spices can be added to a fruit salad to give it extra flavour, extra depth, that wow factor... Therefore, I do recommend you try out flavour combinations even in fruit salads. Otherwise, just nibble on an apple!

How to orchestrate the best fruit salads

  • The first and most important element to a fabulous fruit salad starts with picking seasonal produce. Fruits never taste better than when they are in season. There is nothing worse than a fruit salad with fruits that are picked early and lack on flavour, or are too sour still to be enjoyed.
  • Go fresh, never frozen. Believe it or not, I have had fruit salads in good restaurants and cafes that used frozen fruits!! How is that even possible?! Freezing fruits changes their texture. Once thawed these fruits will be soggy and very texturally wrong for a fruit Salad! Always use good quality, unbruised, fresh fruits.
  • Think of the flavours before deciding which fruits to go for. If you wish to use all fruits you have left before they go bad, that's fine provided you decide quantities of each fruit according to the strength of the flavour. For example, mangoes are very pungent. If you use 6 mangoes, and 1 piece of other fruits, the mango flavour will take over the other flavours in the salad. That becomes a Mango Salad.
  • Add aromatics. Yes you can use spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, herbs like mint, rosemary, basil, ginger... you won't believe how much depth these add to a fruit salad. They transform it from bland to super tasty. Sometimes 1 fruit, 1 herb and 1 juice can make a super delicious fruit salad. Like watermelon and mint or basil salad.
  • Add toasted or raw nuts to fruit Salads, I always add nuts to my fruit salads. I like the texture and flavour these nuts add to the plate. Just make sure to never use those salted cocktail nuts!
  • When chopping the fruits, try and make them uniform in size, it appeals better to the eye, and is then easier to spoon more combinations of fruit for each bite. If you chop your salad overly large it will be hard to grab more than one piece of fruit for any bite. There is also something not elegant about overly sized fruits in a fruit salad. Go for a medium size chop, it is always a better option. You can even go super mini batonnet chopping is also very admirable for a salsa effect. I use the mini batonnets when making a fruit salad to acompany a cake like in my spiced apple cake. It recreates the food topped with salsa cuisine experience, which is another interesting way to serve fruit salads. Think fruit salsas to accompany, pancakes, crepes, shortbread, financiers, molten...etc.
  • You don't always have to serve fruit salad in bowls, you can also serve them in cups, shot glasses with mini spoons, jars for an outdoor's BBQ or picnics...etc. This all adds to the appeal of food, which makes it more desirable. Just because it is a fruit salad, it does not have to be boring!
  • Add edible flowers to your fruit salads. I love to use edible flowers in all my food creations. They add an aesthetic element that is so elegant and inviting. They add colour, but most importantly they add flavour. Yes edible flowers are not used to only add colour, those petals are packed with flavour.
  • Add flavourings whenever suitable with the flavours you are going for. Like a good quality vanilla essence (not the cheap medicinal supermarket ones, but good quality gourmet quality coming from good vanilla plantations) you will be amazed how good these taste in a fruit salad. You can also use rose water, orange blossom water, distilled cardamom water...etc.
  • Go for different juices as base instead of the same old orange juice all the time. Try a mixture of pineapple juice and coconut juice for a tropical feel. Go for home-made lemonade and finely chopped mint for a refreshing feel on super hot days. Try apple juice for when you are craving sweets...etc

You can even use Fruit wafers to garnish a fruit salad
These are all tips you can use when making fruit salads, and just like with everything, experiment and find your own combinations that you love. In this post, I am choosing my all time favourite Fruit Salad recipe. I make this all the time. It is always in my fridge and am always munching. It takes care of all the sugar craves, gives me the nutrients needed everyday, and keeps me feeling satisfied instead of peckish. I serve this salad alongside my Spiced Apple Cake all the time. 

This particular fruit salad works well with any fruits because its base is universal for any flavour group. Your friends and family are going to love you for making this salad, and they will be asking you for the recipe. I hope that you will direct them to my blog and share the goodness with them lol ;)

Gourmet Fruit Salad
You NeedMakes a large bowl serves 8-10 depending portions
Use Edible Flowers to add colour
& Flavour to your Fruit Salads

2 green apples
 2 bananas
Small branch seedless black grapes 
Small branch seedless white grapes
Handful blueberries 
Handful raspberries
2 handfuls strawberries 
1 segmented Clementine (if in season)
2 kiwis 
1 small pineapple, peeled and coarse centre removed
1 handful sliced almonds 
1 tsp Good quality vanilla essence
Fresh Juice of 5 oranges 
2 tbsp honey
¼ tsp cinnamon powder 
¼ cup desiccated coconuts
1 cup pineapple juice
2 handfuls pomegranate seeds
Blue or Purple Edible Flowers for garnish

Start with the acid to prevent fruits from blackening. In a large bowl add Fresh Orange juice, and pineapple juice. Add honey and vanilla essence, mix well to incorporate. Slice your fruits according to your preferred presentation shape. Add sliced and chopped fruits to the juice in the bowl.

Add coconuts, cinnamon powder, sliced almonds and fold to properly incorporate all ingredients. Place in a bowl or cups, jars...etc. Place 1 edible flower in each cup. Cover and keep refrigerated till needed. It is best to prepare the fruit salad first thing in the morning and give it till evening to infuse. You can even prepare it a day in advance. 

Tip Some fruits have a lot of colour in them and can colour the whole salad for you, like blueberries, blackberries...etc add these fruits right before serving, so they don’t colour the juice.

Relative Links

If you had had bad fruit salad experiences and decided you don't like fruit salads, I hope this post will change your mind. Try it out, I know you will love it. I do, my family does, my friends do and even my clients did when I was catering :) 
It sounds like a wedding lol ... Love is in the air :))

Drop by again soon, and don't forget my Ramadan Special: Daily Recipes here on Dima's Kitchen:))

Have a fruit-ful day x