How To Make A Fruit Salad

Fresh Fruit Bowl

When a bowl of raw fruit is served as a dessert, each diner chooses and prepares his own. Give everyone a small plate and a small knife and fork.

Citrus fruit are usually peeled by hand and eaten in the fingers, but it is easier to peel an orange with the aid of a knife. Cut a small slice off the top, cut through the skin four times to divide into quarters, then pull away peel and pith by hand. Divide the orange into segments for easy eating. Alternatively, you can slice an orange and eat it with a fork.

Special grape cutters are available (rather like scissors with blunted blades) so that diners can help themselves to grapes by cutting small bunches off the main bunch in the fruit bowl. You can use scissors instead, or even a knife, but never pull individual grapes off the bunch in the bowl.

Apples, pears and bananas are eaten with a knife and fork. Bananas are peeled by hand, then cut into slices and eaten with a knife and fork. Apples and pears are cut into quarters and the core is removed from each quarter by cutting a channel or V-shaped cut. The quarters are then cut into bite-sized slices or chunks.

Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian
Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian

Fruit Salad Ideas

As a refreshing finale to a rich meal or to round off a summer lunch there could be no better dish than fruit salad served with fresh cream.

For water-melon sherbet, slice and remove the flesh from a small watermelon. Chop, discarding seeds. Add 10 ml lemon juice, 5 ml ground cinnamon and brown sugar to taste. Pile into glasses and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

For citrus bowl, peel and segments oranges and 2 grapefruit. Spoon over 150 ml honey syrup, add a few sprigs of fresh mint and chill for 1 hour before serving.

For individual slimmer's grape fluff, stir 6 peeled and deseeded green grapes into a carton of apricot yogurt. Pile into a tall glass and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

For pineapple kirsch, cut a pineapple into slices. Place the slices in a bowl and pour over 150 ml of cooking kirsch. Chill for 2 hours and serve with thick cream.

Chocolate bananas are a treat children will love. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water, allowing 50 grams of chocolate for each banana. Pour into a shallow dish. Peel the bananas and roll in the chocolate until coated. Lift out, using a fish slice, and leave to set on a cake-cooling tray.

For Christmas salad, mix segments of fresh orange with canned green figs, whole canned chestnuts and a few pieces of stem ginger. Heat the fig syrup and flavor with cloves. Pour over the salad when cold.

For pineapple surprise, prepare a pineapple so that the shell is left in one piece. Cut the flesh into dice and pile back into the pineapple with 2 mandarins cut into segments, 24 black grapes, peeled and deseeded, and 2 bananas, sliced. Pour in 150 ml of sherry or ginger-flavored syrup, replace the lid and chill for 2 hours before serving with thick cream.

For longboats, cut 4 ripe bananas in half lengthwise. Remove the flesh and mash with 30 ml thick cream and 15 ml honey. Pile back into the banana shells and top with chopped nuts, crushed nut brittle, crumbled macaroons or chocolate flake.

For melon and grape salad, mix balls of honeydew melon with seedless white grapes. Pour on freshly squeezed lemon juice and, for special occasions, a dash of green Chartreuse. Add sugar to taste. Chill and serve in the melon shell.

Syrups and Liquids

To retain freshness fruit must be immersed in liquid as soon as it has been cut. On the simplest level, this can be freshly squeezed orange, lemon or lime juice. Stir in some sugar if using lemon juice. Add grated zest if you wish and, for a special occasion, flavor the fruit juice with a little rum, cognac, Grand Marnier, sherry or cooking kirsch.

White or red wine or the liquid syrup from a jar of stem ginger make alternative simple but delicious 'sauces' to serve with fresh fruit.

Rather more complicated but very popular are sugar syrups. A practical syrup is a viscous liquid made by dissolving sugar or honey in water and boiling rapidly for 2 minutes. It is then allowed to become cold before being poured over the fruit (this is most important as the syrup would cook the fruit if poured over while still hot).

A syrup made using 275 ml water and 150 g white sugar and 5 ml lemon juice will be sufficient to cover a salad for four. Caster and granulated sugar are equally suitable. If you wish to increase the amount of syrup, add 25 g sugar for every 55 ml water.

Honey is sweeter than sugar so smaller quantities are needed. Allow 30 ml for every 275 ml water and lemon juice to taste, adding an extra 5 ml honey for every additional 75 ml water if you want to increase quantities.

Artificial sweeteners in powder form and diabetic sugars can be used to make syrup but follow the manufacturer's instructions very carefully because the sweetness in these products is highly concentrated.

After the sugar syrup has been boiled you can add extra flavourings. Try the following delicious ideas, but remember to remove spices just before the salad is served.

• For orange or melon salad, add a small piece of cinnamon stick.

• To give fruit salads a 'kick', add 15 ml of cooking kirsch, brandy, sherry, Drambuie, Grand Marnier or Cointreau to every 250 ml of syrup.

• Add a few pieces of stem ginger. For vanilla syrup, add a few drops of vanilla essence or a vanilla pod.

• For spicy syrup, use 3 cloves, a piece of cinnamon stick and a small piece of fresh ginger tied together in a muslin bag.

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