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What is Ambrosia?

Updated on November 27, 2014
Mandarin Oranges are often used in Ambrosia Salad, or other small oranges.
Mandarin Oranges are often used in Ambrosia Salad, or other small oranges. | Source
Whipped Cream
Whipped Cream | Source

Salad or Mythology, perhaps a bit of both?

When I think of ambrosia, I immediately think of that wonderful sweet salad that people would bring to get togethers or potlucks. In modern times, that is what most people will think of if they know what it is at all. Like my husband asked recently, "What is ambrosia?" I couldn't believe that he didn't know! Once I described an example of an ambrosia salad, he then knew what I meant of course. In fairness to him, this dish can be more of a recipe you might see served in the South, and he never grew up or had relatives from the South like I did.

The recipes for ambrosia can vary greatly, once you start to look around. I want to share that there is an older meaning to the word ambrosia as well. Did yo know there is a Greek and Roman Mythological element to ambrosia? I had no idea. It was considered a food of the gods, It was thought to confer immortality even. It was the food, or food and drink of the gods on Mount Olympus. It is interesting to note, that the Latin, from Greek "ambrosia", is ambrotos, which means immortal or immortalizing.

The second idea or meaning for ambrosia is something with an especially delicious fragrance or flavor to it. This definition could count for many ambrosia recipes that I have tasted! In fact, it could be considered extraordinarily fragrant, and is thought to have been conceived of as a purified form (or idealized form) of honey. It also was accompanied by a nectar, or wine of the gods. Anything very appealing to the smell, or to taste.

I have seen a recipe for Ambrosia Sauce, and an ambrosia cocktail. Those might be some interesting things to look into more. for the right occasion.

The last idea is the one I already mentioned, that being a salad or concoction with primarily oranges and coconut included. Or, it can often include bananas also as a main ingredient. Really, one could call it a variation on a traditional fruit salad. Often, it will contain sweetened whipped cream, and small or large cut up marshmallows. People have used yogurt, or sour cream, or just whipped regular cream as well, allowing the other sweeter ingredients to do the remainder of the sweetening.

Some of the prettier ambrosias that I have seen include maraschino cherries or strawberries. I have seen blackberries used as well. So as you can see, you can really create an ambrosia recipe with your favorite fruit and berries. Often, part of what makes it so sweet, besides the oranges and bananas, is drained pineapple chunks.

People like to toss in pecans, on occasion, to lend a nice crunch. After an ambrosia salad is assembled, it is usually necessary to refrigerate for a couple of hours at least. One nice way to top it would be with more fruit that you used, or a sprig of mint and a cherry, for example.

Easy Recipe for Ambrosia

While I love fresh fruit the best, this recipe is great any time of the year as it uses canned fruit.

You will need:

2 cans of Regular Fruit Cocktail

2 cans of Tropical Fruit Cocktail

2 cans of cut up Pineapple

4 cans of mandarin oranges

1 bag of white miniature marshmallows

1 large container of sour cream

1 little jar of marschino cherries (I cut them in half)

1 cup of shredded coconut (sweetened if desired)

Drain the juice from the fruit, while reserving the liquid from whichever fruit you like best. Use some of that juice to think the sour cream some. Also, reserve some of the cherries and coconut to put on top.

Mix all together, adding any other berries you may have on hand, then chill. A fresh peppermint sprig looks nice on top as well.


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    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Steph, so glad to hear that, I am wanting to make it also, and it definitely reminds me of my Grandma and that generation. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. :)

      All4Jesus, I thought that too, about the sour cream or whipped cream, but it's a good variation on the recipe, and the sweetness comes from the other ingredients. I have seen alternate used, like whipped cream, and yogurt. Its all up to the person, and whether or not you want it to be super sweet, or just sweet, etc. The variations out there are amazing, there are so many. So glad you stopped by, voted and commented, thank you!

      Dolores, yes, that would be so fun to do a dinner featuring recipes from certain decades like that! Yes, fruit cocktail can be found in many of the recipes, it all depends on the person and their taste. Its just a fun old sweeter salad to remember. Thanks for your comment. :)

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I haven't had ambrosia in years! We were just talking about the older salads and I mentioned this one, but could not quite remember what all went in it. Canned fruit cocktail was a big item when I was a kid, but I haven't bought it in years. I'd love to do a late 50's or early 60's dinner featuring all those old recipes - wouldn't that be fun?

    • ALL4JESUS profile image

      ALL4JESUS 6 years ago from USA


      This was once a family tradition - I had completely forgotten. Wonderful! For breakfast?! Fascinating! Great hub! Voted up!

      Whipped cream or sour cream?

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Ambrosia means memories of Grandma and Christmas! Such a wonderful hub - loved all the information and recipe. I'm inspired to make it and enjoy once more. Best, Steph

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Bri36, isn't it interesting that we remember the older generations making this? We ought to also, it was just so good! I think that is a sweet memory from your grandmother, what a great breakfast too! You could use all fresh ingredients, also, keeping it rather healthy, with a few changes. Glad you stopped by and commented, thank you! :)

    • profile image

      bri36 6 years ago

      yes I remember my grandmother making this for special breakfest at least once or twice a month back when my sister and I were little. thanks for reminding me that I know to remember how to make this too...

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Deborah, so glad you like the recipe also. I am like you, and am happy when I see people bring it to functions. It makes me wonder why I don't make it more, as usually so many enjoy it. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

      Merry Christmas to you also!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I love this recipe.. I always love it when someone would bring this to functions.. I bookmarked it.. thank you for putting the recipe on the hub.


    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Austinstar, I was thinking just the same thing. Why don't I remember to make this more, when its such a fun and tasty recipe? My grandmother, and great aunts used to make it a lot, and I always loved it! Thanks so much for your comment and visit.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      My mom used to make this. I wonder why I don't remember to make it? It's really tasty.