Friday, March 23, 2012

Building the Best Fruit Salad

Yesterday was Julian's 7th birthday, which meant it was time to bring in a treat to share with his class.  When Sebastian was in first and second grade any treats had to be gluten free and vegan with no nuts and no citrus.  I never baked a treat for his birthday during those 2 years that could be enjoyed by all his classmates.  When he was in first grade I tried to make gluten free vegan brownies but the results were terrible so I made regular brownies and 2 children had candy.  The following year I made Gluten Free Oatmeal Lace Cookies, which meant only his vegan classmate had candy.  I thought that was the hardest it would ever get, until this year when I was getting ready for Julian's birthday.  This year Julian has a classmate who cannot have fat.  Fat free brownies anyone?  No, how about fat free cupcakes?  Having watched this child have to eat cereal when everyone else was happily eating a muffin for breakfast I was not going to exclude him from my planning.

However Julian threw a wrench in any easy treats when he calmly informed me he did not want his treat to be candy.  So what would Julian love that all of his classmates could share?  Well, I could bake an angel food cake, but honestly the idea had no appeal to me and I was having trouble imagining Julian agreeing.  As soon as I suggested fruit salad Julian was excited and happy.  My children know when I make a fruit salad it will be something to celebrate, not a bowl of hard fruit that you eat slowly in order from most to least boring.  When we brought out the bowl Julian's classmates looked at the contents and were just as excited and happy as he was.  They were just as excited as they would have been for cupcakes.  The child who can't have fat, he was absent.

I could share the exact recipe for fruit salad I mede yesterday, but that would only help you if you found exactly the same fruits I did.  So instead I am going to share my rules for making a fruit salad.  If you follow these rules you can always have a fruit salad worth celebrating.  One that gets you invited to potlucks on the condition you bring a large bowl.

Fruit Salad Rules:

Do not add any fruit that is not ripe and flavorful.  I know for many of you this one is obvious, but I have been served many fruit salads with unripe melon, mango, etc in giant oversized chunks.  It is better to serve less fruit salad instead of bulking it up with pieces of fruit that really should be fed to the compost.

Large fruits should all be cut into bite sized pieces

Do not use frozen fruit

A really good fruit salad will be beautiful and the colors will be well balanced.  Honestly, if you look at a bowl of fruit salad and you notice that it has predominately one color family that is a sign it will not be as tasty.

Fruits to include:
Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc), peaches, nectarines, cherries (pitted), mango, melon (watermelon, pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, gaia, crenshaw, etc), kiwi

No: Apples, pears, grapes, bananas (I know some folks who love bananas in their fruit salad, but many folks hate bananas and when added to fruit salad they contaminate everything around them with their flavor), fruit that is not perfectly ripe (I had a friend once serve a bowl of fruit salad, apologizing for the unripe and flavorless honeydew melon.  Ummm, if it isn't good, don't add it)

When a small amount of alcohol is not a problem (note: No, I did not do this for Julian's class!) I add 2 tablespoons of cointreau or other good quality orange flavored fruit liquor to every 10 to 12 or so cups of fruit salad.  This boots the flavor and helps to preserve the fruit.  This trick can improve underripe or flavorless watermelon, although it does not work with other melon.

If you cannot add alcohol use the freshly squeezed juice of orange colored citrus (oranges, clementines, tangerines).  This will also help with underripe or flavorless watermelon, however it will not preserve the fruit at all.

If you have strawberries that are not perfect you can cut them up and sprinkle them lightly with sugar and stir them.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes or more, until the strawberries start to release some juices.  Then you can proceed with adding other fruit.  Unfortunately this only works with strawberries.

Julian enjoying his birthday breakfast of a chocolate croissant at Mirabelles


  1. So glad I found your blog! I'm not good in the kitchen at all and have a son Julian's age who is gluten and dairy free, though he does eat meat. I spend all of my time trying to figure out what to make for him and have really lapsed (that's an understatement) when it comes to making good food for myself.

    Love those glasses! What a cute kid!

  2. Happy Birthday, Julian! (I love the glasses too)

    So the other child can't have any fat? My prior boss couldn't have beef or pork fat, including milk fat, and that was hard enough because there was no cheese or butter, etc. She could have vegetable oils, though. No fat would be HARD.

    Hi, Robin!


  3. What a great mom you are Robin. I love this post.